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How Long Do Water Heaters Last?June 16th, 2023 by
Do you like hot showers and clean clothes? Thank your water heater! It’s one of the most underappreciated, yet essential appliances in your home. Like every appliance, water heaters have a limited lifespan and will eventually need to be replaced. So, how long do water heaters last? On average, a hot water heater will last for about 10 years. However, the exact lifespan can vary based on a number of factors. These include the quality of the unit, the water quality in the area, and how frequently you maintain it. Here is everything you need to know about how long your water heater will last. Plus, we share tips for extending the life expectancy of your hot water tank.
How Long Does a Hot Water Heater Last?
Water heaters typically last for between 8 and 12 years. However, tankless water heaters can last up to 20 years. The actual lifespan is affected by various factors, like material quality, your local water quality, and maintenance. Some water tanks may last longer or shorter than the average lifespan, depending on these and other factors.
Lifespan for Tank-Style Water Heaters
A traditional tank-type water heater is designed to last an average of 8 to 12 years. Electric water heaters generally have a shorter lifespan, but are more energy efficient and have lower operating costs. Although less energy efficient, gas water heaters typically last longer. You can expect an electric tank to last between 8 and 10 years, while a gas tank can last 12 or more.
Inside the tank, an anode rod works to protect the interior lining by attracting corrosive particles through a process called electrolysis. This rod will eventually corrode and can no longer do its job, allowing those particles to settle at the bottom of the tank and potentially destroy the lining. Once the inside of the tank starts corroding, you will need to replace it.
It is important for homeowners to keep their hot water tank in good condition in order to maximize its lifespan. Regular maintenance, such as flushing out sediment build-up, checking for leaks or other signs of damage, and replacing the anode rod every few years can help extend its life significantly.
Lifespan for Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters, also known as “on-demand” appliances, don’t need to work constantly to supply hot water and therefore have a longer lifespan than tank-style models. Eventually, without anode rods, these may rust and require replacement. On average, tankless systems can last up to 20 years.
What Factors Determine How Long a Water Heater Will Last?
While it should last at least 8 to 10 years, several actors can affect the overall lifespan of a water heater:
- Quality of the unit: Units made with higher-quality materials and better build quality tend to last longer than those made with lower-quality materials.
- Water quality: Hard water, which is water that has a high mineral content, can shorten its lifespan. The minerals in hard water can build up inside the tank and decrease its efficiency.
- Maintenance: Proper maintenance is important for extending the lifespan of your unit. This includes regularly flushing the tank to remove sediment and inspecting the anode rod to ensure that it is in good condition.
- Usage: The frequency and intensity of use can also affect the lifespan. Water heaters that are used frequently or are required to produce a large amount of hot water may wear out more quickly than those that are used less frequently.
- Climate: The climate in your area can also have an effect on its lifespan. Units in areas with very cold winters may have a shorter lifespan due to the strain of heating cold water.
How Do You Tell the Age of a Water Heater?
Not sure how old your water heater is? There is actually a simple way to tell the age even if you don’t have original documentation. Most manufacturers include the month and year it was made into the serial number.
They typically use one letter for the month and then two numbers for the year is the most common format. For example, if the serial number includes C13, you know that it was made in March 2013. F14 means June 2014 and J15 means October 2015.
This code is usually at the beginning of the serial number, but it can appear at the end too. However, some companies might use a slightly different method. Check their website for details about their numbering method.
5 Tips for Extending the Lifespan of Your Water Heater
The best way to extend the life of a water heater is by using the right settings and performing regular maintenance. Here are some tips to keep your water tank working long:
1. Flush the Tank Regularly
You should flush your water heater at least once a year to remove any sediment buildup. Over time, sediment will decrease the efficiency of the unit and shorten its lifespan. If you have hard water or live in an area with high levels of sediment in the water, you may need to flush it more frequently. You can also consult your owner’s manual or a professional plumber to determine how often you need to flush it.
2. Inspect the Anode Rod
The anode rod is designed to corrode over time in order to protect the tank, so you should check it every 2 to 3 years. If it is severely corroded, it may need to be replaced in order to extend the lifespan of the water heater. As long as it is in good condition, you can replace it. You can also consult your owner’s manual or a professional plumber for guidance on the appropriate frequency for inspecting the anode rod.
3. Insulate the Tank
Insulating your water heater tank can help to maintain the temperature of the water inside, which can reduce the strain on the unit and help it last longer. If it’s cold around the tank, it will run more often to keep the water warm. By insulating the tank, you can help to maintain the temperature of the water, which can reduce the frequency and intensity of heating cycles and help the unit last longer. This is especially important if you live in a cold-weather climate.
4. Set the Temperature Correctly
The temperature setting on your water heater can also cause the unit to work harder and shorten its lifespan. Setting the temperature at 120 degrees Fahrenheit strikes a good balance between comfort and efficiency. Setting it too high will cause the heating element to cycle more often, As a result, it will wear out much faster. You can also extend the lifespan by turning the temperature down in the summer. Just a few degrees can limit how many times it runs, making it last longer.
5. Use a Water Softener
Another way to make your water heater last longer is by adding a water softener. Hard water, or water with high mineral content, will cause sediment buildup inside the tank. Over time, this build-up will decrease efficiency or even lead to corrosion which can shorten the lifespan of the unit. A water softener helps remove the minerals and limits build-up in the tank. If you have hard water, a water softener can extend the life by nearly double.
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