Your home is full of appliances that aren’t designed to last a lifetime. In most cases, you can either plan to replace them on your own schedule, or you can wait until they’re beyond repair. But when it comes to the plumbing in your house, the price of procrastination can be steep. We want to help devise a strategy to replace your aging plumbing products so your budget isn’t hurt by the sudden expense – and so your lifestyle isn’t inconvenienced.
Never Take a Cold Shower
Your water heater is a workhorse, and when properly installed and maintained, it should offer eight to 12 years of service. The more expensive tankless versions can last up to 20 years.
Light maintenance is necessary to help your water heater achieve its full lifespan. Tank water heaters should be drained and flushed annually, and the anode rod should be replaced as needed to safeguard against rust.
Tankless models should periodically be descaled with white vinegar. If you live in an area with hard water and aren’t countering it with a water softening system, diligent maintenance is essential to avoid a shortened lifespan.
It’s a good idea to start planning for water heater replacement around the 10-year mark. If your water takes longer than usual to heat up, that could be an early warning sign of a diminishing lifespan. But it may also be a fizzling heating element — a relatively cheap fix — so consult an experienced plumber. Leaks and corrosion are other signs that a replacement will be necessary soon.
If replacement is warranted, make a timely plan that makes sense for your home. At best, you’ll have to endure unexpectedly cold showers, but pushing a failing water heater too far can cause leaks to become floods and faulty heating elements into fire hazards.
Disposing of a Disposal
The garbage disposal in your kitchen is another appliance that should give you about eight to 12 years of solid performance if you treat it well. Getting full life out of a disposal is mostly a matter of not disposing of things that could damage the unit: like grease, starches, fibrous vegetables, large bones, plastic, and more.
If your disposal is in the replacement age range and is frequently jamming, shutting off abruptly, or taking abnormally long to grind food, it’s time to consider a new one. Poor performance can contribute to clogged pipes and leaks. Specifically, replace a disposal immediately if you notice water dripping from the bottom of the unit — water damage can lead to even bigger problems.
Stay High and Dry
Unlike your water heater and garbage disposal, your basement sump pump isn’t a convenience — it’s there to prevent disaster. If your sump pump fails, the price may be a flooded basement and thousands of dollars in damage.
Sump pump lifespan varies by the dampness of the sump pit, but most last about 10 years. A pump’s backup battery may have a shorter replacement interval.
You can easily test your sump pump by pouring a bucket of water into the sump pit. If the pump starts and the water pumps out quickly, you’re in good shape. If not, it’s time for maintenance, repair, or replacement. If you count on your sump pump to keep your basement dry, it’s worth taking the time to test regularly and upgrade proactively.
Replacement isn’t always predictable, but nothing lasts forever. If your aging plumbing appliances have lived full lives, ask your local plumbers to replace them before they cause bigger – and more expensive – problems.