How Long Do Water Heaters Last | Factors, Maintenance Tips, and More


How Long Do Water Heaters Last

Water heaters are used all over the world. But, if you live in the North American region of the earth, a water heater is an indispensable part of your home. A water heater is a device used to heat water with the help of electricity and is widely used all over the world for various household uses. The most common uses of a water heater are for cooking, bathing, gardening, etc. 

Now, if you have a water heater at your home, it is completely normal to face issues with it. But if you keep a timely check on its maintenance, the issues with these devices can be reduced. If we talk about the fact that how long do water heaters last, a water heater can last up to 15 years. Although, this number depends on various factors that need proper attention. Here, in this article, we will discuss every important aspect to help you get the best from your water heater.

5 Factors That Affect How Long Water Heaters Last

As the market of water heaters is rising at a rapid rate, it is essential for you to learn about its maintenance for the coming future. Maybe it can turn out to be a business opportunity for you. According to the Global Market Insights report, the commercial water heater market size valued at over $4.5 billion in 2017 and the annual installation is predicted to exceed 6 million units by 2024.

Keeping all these statistics in mind, it is pretty obvious that there will be more business for water heaters in the future. This will also increase prices, so to save yourself from the sky-high rates of the water heaters, you need to take care of your water heaters.

If you want to make the best use of your water heater for a long time, you need to consider various factors that will help you with it. 

1. Type of Water Heater

The life of the water heater is highly dependent on the type of water heater you are using in your house. Water heaters around the world run on either electricity or gas. In the USA, the number of people using gas-powered water heaters (60%) is more than those using electric heaters (40%). And both of these fuels have their own pros and cons. If we contrast both the power source of water heaters, the gas-powered heater wins over the electric heater.

The electric water heater is more economical than the electric version. Also, the life expectancy of the gas-powered water heater is greater than that of the electric water heater. In the end, the initial cost of the electric heater is more than that of the gas-powered one. In short, if you buy a gas-powered water heater for your home, you will end up making the best choice. Also, it will work in case there is a power outage.

2. Tankless or Tank Heater

Choosing between a tankless and tank water heater can be a tough choice, but after reading this, it will be a cakewalk for you. If we speak in terms of the age of the water heater, a tankless water heater can last longer than a water heater with a tank. 

A tankless water heater has more efficiency as it does not have to hold water, which makes it fit for use for up to 20 years. On the other hand, though their initial buying cost is low, the water heater with a tank starts having issues after 10 years. This means that the life of a water heater with a tank is almost twice that of the tankless water heater.

Apart from a long time period, the tankless water heater is also cost effective. Numerically, the tankless water heater can help you save 30 to 70% power cost.

3. Maintenancer

One of the prime factors that is important to consider is the maintenance of the water heater. It is an obvious thing that if you do not maintain something, it will lose its value with time. That’s why it is essential to keep your water heater properly maintained to use it for a long time.

The maintenance tips for water heaters vary based on them being tankless or with a tank. We will take a brief look at the various maintenance tips for water heaters.

4. Place of Installation

This may not seem like a big deal to you, but it is. Any place where the temperature is not controlled is not the ideal place for your water heater. A water heater that is installed in a garage or any other unfinished place of the house may not last long for you. This will not only reduce the longevity of the water heater, but it will also lead to improper functioning.

Either type of water heater will not be able to maintain the temperature of the water if it is a cold environment. You need to consider the temperature of the surroundings before installing the water heater at a certain spot in your home.

5. Water

Among all the key factors, water used in the water heater is also a factor that can affect the lifespan of the heater. 

How? Let us see.

The use of hard water inside the water heater can lead to various issues when compared to the use of soft water. Hard water has a lot of minerals in it – and after heating hard water inside the water heater, mineral deposits separate and settle on the surface of the heater. This results in the building up of sediments, which reduces the efficiency of the water heater. Eventually, it will be damaged.

To counteract this situation, use a water softener in the water heater. This method generally doubles the life of a water heater. On the other hand, you also need to flush the water heater once a year for proper functioning.

All these factors, if well-monitored, can boost the lifespan of the water heater. Apart from these, there are certain maintenance tips that one needs to keep in mind for the extended life of a water heater.

Maintenance Tips to Extend the Life Of Water Heaters

As referred to above, the maintenance of the water heater at your home is highly essential, as your water heater might get damaged early otherwise. Now, to maintain your water heater at your home, you need to check if the water heater has a tank or not. The steps for maintaining the water heater at your home depend highly on whether the heater is tankless or has a tank. Let us take a look at some of them.

If we talk about the water heater with a tank, it stores water for usage after heating. If not cleaned properly, the water heater may get damaged. To keep in from damaging and for the longevity, undertake the following tips:

Pressure Valve Test

The pressure valve of the water heater is a safety element that opens automatically if the pressure inside the water heater gets really high. This valve is fitted on the side of the water heater, along with a discharge pipe connected to it.

When the pressure inside the water heater increases, the valve opens and water flows from this pipe to the floor, thus preventing the water heater from exploding. To avoid such a thing, make sure you test the pressure valve every time you undertake the maintenance process.

To do that, place a bucket under the discharge pipe and lift the lever. If water flows into the bucket, the valve is functioning. If not, you have to get the valve mechanism replaced.

Anode Rod Test

This is another significant thing to test while doing maintenance checks. Now, what an anode rod does is prevent the water heater from getting corroded with time. The rod attracts the corrosive minerals towards it and gets itself corroded to save the water heater.

An anode rod should be changed every five years so that the lifespan of the water heater can be increased. Now, to get to the anode rod inside the water heater, drain some water from the water heater so that you have a visual on the rod. If you don’t know what the rod looks like, refer to the manual of the water heater.

