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How Long Does a Hot Water Heater Last?

Has it been a long time since you last replaced your water heater? Like every appliance or system in your home, the older your water heater unit gets, the more problems it can encounter. In most cases, you’ll want to upgrade the unit before it completely breaks down, and you’re left scrambling for a quick replacement.

To avoid taking a shower in freezing-cold water, it’s important to know the average life expectancy of hot water heaters. So, how long does a hot water heater last? How do you know it’s time to replace your unit? Let’s answer these questions and more below.

The Average Lifespan of a Water Heater

“How long does a hot water heater last?” When you ask various technicians this question, there’s a good chance that you’ll receive an assortment of answers. Why so many varying opinions? Well, many factors can affect the average lifespan of a water heater, including the specific type.

For instance, traditional tank water heaters typically last anywhere from 8 to 12 years. However, these units can sometimes reach 15 years of age with proper maintenance and care. This answer is the same for both electric and gas water heaters; the fuel type hasn’t really been shown to affect longevity one way or the other.

On the other hand, tankless water heaters have an average lifespan of approximately 15 to 20 years. With routine maintenance, they can even last as long as 25 years!

How to Determine Your Water Heater’s Age

There are two ways you can determine the age of your unit. For starters, you’ll want to see if there’s a manufacturer’s label on the side of the unit. This label should tell you the date when the water heater was manufactured.

Are you struggling to find the manufacturer’s label? No worries. Next, you can try locating the serial number. This number is typically located on the top half of the tank. Serial numbers can be difficult to decipher on your own, so you’ll likely need to visit the manufacturer’s website for further information or an age calculator.

Factors That Can Affect Water Heater Life Expectancy

Now, you may be wondering: What would cause my water heater to break down sooner than my neighbor’s? When it comes down to it, various factors can affect the average lifespan of water heaters. Let’s go over some circumstances that could shorten your unit’s service life.

Rate of Use

It makes sense that the more you use an appliance or system inside your home, the more wear and tear it can experience. Take your heating system, for example. If you live in an area that’s prone to frigid temperatures, there’s a good chance that you’re constantly blasting the heat. When your heater is constantly running, you’ll likely need to replace the HVAC system much sooner than someone who lives down south.

If your family is constantly using hot water in your house — whether washing the dishes or showering — the water heater can experience wear and tear at a considerably quicker rate.

Lack of Maintenance

Routine maintenance is crucial to the functionality of your water heater. During one of these services, a maintenance expert will perform a comprehensive series of tests and inspections.

For example, they may check the anode rod, inspect the heating element, and flush the tank. Having your hot water heater’s tank flushed once a year can help prevent sediment buildup from collecting at the bottom of the tank.

How long does a hot water heater last with maintenance? Although there isn’t one definitive answer to this question, you can most likely expect the unit to have a longer lifespan. Maintenance can certainly help your water heater run more efficiently, which can potentially help you avoid a premature replacement and lower your utility bills.

Signs Your Water Heater Needs Replacing

Now that you know the average lifespan of a water heater, you might be wondering if it’s time to replace your unit. Lucky for you, there are warning signs you can look out for.

Poor Performance

Is your water heater having a difficult time heating water when you need it? Your unit should be able to provide hot water fairly quickly, and the temperature should be to your liking. If your water heater is getting old and fails to meet your needs, it’s likely time to schedule a replacement. Discolored or rusty water is also a cause for concern.

Strange Sounds

Banging, hissing, or popping sounds often suggest that there is sediment buildup at the bottom of your water heater tank. As mentioned above, this sediment can have a negative effect on the longevity of a water heater.

If there is an outrageous amount of sediment in the tank and your unit has nearly surpassed the average lifespan of a water heater, you might want to consider a replacement.

Visible Leaks

If water appears to be leaking out of your water heater tank, the first step you should take is to check the pressure relief valve. This valve is responsible for lowering the pressure inside the tank in the event that it reaches a dangerous amount. In order to lower the pressure, the valve must release a small amount of water.

If you’ve checked the pressure relief valve and the leak continues, it’s most likely time to replace the unit. Water heater leaks are typically caused by corrosion inside the tank; in most cases, this problem cannot be fixed with a repair.

How long does a hot water heater last when it has a leak? Although some water heaters might be able to operate with a leak for a period of time, it’s likely that you’ll need to schedule a replacement fairly quickly down the line.

Upgrade Your Water Heater With Arlinghaus

The average lifespan of a water heater may fluctuate depending on the specific type of unit, the amount of use it receives, and the inclusion of regular maintenance. If you need help replacing a water heater, turn to Arlinghaus Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning.

Our professional team in Erlanger, KY, offers everything from emergency drain and plumbing services to water heater installations. We’re proud to be a reliable and local source for many homeowners in the area, and if it’s finally time to replace your water heater, we’ll happily help you find a dependable replacement.
Contact us today for more information about our plumbing services in Hamilton County and the surrounding areas!

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