Water heaters are so crucial to a comfortable home: showers, baths, dishes, laundry.  So if you need a water heater replacement or repair, you don’t want to wait and think about all your options. But knowing what is the best option is as crucial for a water heater as it is for anything, and since replacing a water heater isn’t cheap, you want to make sure you get one that will last so you don’t have to do it again in two years.

So how do you know whether you need water heater replacement or repair?  Two or three key questions can help you determine which path is your best fit.

First, how old is your water heater?  A tankless water heater should last around 20 years, more with a good product and care.  A gas water heater should last at least 10 years.  So if your unit is older than its typical lifespan, plan to replace it.

Look at how often you are having to repair it.  If you have had to repair your water heater several times in the past couple of years, you may want to replace it even if it isn’t at the end of its lifespan.  Every once in a while, you get a dud. An appliance that breaks down far more frequently than it should.  If it is outside of its warranty, sometimes you just throw up your hands and replace it.  If you have used the same company for all the repairs, sit down with them and discuss the best option.

Finally, do the cost-benefit analysis.  If the repairs cost more than 50% of the cost of a new appliance, just replace it.  As expensive as that seems, a repair that is that costly is a harbinger of worse to come, in most cases.