How long does a water heater last?
In many households, hot water is an essential thing to have. Hence, we need water heaters to maintain the wonderful temperature of our hot showers.
To make sure that you will get the supply of hot water you and your family require, you will need to keep an eye on your heater’s condition to be able to reap the benefits for a much longer time. Which allows us to ask the question, how long will our water heaters last?
The lifespan of a water heater
In some cases, water heaters can generally last for around two decades if they are properly used and maintained. However, this is not always what happens and, in some instances, you may need to replace yours if you have been using them for around 8 to 10 years.
Of course, how long your water heater lasts will depend on many factors. The main one you should consider is the type of water heater you are using in your home.
The different types of water heaters and how long each of them lasts
Depending on the type of water heater you are using, you may get a couple of years less or more on it.
Here are the 5 commonly used types of water heaters:
a) Tank water heaters
b) Tankless water heaters
c) Heat pump water heaters
d) Solar water heaters
e) Condensing water heaters
Tank water heaters, also called the conventional storage tank water heater, are the most affordable type that can be found in many places. Since they are fairly easy to install, many American homes prefer using them for their convenience.
Another reason behind their popularity is that there is no specific requirement as to what climate they work best in. As long as they are properly maintained, they will continue to provide quality performance, although one might be turned off by their bulkiness. The conventional heater uses a tank to store the heated water it produces until they are used by the household.
How long are they expected to last? Most tank water heaters can last for 8 to 12 years.
Tankless water heaters, also called the on-demand water heaters, use their coils to heat water instantaneously when a household needs it. Since they are very compact in size, homes that have minimal space only have them as their only option for heating water.
Due to the reason that they only heat water when necessary as they have no storage, they require less energy which translates to lower electricity costs per month. Unfortunately, the initial costs of installing an on-demand water heater are too high compared to the cost of installing the other types available for use. They also have a low flow rate which may be an issue for families with multiple households.
How long are they expected to last? Most tankless water heaters can last for 15 to 20 years.
Heat pump water heaters, also called the hybrid water heaters, are ultimately functional even if it does not generate heat directly. Instead, they use the heat in the air and ground to heat the water that the household requires. Since they use a lesser amount of energy, they can save tons of energy which will eventually result in lower costs.
When you use a heat pump water heater, one benefit that you will enjoy is that it requires less maintenance than the other types of heaters. Unfortunately, they need a lot of space and also need to be placed in areas with a temperature of around 40 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 4.4 to 32.2 degrees Celsius.
How long are they expected to last? Most heat pump water heaters can last for 10 to 15 years.
Solar water heaters get the power they require from the sun. By using panels that are usually mounted on their roofs, a household can heat their water when the energy from the solar panels connect to their water tank which heats it up.
Since they use renewable energy, solar water heaters are the best option for the people who want to reduce their carbon footprint. Hence, using them can lessen the pollution by a significant amount compared to using the other types of heaters. Unfortunately, they are only useable in areas with plenty of sunshine and the initial costs in installing one can limit its accessibility to the general public.
How long are they expected to last? Most solar water heaters can last for 15 to 20 years.
Condensing water heaters are best for homes that mainly use gas as their energy source. Since the heating process makes use of the hot exhaust gases that exit your home, they allow you to cut energy costs and reduces your monthly bills in the long run.
When a household requires hot water, the heater will warm the required supply instantaneously. Unfortunately, the benefits of getting a condenser water heater are not enough to convince homeowners as they are very bulky and can be very difficult to install. Also, the costs of installing one are almost 2 or 3 times more than the cost of installing a conventional water heater.
How long are they expected to last? Most condensing water heaters can last for 15 to 20 years.
What determines the lifespan of your heater?
Aside from the type of heater you use, there are other factors that can affect how long it will last.
1. How you use your water heater
Do you use your water heater properly? Or are you overworking it way beyond its capacities?
In some cases, households can sometimes use too much heated water that goes beyond the capacity of their heaters. When this happens often, putting your heater under too much stress significantly decreases its life expectancy and you may have to replace it much sooner than expected.
2. The quality of your water
Did you know that the hardiness of your water affects the lifespan of your heater? This is because hard water often causes minerals to build up and accumulate in your tank. In many cases, the sediments affect your heater’s efficiency and also its life expectancy in the long run.
3. The location of your heater
Where do you store your water heater? Do you give your heater enough space, or do you place it nearby other appliances that also generate heat?
Most heaters must be placed in an area where airflow is encouraged. This allows your heater to cool itself when necessary and lessens the stress and condensation it gives off.
4. The maintenance and care you give to your heater
If there are any issues that you are experiencing with your heater, do you just leave it be or call for a professional to fix it as soon as possible?
