Leak in water heater- worth the fix?
I have a 13-year old 50-gallon water heater which has a very slow leak where the hot and cold water pipes attach to the top of the barrel. The pipes are PVC and appear to be joined to the barrel with threaded copper inserts and a copper nut. The joint is heavily corroded and slowly oozing water mixed with a bit of rusty colored fluid.
Is this a common occurrence with water heaters? Is it a sign of minor issues or should I prepare to replace the unit?
It's not clear whether the leak is in the heater or the joint. If in the joint then replacing the fitting may fix it for far less than the cost of a new unit. It's certainly worth a try.
Some folks will say that 13 years is end of life for a water heater, but ours is 32 years old.
My grandad had a unit that wasn't much older than 15 years. It blew up while he was on vacation. When he got home and opened the door, about six inches of standing water made its way out. Don't mess around, replace it. Water heaters require regular maintenance and I'm assuming that the guy who has a 32 year old one has been following the manual to the "T". If not, then he is just lucky. Replace your water heater.
Kind of sounds like the leaks are in the fittings/joints, not actually where the nipple on the tank goes into the tank. Fix the fittings first, I'd say. Take a closer look, clean up the area and see if you can determine where the leak originates.
I'd bet Mr. 32 yr water heater didn't do much to his over the years. You could have a good 4-5++ yrs left on yours. If you don't have to, it ain't worth the expense ... unless you have other issues/concerns.