Check if the rod looks corroded. If it does, you need to replace it. Use a flexible rod with some pipe thread sealant to fix the rod. Before turning on the power and water to the water heater, make sure you drain some water from the water heater.

Note: If you find rust flakes in the water of the heater, change the entire water heater.

Flushing the Tank

Flushing is the thing that you need to do more frequently as compared to the other processes. The anode rod is changed every five years, but you need to flush the tank every year. This is necessary to remove the deposited sediments inside the water heater tank.

Now, to flush the tank, stop the cold water supply and power. Now, open the hot water tap and drain all the water from the tank. If there is more than required sediment deposit, fill it with some cold water and drain it again. Do this until no sediment is coming out of the hot water tap.If we take a look at the maintenance of the tankless water heater, it takes a bit less time as compared to the tank version.

Flushing the Water Heater

Just like the tank water heater, it is necessary to flush down the tankless water heater. To do this, close the hot water valve first. After this, use the combination of hot water, cold water, and food-grade vinegar to clean the sediment deposit inside the water heater with the help of a sump pump. 

Let the process run for around 45 minutes. Then, make sure you flush the water heater again with plain water for five minutes.

Air Intake Filter

When you are flushing the water heater with vinegar, you can also check the air intake filter of the heater also. This is important because if the filter is not clean, the air that flows into the filters will not get burnt properly (in the case of a gas water filter). This will, in turn, reduce the efficiency of the water heater.

To clean the air filter, remove the faceplate of the water heater. If you cannot find the filter inside the water heater, refer to the product manual to know where it is. Once you have removed the filter from the unit, wash it thoroughly to remove any kind of debris from it. Then, the filter needs to be completely dry before reinstalling. Make sure you dry it with a paper towel. 

After this, attach the filter to the unit along with all the screws. Open the hot and cold water taps along with gas supply to the filter. Check if the heater works.

This is the process of maintaining your water filter at your home without any external help. But it is recommended that you call a professional for the first time to help with maintenance. After that, you can try and do it by yourself. 

The overall process of water heater maintenance may not be an exciting job to do, but it saves you a lot of money. Plus, with maintenance at regular intervals, this also plays a role in how long do water heaters last. To make the water heater last for a longer time, you need to keep their maintenance consistent.

Signs That Your Water Heater Is About To Fail

Now, your water heater is a device that will not be able to survive for more than a required period of time – that is pretty obvious. At some point, it will become essential for you to change the water heater, but you will not wait for any mishap to take place, right? 

That’s why it’s important to keep a check on signs that a water heater gives you to prevent problems. Let’s take a look at some of the telltale signs that will reveal the bad state of the water heater beforehand.

Water Is Rusty

The best way to find out if the water heater needs replacement is by checking the water that is coming out from the hot water tap of the heater. If the color of the water is brown or red, it may be possible that the water heater has corroded from the inside. 

It could also be due to the piping, but if you have galvanized piping, you need to check it by draining water repeatedly 2 to 3 times. If, by the third time, the water appears to be red or brown, the piping of the water heater is fine – and it’ll be clear that you need to change the water heater.

Noise from the Water Heater

In most devices, if you are getting a noise, you need to get it checked for issues. In the case of water heaters, when the deposited sediments in the water heater are heated repeatedly, they become solid masses and start banging against the metal walls of the water heater. This often produces rumbling and banging sounds and it means that your heater is in its last stages.

Apart from this, you can also observe that the filter will be less efficient than before. Moreover, the heater will also wear and tear more while banging of solids inside of it. Soon, it may crack or small holes will appear in the water heater.

Leaky Water Heater

This is the main sign that informs you about the health of a water heater. Over time, due to overheating of the water filter, it corrodes from the inside. Due to this, when the water heats, the metallic structure of the water heater expands, and on cooling, it regains its original state.

This process repeated a number of times produces cracks in the body of the water heater, spilling water on the surface of the floor. In addition to this, you need to check the water coming from the pipe connections to the water heater. It may be possible that your water heater is fine, but the connections are bad.

Age of the Water Heater

The age of the water heater is also an indispensable factor in deciding whether you need a new water heater. Well, if you want to know the age of your water heater, you can always check the serial number of the product. The serial number contains information about the month and year of the manufacturing of the product.

Mostly, water heaters last for 10 to 12 years, but if taken care of properly, they can last for 20 years. Regardless, it’s important to check the water heater regularly to avoid damage and increase longevity.

Less Hot Water

We’ve talked about heating over time causes sediment deposition in the water heater. This in turn reduces the efficiency of the water heater, leading to the water heater heating up less hot water.

If you come across any of these signs, call a water heater professional and get it checked. Then, you’ll know whether to get it repaired or replaced.

How Much Does It Cost to Install a Water Heater?

In the last section, we have covered various factors that can help you know beforehand whether your water heater needs replacement or not. Now, if you are planning on getting a new water heater, you need to be prepared for making the best investment for the next 10 to 15 years. 

The first thing you need to decide is which water heater you want to install: a gas powered water heater or an electric water heater? In one of the sections above, we have contrasted both of these types. And as we discussed, gas water heaters are generally better compared to the electric version.

If we talk about the pricing of the water heaters, the gas powered water heater has an upper hand in the case of pricing also. A gas water heater would cost you around $250 to $1500 along with gasoline. On the other hand, the initial installation cost of an electric water heater is $300 to $2880 plus wiring.

The overall cost (lifetime of the heater) of the gas water heater is also relatively less as compared to the electric heater. In short, the gas water heater has the upper hand.

Final Thoughts

If you are planning to buy a new water heater or have one and plan on swapping it, this post hopefully gave you enough information to point you in the right direction. You should have an idea about the factors that affect the age of the water heater, and know how to maintain the water heater at your home. 

I hope this article serves you well as you decide what to do for your water heater needs.

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