Serving Charlotte, Huntersville, Concord and Surrounding Areas

31 August 2015

How long does a water heater last?

How long does a water heater last?

How long does a Water Heater last?

While statistics show the average lifespan of a water heater is 8-12 years for a traditional tank water heater, there are many factors involved in the actual lifespan and what you are considering the term lifespan to mean.  Some people consider the lifespan of a water heater to be when the costs of repairs are not justified when compared to the investment of a replacement; while others consider the lifespan to mean the water heater cannot be repaired and must be replaced.  

How does a Tank Water Heater work?

Tank water heaters are heated by natural gas, propane gas, or electricity.  There is no difference in the lifespan whether it is natural gas, propane or an electric water heater.  Tankless water heaters have a longer lifespan of 20+ years.

Water heater tanks are made out of a metal that has a sprayed-on glass lining.  Inside the tank there is an anode rod, which is called the sacrificial rod in many instances.  The purpose of the anode rod is to draw the impurities and sediment found in the water to it where it begins to slowly erode away at it.  It prevents the impurities and sediment from settling on the bottom and walls of the tank which begins to erode away at the tank.  Once the anode rod is completely eroded away, then the lining of the tank and the tank itself begins to erode away causing it to leak beyond repair.  So, you see, that is why the energy source used to heat the water really doesn’t make a difference in the lifespan of the water heater.  

Some of the contributing factors involved in the lifespan of your Water Heater are:

  • Water Quality—any standing water in a holding tank causes corrosion over time, but pH levels, chlorine content, sediment, minerals and impurities are increased corrosiveness factors.  
  • Location – is it located inside the home where temperatures do not fluctuate drastically or in a garage or a crawl space or an attic or an outside utility room.
  • Maintenance – do you do maintenance on your water heater like you would your HVAC system or your car? 
  • Water Pressure – high water pressure to your home is no different than high blood pressure in your body.  Safety Code says 80 psi is the maximum allowed before a PRV-pressure reducing valve- should be installed.  You may have high water pressure and not even be aware of it, or you may have a PRV that has stopped working.
  • Quality - Just like with everything you can purchase, there are different qualities and prices of water heaters.  Some have thicker linings and larger anode rods which last longer.

How to extend the lifespan of your Water Heater:

  • An annual flushing of the water heater is recommended by all of the manufacturers.  Although if it hasn’t been flushed in 5 years, we do not recommend starting now.  This is because we have found that it was the sediment in the tank that was actually sealing holes where the tank began to corrode, and flushing it now may cause leaking.
  • Do an annual inspection of the water heater itself by looking for rust stains on the outside or water in the pan underneath or just around the base.  Even though they corrode from the inside; if there are signs of corrosion on the outside, that's a good indicator it is corroding on the inside as well. 

What are signs of Water Heater problems?

  • Moisture accumulation at the top or bottom or even a puddle under or around the base of the water heater
  • Discolored hot water from any faucet in the home
  • A rotten-egg type odor from the hot water at any tap in your home or your laundry
  • Your shower doesn’t feel as hot as it used to or you have to turn your faucet more to the hotter temperature than prior
  • You are running out of hot water faster than you used to

How Three Way Plumbing approaches Water Heaters different than most companies:

  • When we do an annual maintenance flushing of your water heater, we use a small scope on a camera to look inside your tank and see the condition of the inside of the tank before filling it back up and cycling it through.
  • We install water heaters to the most current safety codes, obtain all required permits and have inspections performed. 
  • We carry only Bradford White tank heaters on all of our trucks.  They are made right here in the USA in Michigan, and it is an employee-owned company so everyone there has a vested interest in quality control of the product they send out.  
  • Bradford White standard tanks have the equivalent of a commercial-grade lining as well as the largest anode rod so there is no need to do upgrades to the anode rod just for a longer manufacturer guarantee on the water heater.  Under magnification, Bradford White has been shown to have the least number of pinholes in the glass lining of the tank extending the lifespan of your water heater.
  • Three Way Plumbing provides a full 6-year unconditional guarantee – parts, labor and replacement on all water heaters we install.  We know we can stand behind the products we choose to offer our very important clients because we install for you the same exact products we install in our own homes.  

Want to learn more about traditional tank water heaters or tankless water heaters just click here. 

Educating our clients to make the right decisions for their homes and families is why at Three Way Plumbing we are known as The Good Guys around the Charlotte, NC Metro Area.



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