You are here:

Plumbing in the Home/electric hot water heater, repair or replace?


I have a Richmond, 30-gallon electric hot water heater that was installed 2002. It is starting to limit the amount of hot water, so short showers are ok, but long showers or baths are not possible. I know the warranty is only 6 years, and I am the only person in the household. I have never drained it of sediment. The plumber says there are an upper and lower thermostat(?) or element and one may need replacing. My question is whether I should replace the whole tank, since it is so far past it's warranty. The tank is indoors, in a closet, and makes a scratchy noise once in a while, maybe from the sediment? I don't want to start patching up something or spend so much in service calls that it would be more economical in the long run to replace it. The new 30-gallon Reliance tank cost $280, not including installation and delivery. The plumber service call is $85. Not sure yet what the install cost is until he gives me the free estimate on repair/replace. Please give me your opinion on repair Versus replace. Thanks.

Most 30 gal. Electric heaters have two elements, an upper and a lower. The work basically like heat coils  on a stove but are submersible. The upper heats first then the lower kicks in. The average life span of an element varies due to water quality,  hardness and other factors. Water heaters on average usually last 8 to 12 years but there are exceptions. Based on the age of your tank , I would replace it.  If it costs you $150 to $200 to fix it now,you would be far better of to use that money for a new tank. Here in NY it cost about $500 to $600 to replace a 40 gal electric or gas  heater. Labor and Materials.  You will most likely have to replace it within a year or two anyway so why spend half the amount of a new one to extend the life of your heater for a year or two.

Plumbing in the Home

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Jay Nicholas


Plumbing & Heating (warm air, hot water & steam heat)


40 years in the business, 40 years as a lic. master plumber in NY State. Retired

Graduated Magna cum laude at the School of Hard Knocks

Past/Present Clients
Commercial, residential and light industrial. You name it ...I have probably worked on it

©2017 All rights reserved.