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How Long Does a Water Heater Last?

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It is crucial to pay attention to the lifespan of the water heater if you want to get the money’s worth. Understand that longevity varies on different water heaters. While tankless water produces hot water when needed, the tank water heater continuously heats the water.

On average, every water heater is expected to last between 8 to 14 years. However, there are situations where a newly purchased water heater starts showing signs of failing. Identifying and providing solutions to common heater problems will play an important role in prolonging its operational lifespan. You could have a working water heater for more than 16 years if maintained properly.

Having hot water all year round is a priority in most homes. Since it is a home plumbing staple, its service life is limited. You need to be ready when the water heater starts failing. You do not want to be left with only cold water in winter.

What is the lifespan of tank water heaters?

Whether it is a gas or an electric water heater, heated water is kept in an insulated tank. The anode rod in a tank water heater attracts the corrosive elements in the water, acting as a protective force for its interior lining from rusting. Over time, when you use the water heater for more than 10 years, the performance of the anode rod drops and gets eaten away.

Consequently, the interior lining of the tank is exposed to the corrosive elements settling on it. In most cases, it causes leakage in the tank.

How long does a tankless water heater last?

In the case of a tankless water heater, the more advanced technology makes it last longer than a tank water heater. The energy-saving tankless heater doesn’t have storage like the conventional heater. Instead, they are made in such a way as to combat the common problems associated with tank water heaters. In most cases, tankless water heaters last as long as 20 years. If you know how to maintain it properly, it could serve your home for more than thirty years. The fact that it produces hot water when required makes it an impressive appliance to have at home. Their lifespan is extended from their timely operation as they do not run every time. However, they are also prone to corrosion. The only edge it has over its counterpart is that it takes time before the tankless water heaters show signs of corrosion.

How to determine the age of a water heater

Finding out how long a water heater has been active is easier than imagined. All you need to do is locate the serial number on the sticker at the top of the water heater. Serial numbers mostly comprise numbers and letters.

The first two digits represent the production month and year. The “L” could be used to represent the last month in a year. The first month, which is January, is represented by the letter ‘A’. you can contact the manufacturer if you are having trouble reading the serial number. Finding out about the age of the water heater would give you an idea of how long it has been working. It will not only prepare you for eventualities, but it will also give you an idea of what to expect and how to save up for it.

Important factors that can determine the lifespan of a water heater

Some vital factors can determine the longevity of the water heater in your home. While some might impact it positively, some will reduce how long it will serve your household.

Quality of water

Frequenting heating of water will reduce the lifespan of the water heater unit. Also, the presence of hard water will cause a deficiency in its operation in the short run. Hard water contains minerals capable of creating limescale within the water heater. The good news here is: make use of water softeners to remove the minerals before they find their way to the unit.

Maintenance routine

Regular maintenance will certainly extend the lifespan of the water heater unit. No matter how strong the water heater is, poor maintenance practices will shorten its longevity. Always pay attention to it to enjoy the heater for a lengthy period.

Water heater materials

When fiberglass and other high-end materials are used to manufacture a water heater, they tend to have a longer lifespan than those made from steel.

Power source

Depending on specifications by the manufacturer, water heater powered by gas tends to have a lower lifespan than those powered by electric power by at least by a year.


Water heater units installed in a temperature-controlled region or home tend to last longer than those in cold places. In winter, the water heater works harder and tends to wear out faster.

Signs that you need to replace the water heater

There are specific warning signs to look out for that could mean the need to replace the water heaters. These include:

  1. Loud and unusual noise comes from the water heater whenever it is heating water. The banging and rumbling noises get worse over time. The reason for this noise is the buildup of sediment at the base of the tank. Large sentiment deposits decrease the amount of space in the water heater tank.
  2. A water machine shows signs of breaking down when it begins to rust. The rust or corrosion on the stainless-steel heater continues until it goes out of use. Corrosion can be found on the water inlet connection, water outlet connection, and pressure relief valve.
  3. When the hot water tank is leaking, it is an indication of a replacement. It is also linked to corrosion and might endanger any member of the household from an explosion. Check out the tankless water heater to prevent such an issue from reoccurring. If you are a fan of a tank water heater, get a leakage detector installed around the tank to alert you whenever there is a leakage.
  4. When the water heater unit keeps supplying lukewarm water, it is a clear sign you should start looking into the market for a new water heater. If the problem is not with the thermostats, you need a bigger tank to meet the higher demand.

How to extend the lifespan of a water heater

While it is wise to replace a failing water heater with a new one, you can also extend its lifespan without breaking the bank. It means you do not need to change it unless it is beyond maintenance or repair.

You should treat the water.

When you live in a place with hard water; tankless and tank water heaters can fall victim to limescale mineral deposits. As a result, the hot water often gets hot too suddenly. To solve this issue and extend the lifespan of the heater, get a scale-inhibiting filter to shield the heater unit. You can also get a water filter or softener for the whole house to protect the heater.

Scheduled maintenance

Inspecting and maintaining the water heater unit helps it to last longer. Contact an expert to carry out these scheduled tune-ups on the heater. They are in the best position to inform you if there is a need to repair, maintain or replace.

Draining of hot water

The draining can be carried out every six months. Flushing water from the tank helps to remove buildup sediments from the storage tank. You can either do this by yourself or call an expert plumber to help you with it.

Replacing the anode

The anode is the metal rod found in the water heater. Its job is to attract minerals that corrode the tank. You should check the anode road and replace it when it begins to age or loses efficiency. It should be done annually to extend the life of the water heater tank.

How can you install a new water heater?

Now that you have made up your mind about getting a new water tank you should do your research and choose the one that best suits your home needs. After acquiring the water heater, you can either contact an expert to help you with the installation or do it yourself. We often advise homeowners to call a professional plumber to avoid the wrong installation, and to avoid any safety and health issues.

If you choose to do the installation by yourself, ensure that you turn off the power supply or gas connection before beginning your job. Make sure all the connections are tightly secured on both ends for a successful installation process.


Understanding the lifespan of your water heater and how to extend it are two important things you should know as a homeowner. When there is an unusual noise, rust, or leakage, it means you should start thinking of getting a new one.

While some of the issues highlighted can be fixed temporarily, they are warning signs that the heaters have near the end of their operational lifespan. The average water heater is expected to serve your household for a minimum period of 10 years. Replacing a water heater can be expensive and there are many components to be replaced.

Poor maintenance, installing the tank in a basement or crawl space, and other environmental factors can shorten its lifespan, making a replacement a necessity.

John, Larry, Mike, owners of Western Rooter & Plumbing

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If you’re having plumbing issues or emergencies, contact Western Rooter & Plumbing online or call our dispatch center at (626) 448-6455. We are the Los Angeles County and San Gabriel Valley’s number one plumbers – don’t wait, call now!



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