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How Long Will A Hot Water Heater Last?

How Long Will A Hot Water Heater Last?

Everybody has a water heater in their home. This heater runs constantly and is one of the highest used pieces of equipment in your home. So it really needs to be maintained and serviced. One thing you can do today is flush the sediment from your heater which helps extend the life as well as save the need for having to call a plumber.

How Long Will A Hot Water Heater Last?

The average life expectancy of a heater is between 8 and 12 years. So if you take the average you’re looking at getting about 10 years out of your water heater whether it’s electric or gas. If you add a water softener you could extend the life a few years.

If you go much longer than that you’re treading on dangerous ground because there is no way of knowing if you waited one day too long and the heater ends up flooding your house or basement. After about 9-10 years of continued use the institute of insurance recommends that you have it replaced to be on the safe side.

Some manufacturers, like Rheem, will list the manufacturer’s date on the front of the machine but many of them won’t. If you’re not able to decipher the age of your water heater you can always call the number on the front. By giving them the serial number, they will be able to tell you when the unit was built.

Another important thing to note is that the efficiency of a water heater operates at about of 1/3 of what it normally does by the time it gets into around year eight.

One of the largest energy expenses that homeowners incur is heating water. Since the newer water heaters are a lot more energy efficient than the older models, investing in a new unit at the first sign of problems is not a bad investment.

How To Recognize That You Need A New Water Heater

Water leaking around the heater.

Before you replace your heater make sure that you check the gaskets around the heating elements and all the fitting for leaks. If you are certain that water is leaking from the bottom of your tank and not anywhere else, you’ve probably got a corroded tank which means that your heater is on it’s last leg. This happens when corrosion from inside the water heater has eaten its way through the steel and is beyond repair.

Dirt and Rust

A rusty and dirty looking water heater also could be from corrosion. Water heaters constantly produce extreme temperatures of heat. This heat increases the corrosive action of minerals and other compounds found in our municipal water supply producing rust. As stated above, when rust makes its way outside of the tank it’s a definite cause for concern.

Crackling and rumbling noises

Rumbling, popping and crackling noises coming from inside the water heater is a sign of sediment build up after years of use. This will cause your unit to overheat to the point such that the water begins to boil, creating the noises. If your heater is electric it may even make a high pitched whining sound which are lime deposits that have built up on the electrical heating elements. This is a perfect time for a sediment tank flush.

Bad Smell

Every gas heater whether it’s electric or gas has what is known as an anode rod inside. The sole purpose is to corrode in the tank before the steel does. Normally it’s made of magnesium or aluminum which corrodes faster than steel so that’s how it protects the tank. A rusting anode rod creates hydrogen gas that feeds bacteria in sediment and the result is a rotten egg smell in your water.


If you’re not getting any hot water or your water is too hot you can always try adjusting the thermostat to see if that will fix the problem. The optimal temperature for most household heaters is between 120-140 degrees Fahrenheit. After adjusting the thermostat, if you are still not getting any hot water the heating element is probably broken and needs to be replaced.

How long will a hot water heater last depends on what type of water heater you have and how well it has been maintained over the years. If your water heater at the end of it’s life cycle it’s a good time to start budgeting for a replacement.

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