Depending on the quality of the water heater that you chose and the maintenance routines followed by you, the average lifespan of a tanked water heater is between 9-12 years. That’s a ballpark. However, a lot of factors can affect it. The most important one of them all is maintenance.
If you have a tankless unit then it can last for twenty years or more.
Regular water heater maintenance is a very simple but time consuming task that is often put off by homeowners until the heater starts to show telltale signs of damage. This can either become so expensive that it will be a cheaper option to replace it altogether.
To fully understand the importance of frequent maintenance and how it can affect the lifespan of your water heater, let’s take a look at how heaters work.
The working of your heater
Your water heater has a tank that contains an anode rod which is designed to attract the sediments and the minerals found in the water. This prevents these impurities from settling on the bottom of the tank or on the inner walls of the tank. The impurities in water are highly corrosive and they continue to erode the anode rod over time. In a few years, the anode rod is completely eroded and this leaves your water tank open to corrosion. It starts with the tank lining and then the tank wall. The immediate result is leaking.
This happens irrespective of whether the water heater is gas powered or electric powered. So, if you have heard the myth that the power supply can affect the lifespan of your water heater, don’t believe in it.
Here are some of the factors that can affect how long your water heater will last.
The Quality of water— Your water heater tank holds water in it and this will cause corrosion. But there are other factors like the chlorine content, the amount of minerals, sediments and the pH levels in the water that can affect the corrosiveness. For this reason, it is common to find that the same model of a water heater installed in different locations have different average lifespans.
The Site of installation – Temperature fluctuations can increase the corrosion. If the water heater is located inside the house, then it is less likely to get corroded due to temperature fluctuations. On the other hand, an attic or a crawl space can be a harsh environment.
Maintenance – Without sounding like a broken record, a water heater without regular maintenance is prone to break down faster than you’d imagine.
Quality – You pay what you get for. If you pinch pennies, you will end up with a water heater that has a thin inner lining and a thinner anode rod which will erode faster.
Tips to extend the lifespan of your water heater
- Flush it annually to remove sediments in the tank
- Check it annually to see if you can spot any signs of corrosion on the outside
- Keep an eye out for signs of water heater problems. Some obvious signs are discoloration in the hot water flowing through faucets, a puddle of water near the base of the heater on the outside, a disgusting odor from the water, water is no longer as hot as it used to be.