In the United States, almost every household has a hot water heater.
Many of them are older models, and that can leave you wondering, how long do hot water heaters last? Well, the answer to that depends on several variables.
Hot water heaters are reliable appliances. When you purchase a new one, you won’t have to worry about repairs for years.
You can also do regular maintenance on the hot water heater to extend its life. Even with all the maintenance possible, hot water heaters will eventually decline and need to be replaced.
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How Long Do Hot Water Heaters Last?
In order to answer this question, we must first look at average life expectancy.
Regardless of any other factors, most hot water heaters will last between 10-20 years. This is a wide average, but you can be confident that if your heater is over ten years, you are on borrowed time.
10-Year Life Expectancy
It’s possible that if you purchase a cheap tank water heater, it may last less than ten years. It is also possible that environmental factors, such as flooding, can destroy a new hot water heater. Tank water heaters are very susceptible to this because they are often installed resting on the ground.
When floodwater invades a basement or house, the hot water heater can be damaged. The heating assembly is close to the ground, as it rests under the tank. This means that the flood water can damage the burner and thermal coupler with even a small amount of exposure. It can also lead to corrosion of metal parts.
As corrosion and sediment build-up inside a hot water heater, their life expectancy declines. It is easy to forget that you should check and maintain your hot water heater because most don’t have any problems for years at a time. We tend to forget they are there, providing us with hot water.
20-Year Life Expectancy
If you buy a well-made hot water heater and take care of it, you could expect your hot water heater to last for up to 20 years. Some even last longer, but those are the exception to the rule. Regular maintenance is key to prolonging the life of your hot water heater.
Steps you can take to prolong the life of your hot water heater include testing the valves. If you notice any leaks, you should repair them as soon as you spot them. Prevent water damage to your hot water heater, and the appliance will continue to work well for years.
You should also drain the tank of sediment. One of the leading causes of failure in hot water heaters is sediment moving through the lines.
This can lead to clogs and breaks, as well as damage to pipes and tanks. If this happens, you may find purchasing a new hot water heater is cheaper.
Tank Water Heaters vs Tankless Water Heaters
In general, tankless water heaters, or on-demand water heaters last longer than tank versions. The average life expectancy for a tankless water heater is closer to 15-20 years. This is also because tankless water heaters are often installed new, and therefore aren’t using older parts.
It is also less common for basement flooding to destroy a tankless water heater. In extreme cases, they are affected, but as long as the water doesn’t get too high, you should be fine. A sump pump can help keep the water level lower so that the tankless heater doesn’t take damage.
There is still that 20-year cap on the average life of a hot water heater. No matter how nice and effective a hot water heater is, they are like all appliances and will need replacing.
Warning Signs of Hot Water Heater Failing
There are a lot of signs that your hot water heater is failing. These signs can come at any time, regardless of how long do hot water heaters last. Some are fairly basic signs, like reduced hot water or water not getting hot.
There are a lot of other signs, and you can find out more by researching online. Once you start to experience problems like this, regardless of age, you will have to consider replacing your hot water heater. Repairs problems can start to accumulate, and the cost of maintaining the heater will go up.
Who Can Help?
Certified plumbers know all about hot water heaters.
Installing and maintaining them is a job that they can accomplish for you. They have the experience and tools to make such a job easy and quick. Speak to a plumber in order to get an estimate on the cost of replacing your hot water heater.
You can also research ways to maintain your hot water heater once it is replaced. If you didn’t before, this could extend the life of your new hot water heater a considerable amount.
Every step you take to minimize the damage to your hot water heater, the longer it will last for you, and the less money you will spend.
Energy-Efficient Hot Water Heaters
Energy-efficient hot water heaters may be more expensive, but there is good research that they save money. They will also last longer because they are in general well made and newer.
The age of your hot water heater has a lot to do with how long you can expect it to last, as you have seen.
Hot Water Heaters and Your Home
Keeping hot water running through your house is about more than just convenience. It is a matter of sanitation and safety. Without hot water, dishes can’t be cleaned, and neither will handwashing and showering be as sanitary.
If you have asked yourself, how long do hot water heaters last, don’t wait too long. Going without hot water for any length of time is a miserable experience that could even increase your chance of getting sick.
If you have experienced any of the warning signs or your hot water heater is getting old, consult with a plumber you trust about replacement. The sooner you get a new hot water heater, the less time you will spend worrying about it.
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