Ultimately, the main factor that will determine whether your heater lasts for a long time is how you care for it. As long as you do the necessary things to maintain your heater, you can expect it to last for the years to come. However, if you just let the issues continue without doing anything about them, chances are you will have to replace a major part or even your entire heater sooner than you may expect.
Water heater repairs and replacements – when are they necessary?
As long as your water heater can still be used, it is normal to delay replacing it entirely.
Repairing or replacing some parts when it is still possible to do so is always a priority.
Unfortunately, there are some cases when it may be best to replace your heater instead. This is often our only option when repairing your heater is more expensive in the long run.
When should you repair your water heater?
If you are in the following situations, calling a repairman to fix or replace some parts is still an option. However, make sure to do so as soon as possible. If not, the problem may come to the point where replacing the heater is the only option you will have.
• Faulty thermostat
When your thermostat is failing, it will be overkill to replace the whole unit. Instead, you can troubleshoot and decide if it is fixable or if you just need to get a new thermostat for your
Fortunately, replacing a thermostat is easy and inexpensive. All you need to do is purchase
the part from the manufacturer’s website or by ordering it online.
When this might be the case: You can determine if your thermostat is faulty if there are times when your water is too hot to handle. In some cases, the hot water may not be enough or may take too long to reheat.
• Failing circuit breaker
There are many causes behind a tripping circuit breaker. Aside from a faulty thermostat,
some malfunctioning heating elements or even dripping water may be causing the issue.
If this is the case, you just need to determine the cause and fix the specific issue as soon as
you can. For example, if water causes the problem, you may need to repair a failing gasket to stop this from happening again.
When this might be the case: Your heater stops working on its own for a short time, which results in you needing to always turn it on manually.
• Failing pilot light
Are you using a gas water heater? In some cases, you may encounter some problems that concerns its pilot light.
Your heater’s pilot light is a very essential part that makes the heater functional. If it is not
doing its job properly, it will not be possible to heat the water that your household requires. If
this is the case, try checking if you have a sufficient gas supply.
When this might be the case: Your pilot light tip is producing a flame that is orange or yellow in color instead of a bright blue. Another sign of a failing pilot light is when it flickers.
• Hissing sounds
Do you hear hissing noises in your water heater? There is no need to look for a replacement as soon as you do.
In many situations, the cause may be traced to sediment buildup or a faulty thermostat. As
mentioned earlier, minerals and sediments may accumulate faster in your heater’s tank if you are using hard water. If this is the case, you can drain your tank to flush your heater every now and then to fix the problem.
When this might be the case: You live in an area which is known for having hard water.
• Leaking water pipes
Pinpoint the exact location where the leak is coming from and have a technician replace your pipes when possible. If it will take time for your technician to arrive, it may be best to turn your water and power supply off before the issue is fixed.
• Leaking pressure valve
If there is too much pressure in your T&P valve, there is a huge chance that it will leak to
release the excess pressure in it.
During this situation, it is possible that tightening the valve can solve the problem. To be sure, it will always be best to contact a professional, as there may be other issues that cause your valve to leak.
When should you replace your water heater?
Of course, simply replacing or fixing some parts of your water heater to fix the problem may not be always possible. In the following situations, replacing your heater will be best for your pockets and the safety of your family.
• It is not supplying enough heated water for your household When talking about your heater not supplying enough water for your usage, this means that when you use it to shower, you are frequently running out before you are finished. In this situation, the problem may be due to a small heater tank that is not enough to accommodate your needs. In this case, you will need to size up your heater to a bigger one that is higher in capacity.
• It is expensive to keep
Are your monthly bills too high due to your water heater? If using your heater causes a surge in your bills, you may think twice about replacing it with a more cost-effective one if it is an option. Also, if you are spending too much money on maintaining your water heater, you should definitely call a technician to recommend a newer heater that will be better for your budget.
• It is already too old
Just because your heater is too old does not really mean that you have to replace it, especially if it is still working well. However, if it is too apparent that your heater has absolutely run its course, it is time to replace it with a newer unit.
Do you find your heater to malfunction a couple of times in a year? Is it already rusting? Do you hear banging sounds when you are using it? In this situation, your heater is in desperate need of a replacement.
How can you make your heater last longer?
Nobody wants to spend their hard-earned money to fix or replace a water heater.
As much as possible, most of us will always scrimp to save up on maintenance and replacement costs when it comes to the machines and appliances we use in our homes. Unfortunately, maintenance costs should always be part of our budget if we want to make our heaters last for a long time.
Additional tips to make your heater in tiptop shape:
1. Flush your heater twice a year to prevent sediment buildup.
2. Replace your heater’s anode every 2 years.
3. Call a professional as soon as problems occur.