Water Heater Life Expectancy

A Look Into The Life Expectancy Of Water Heaters

The life expectancy of water heaters is cited as being somewhere between 10 and 15 years, and it doesn't seem to make a great deal of difference whether one is taking about electric water heaters or gas water heaters. The tankless water heaters typically last 5 to 10 years or so longer, the reason being the greater the amount of water stored the greater toll corrosion will take on a heating system.

A life expectancy or 10 to 15 years does not seem like a particularly long time, although to come across a residential water heater that is still working reasonably efficiently after 20 or even 25 years isn't unheard of. Still, when building a new home or remodeling an old one, when a water heater is to be installed, it's always a good idea to think ahead to the time it will have to be replaced, making certain the water heater is not  placed in a location what will make this difficult or impossible. When building a new home, the architect will usually take this into account. When remodeling, it's all too easy to relocate a wall or add shelving with the result that replacing a water heater all of a sudden becomes a major challenge.

There are several factors affecting the life expectancy of water heaters and while you may not be able to coax 20 or 30 years out of one, there are things that can be done that may keep a water heater running 2 or 3 years longer than it might have done otherwise.

Water Conditioners Can Help - The quality of the water is of course a major factor. Although water is often referred to as the universal solvent,  pure water will take a long time to eat away at a fiberglass liner, a very long time, and can take nearly a lifetime to corrode pipes or heating elements. But the water we use is not pure, even though it may be close to it, and often contains trace minerals or chemicals. This is especially true for those using well water, where to keep the life expectancy of water heaters within normal ranges the use of water conditioning systems is advisable.  Hard water is not only difficult to clean with in the sense it can be difficult to work up a good lather with it, but it is also hard on hot water heaters, as hard water usually contains lime, calcium or both, which tend to build up inside the heater, making it less and less efficient over time. If the average life expectancy or water heaters is 12 years, the average life span would more likely be 10 years in residences where the water is hard, all the more reason to consider installing water conditioners.

Flush Or Drain Periodically - The life expectancy can sometimes be increased by 2 or 3 years by flushing out the heater. This could be done annually or every other year with the purpose of removing sediment before it has a chance to harden or cake. If in attempting to flush out the heater by draining it from the bottom, and no water comes out when the spigot has been turned on, the sediment has already done its job, and the water heater may be entering the last phase of its useful existence.

Dig Out The Manual - It wouldn't hurt to dig out the maintenance manual for your water heater, assuming it wasn't tossed out soon after the water heater was installed. The manual may contain instructions or tips on things that can be done to extend the life of the heater for a few years. Admittedly a water heater is an appliance we intend to forget about, until it suddenly stops working, and we all know it will do so at the least opportune time. The life expectancy of water heaters could be said to be from the time of installation to the moment where failure will cause the greatest inconvenience and the impact on the pocketbook will also be the greatest, whether that is 5 years down the road or 35.