The Truth About Water Heater Life Expectancy and How to Extend It

How To Extend Water Heater Life Expectancy? - Lee Company

If you’ve ever showered in an ice-cold stream of water, you know how important a water heater can be! They are an essential part of modern life, providing us with the hot temperatures we need for bath time, dishes, laundry, and so much more.

While we depend on water heaters daily, most of us don’t think much about them until they break. When they start acting up, we often wonder how long they should last and what we can do to extend their lifespan.

We don’t want you to replace your water heater any sooner than necessary, so today, we’re sharing the truth about water heater lifespans, along with some tips for maintaining your unit and keeping it running strong.

What Is the Normal Life Expectancy of a Water Heater?

Can a water heater last 30 years? It’s certainly possible but not common. The typical lifespan of a water heater is around 8-12 years. Most units will start to show signs of wear around the 10-year mark. This may seem like a short lifespan compared to other home appliances, but keep in mind that water heaters work 24/7 to keep your family supplied with hot water.

Several things can affect how long your water heater will last, including:

1. The type of water heater you have

Tankless water heaters tend to last longer than traditional tank models.

2. The quality of the unit

Name brands and higher-quality units with thicker tanks and better insulation will usually last longer than budget models.

3. How well it’s been maintained

Properly maintained water heaters will last longer than units that have been neglected.

4. The water quality in your area

Hard water can shorten the lifespan of a water heater by causing mineral deposits to build up on the element and in the tank.

All water heaters will eventually reach the end of their lifespan and need replacing. But there are a few things you can do to extend the life of your unit and avoid an unexpected breakdown (and ice-cold showers!).

4 Tips for Extending the Lifespan of Your Water Heater

As a homeowner, spending money on repairs or replacements is never fun. A little preventive maintenance can save you a lot of money (and headaches) down the road. Here are three simple things you can do to extend your water heater’s life:

1. Flush the tank regularly

Over time, sediment can build up in the bottom of the tank and cause the unit to overheat. This can shorten the lifespan of the unit and lead to expensive repairs. To avoid this, it’s important to flush the tank regularly.

Most manufacturers recommend flushing the tank once a year. But if your home has hard water, you probably need to flush it more often.

2. Keep an eye on the pressure relief valve

The pressure relief valve is a safety feature that helps release pressure if the tank gets too hot. If the valve is damaged or not working properly, it could cause the tank to rupture.

It’s important to inspect the pressure relief valve regularly and ensure it works properly. This can be a potentially dangerous repair, so hire a professional if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself.

3. Test your water pressure

Since we’re talking about protecting your water heater from high pressure, it’s also important to note that there are two kinds of pressure:

  • City water pressure needs to be below 80psi and can be reduced by installing a Pressure Regulating Valve (PRV) to your main water line.
  • Thermal pressure happens when the water heater heats up and cools down. Thermal pressure can exceed 80psi when no one is using hot water, like in the middle of the night. So a thermal expansion tank is needed to help relieve the pressure. Not all water heaters previously had a thermal expansion tank, although this is now required by safety regulations, so we strongly advise installing one if you don’t already have one.

If pressure is too high, it can put stress on the tank and shorten its lifespan. Normal water pressure in your home should be under 80 psi (50-70 psi is pretty standard). You can test this yourself with a simple pressure gauge.

4. Invest in better water quality

Hard water can cause sediment to build up in your water heater, leading to corrosion and shortened lifespan. We recommend installing a water softener or using a filtration system if you have hard water. This will not only extend the life of your water heater, but it will also improve the quality of your water overall.

Water heaters are a big investment, so you must do everything you can to extend their lifespan. By following these simple tips, you can avoid expensive repairs and replacement costs down the road.

Warning Signs Your Hot Water Heater Is Going Bad

No matter how well you care for your water heater, there will come a time when it needs to be replaced. And just like any other appliance or piece of complex equipment, there are certain warning signs to watch out for.

If you notice the following red flags, it’s time to consider a new water heater:

  • Your unit is over 8 years old
  • There’s water leaking from the tank
  • The water isn’t as hot as usual
  • Hot water runs out faster than it used to
  • There are strange noises coming from the unit
  • The pilot light keeps going out (for gas water heaters)
  • Your water is discolored

These red flags may develop slowly over time or happen suddenly. So always keep an eye (and ear) out for signs that your water heater is on its last legs. When in doubt, schedule a home plumbing inspection.

When to Replace Your Water Heater

If you’ve been limping your water heater along for a few years, it may be time to replace it. The cost of continuous repairs can quickly add up, and it’s often cheaper, in the long run, to just get a new unit.

New water heaters are more efficient and will save money on energy bills. Depending on your state and county, you might qualify for a tax credit for certain water heaters, like solar or heat pump models.

Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether or not to replace your unit:

1. How old is the unit?

As we mentioned, most water heaters last about 10 years. So if your unit is getting up there in age, it may be time to upgrade.

2. What’s the warranty?

If your water heater is still under warranty, you may be able to get it repaired or replaced for free. Check your warranty documents to see what’s covered.

3. What’s the cost of repairs?

In some cases, repairing your water heater might not make sense. If the cost of repairs is more than half the cost of a new unit, it’s probably time to start shopping for a replacement.

Professional water heater installation

Installing a new water heater can be a big job, so hiring a qualified professional is important. Lee Company can help you choose the right size and type of unit for your home and install it at a competitive price.

Your new water heater will give you years of trouble-free service with proper installation! Contact us today to put your water heater woes behind you.

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