Just last week I was in Crystal Lake doing a home inspection for a newly married couple that were watching every penny.  They were extremely excited about the fact that they soon would be homeowners but were concerned with repair or replacement costs that may come up on their home inspection in Crystal Lake, Illinois.  They new that the roof was newer, the heating and air conditioner was just put in and the electric was already updated recently.  The question they had for me was the age of the Rheem water heater, how many years did it have left and how much would it cost to replace.

I’ll show you what to look for on a water heater to tell how many years you may have.  These tests are the tests I showed my clients from the Crystal Lake home inspection on their Rheem water heater.  You should know that water heaters have a lifespan of 10-12 years in the best conditions.  It seems that water heaters built 20 years ago were built to last longer.  Just an observation.

  • Listen to your water heater and if you hear popping then their is a good chance that your dip tube is cracked and you have turbulence inside the heater.  Traditionally the hot water is sitting in the top of the tank and the cold is shuttled to the bottom of the storage tank where the burner is located to heat it and send it to the fixture in need.  If there is a popping noise then the dip tube has deteriorated and you can either have the dip tube replaced or replace the whole water heater.  The next test tells if the dip tube has deteriorated.
  • Removal of the aeratorat the kitchen sink or the bathroom sink will determine if there is a deteriorated dip tube in your water heater.  When you take of the aerator you will see white particles in the screen of the aerator.  If there are alot of particles then you may have to replace your water heater.  The water heater from the Crystal Lake home inspection had a deteriorated dip tube that was seemed to be completely gone.
  • Inspection of the bottom of the water heater is where you may see rust on the storage tank.  Water staining can be seen in this area also and will determine the length of life of the water heater.  If you see a rusting storage tank or water staining then you may want to prepare for replacing your water heater.

So my clients from the Crystal Lake home inspection had a Rheem water heater that was on its last leg.  The Rheem water heater last 13 years which was better than the average.  My clients where concerned with pricing for a replacement water heater.  Water heaters can vary in pricing depending on size and what type of fuel they function on.  I believe natural gas water heaters are better because the cost of natural gas is so much cheaper than electric.  Some areas in the United States don’t have access to natural gas so electric is your only choice.  The Crystal Lake Home inspection had a 50 gallon natural gas Rheem water heater that I estimate can be replaced by a licensed plumbing contractor for $850.00.

Hopefully you learned what to look for while searching for your new home.  If you have further questions on what to look for on your water heater then contact me at The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thank for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke