Water heaters that need replacement include those over 10 years old and those that are leaking or failing to consistently heat water to an acceptable temperature. Small issues, such as a leaking pressure release valve, are repairable, but major water heater damage caused by rust and corrosion cannot be repaired.
Professional plumbers can replace a gas or electric water heater, or the process can be performed by a homeowner using the proper tools as long as the replacement heater is the same type as the original one. The physical act of replacing a water heater typically takes four to six hours, so the task is generally completed within a single day. If the homeowner wants the replacement heater to use a different type of fuel, the process may require extra time and the assistance of a professional to install or remove the gas line.