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Categories: Water Heaters

Life Span of Your Water Heater & How To Make It Last Longer

Tank water heater in a home. The average life span of a tank water heater is eight to 12 years; however, there are many factors that go into the life span of a water heater.

High pressure to the home due to no pressure-reducing valve, or a failing one, reduces the life span of everything that water under high pressure touches, including the water heater.

Another factor is the water quality and the amount of sediment, minerals, or chlorine in the water, which is great for killing bacteria but is also corrosive. The type of anode rod in the water heater and the thickness of the glass lining inside the tank plays a factor in the life span of a water heater as well.

How much hot water is used daily also plays a role because the longer it sits in the tank without moving through, the quicker it can begin to eat through the anode rod and then the glass lining.

Understanding the Different Types of Tank Water Heaters

A traditional tank water heater can be in a closet, utility room, laundry room, attic, or garage. It can be powered by electricity, gas, or propane. It can be a standard vent, direct vent, or power vent. Traditionally with an electric water heater, you’ll notice the water getting cooler over time or fluctuating. You may need your elements, thermostats, or both replaced.

With a gas water heater, you may need a new igniter, thermocouple, or burner assembly, or it may need to be cleaned out from dust and debris – especially if it’s in a garage. A standard vent water heater has a metal vent on top that goes straight up through the ceiling. A direct vent water heater goes up and then turns out the side wall directly to the outdoors.

A tank water heater corrodes from the inside out once the anode rod is depleted. The anode rod is a sacrificial rod that attracts the contaminants in the water and corrodes over time. Once the anode rod is corroded, it begins to corrode the glass lining on the inside of the tank.

Flushing & Cleaning Your Water Heater Tank

Manufacturers recommend flushing and cleaning out your tank water heater annually to remove any dirt, sediment, and mineral buildup in the tank. It will help extend the life span of your tank water heater and keep it running more efficiently since the efficiency drops greatly after the first year.

However, once the heater is five years or older without being flushed and cleaned, Three Way Plumbing doesn’t recommend doing it from that point on. This is because there may have been pinholes being formed in the tank of the water heater that are actually being sealed by the minerals and buildup in the tank; once you disturb that and remove it, the pinholes will begin leaking.

Water heaters can be repaired but then you have to weigh the cost versus the age of the water heater. There’s no way to tell exactly how much longer a water heater will last.

We’ve had homeowners worried their water heater was rusting and needed to be replaced as early as two years old. This was because a home inspector or another service company pointed out the rust on their water heater. Water heaters that are outside in a utility closet, which isn’t a conditioned space, will have a lot of condensation. That humidity and sitting water will cause the outside to rust.

What you see on the outside is only a jacket for the water heater, and there’s insulation between that jacket and the actual tank. Tanks corrode from the inside out, so rust on the outside isn’t a cause for concern.

Choosing the Location of Your Water Heater

Consider location when replacing your water heater. If it’s in the eaves of a bonus room or an attic, and the water pan isn’t checked regularly for standing water, you may want to consider having it replaced within the average life span period.

We had a homeowner call in a panic early one morning because, while sleeping, she was awakened to hot water coming through her ceiling into her bed. This was the second time this had happened. Her water heater was in the attic.

Another homeowner had it above her garage on the corner closest to the door to enter the home. Thinking it was above the garage, they weren’t worried about it leaking if it ever did. They put the house on the market and moved out. There were three days between realtors showing the house, during which, the water heater kept filling up and leaking over and over.

Water doesn’t go straight down, but instead travels the path of least resistance, and by the time someone had walked into that house again, all the ceilings had fallen down and the house was flooded and needed to be completely gutted.

Water Heater Shut-Off Reminders

If you’re in the Charlotte area or the surrounding areas and want a sticker to put on your water heater with a diagram and description to get your water heater shut down quickly and safely if it starts leaking, email se*****@3w**********.com with “water heater sticker” in the subject line and detail below your name and mailing address. We’ll send that to you to place on your water heater.

When replacing your water heater, you have the option of going back with the same one you have in the same location or relocating the tank water heater somewhere else, or installing a tankless water heater if you have gas or propane to the home.

If you want to discuss your options with our experts, call (704)-795-9349.

We’ll be happy to schedule a service so a technician can evaluate your circumstances and needs and discuss your options with you.

*If emergency, please call
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