Unfortunately, water heaters don't last forever, as much as we want them to. Higher quality water heaters last for a longer time than others, but ultimately, all heaters need to be replaced before they start producing much bigger problems (like leaks and water bursts). Thus, in this article, I'll be answering this question for you: how long does a water heater last?
How Long Does a Water Heater Last?
Essentially, a tank type water heater can last about 8-10 years. On the other hand, gas-powered water heaters have a shorter life of 6-8 years. When the age of your water heater goes beyond this lifespan, you can expect it to start having malfunctions or straight up break down.
However, regular maintenance checks and upgrades can help extend the lifespan of your water heater. If you're reading this article now while no problems exist, do your home a favor and perform a check up soon.
If your water heater is dangerously near the expected lifespan, it's wise to take a look at your water heater immediately. You never know, you can save its life and possibly extend it, too!
When To Replace a Water Heater?
If you feel that your water heater is nearing its inevitable death, you should either replace it or upgrade to a new one. But not all homeowners can readily replace their unit, just like replacing a garage heater. It's more often expensive and requires you to do some work.
In this section, we're going to find out the common signs that a water heater is about to fail. If one or all of these situations apply to your own home unit, consider getting a repairman to take a look.
1. Rusty water is coming out of your heater
When a water heater is very old, its interiors start to rust. At the first instance that rusty water comes out of the hot side pipes, perform this simple test to confirm that the rust is coming out from the inside of the water heater:
- Turn the gas burner knob to "vacation" option
- Shut off the cold water valve
- Connect an appropriate hose to the drain valve found at the bottom of the water tank, then place the other end of the hose at lower elevation (preferably down the drain)
- Turn the drain valve slowly to allow the hot water to drain from the tank
- While the water is draining, turn on a sink that is nearest the water tank to prevent a vacuum from forming
- After most of the hot water is drained from your water heater tank, turn on the cold water valve again and allow the same draining process to occur
- Wait for the water to run clear before turning off the drain valve and returning the water heater to its previous settings
This process should flush your water heater tank of rusty sediments, and also serves as a test if it is your water tank that is rusting and not the pipes. Once you do this temporary fix, you can enjoy maybe a few weeks of clear water. However, I strongly recommend that you consider replacement as soon as possible.
2. Your water heater makes noise
Rusty sediments and other gunk will accumulate at the bottom of your water heater tank over time. When these sediments harden into a layer at the bottom, this will cause the banging noises you hear from your tank.
If this situation applies to you, I also recommend replacement or repair as soon as possible. The layer at the bottom will both prevent the water tank from working efficiently (more energy used and wasted), and also cause more damage to your tank. Damage will mean leaking, so be careful.
3. You notice leaks around your water heater
For this scenario, repair may extend the water heater's life, but not for long. Damage over time will cause cracks or breaks on the water heater's structure and cause water to leak from the vessel.
However, be sure to check first the other pipes, connections, and fittings on your water tank. Ensure that they are not the source of leaks. And if they aren't, it's probably more wise to replace your water tank than spend money on repair.
Replacing a Water Heater
When your water heater is beyond repair, an upgrade may be the more economical option. New models are more energy-efficient than older ones and can save you up to $700 in energy bills. Moreover, new models have innovated designs that help the water heater to last longer; with upgrades such as glass liners that cause less corrosion.
So how much does a new water heater cost? Well, you'll probably have to pay around $500-$1,500 to install a new unit in your home.
After you've installed a new unit, maintain it by doing the flushing process at least once a year. This will not only help the water heater run more efficiently, it will also extend its lifespan.
Another good maintenance tactic is to regularly check the anode rod, an apparatus that collects corrosive elements. When you find the anode rode damaged, caked with sediments, or almost gone, you can replace it with a new one for only $30.
A water heater is an essential component of Western homes, where the climate is cold. Most water heaters can last up to 10 years, but this lifespan can be doubled with proper maintenance and care. But what do you do when your water heater starts to fail?
As we've done in this article, you have to check your water heater thoroughly to confirm that it is the problem. Otherwise, you'll be wasting money on an unnecessary upgrade. If, however, your unit is beyond repair, a replacement is needed. On the bright side, new units are more energy efficient and can save you money in the long run.
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