No one likes cold showers. Especially during our cold Minnesota winters.
For many homeowners, staying on top of their water heater’s condition is a priority. But how long do water heaters last? When should a homeowner expect their water heater to give out? What are the signs your water heater is worn out?
It depends a lot on the type of water heater you have, as well as how you maintain it.
Let’s dive in and get more specific answers.
HOW LONG DO WATER HEATERS LAST?
Knowing how long your water heater will last and when to replace your water heater involves several aspects. First, the signs of a failing water heater include tinted water, cold water, and clanking noises coming from the appliance, but we’ll get into those later.
Generally, a new water heater will last an average of 12 years, give or take, with proper maintenance and service. However, many factors play a part in determining how long your hot water heater will last, including these little-known facts. Factors that affect your water heaters lifespan include:
- Tank vs tankless
- The quality of your water (hard water can lessen lifespan by 2 years or more)
- How often you use it
- If it’s poorly located in a crawl space or basement where it takes longer to heat up
The lifespan also depends on the type of water heater you have. Tank water heaters will last an average of 8 to 12 years, while tankless water heaters can last even longer, up to 20 years.
There are also electric and gas water heaters that will vary in lifespan, but in general gas ones last 8-12 years, while an electric heater could last upwards of 10-15 years.
3 SIGNS YOUR WATER HEATER NEEDS TO BE REPLACED
There are a few key signs that can let you know it is time to replace your hot water heater. First, if it’s over 10 years old and you notice some of the following issues, it probably means your water heater is on its last legs.
1. YOU’RE NOT GETTING ENOUGH HOT WATER
One of the first signs your hot water heater is failing is an insufficient amount of hot water through your faucets or shower. If you run the shower and within minutes you’re only getting cold water, it could be a sign of excess sediment or mineral deposits in your water heater.
When a water heater nears the end of its service life, it has difficulty heating water up consistently. If you notice that hot water runs out quickly, your water heater is likely too old to keep working properly.
2. SEDIMENT BUILDUP IN YOUR TANK
Sediment can build up at the bottom of the water tank in older appliances and affect the heating elements that give you consistent hot water. Large amounts of sediment buildup decrease the space inside the tank for water.
Sediment buildup also can cause a tell-tale signal of a dying water heater— the calcium deposits harden and form a thick crust that causes the water heater to make creaks and rumbling noises during use.
You can call a repair person to clean out the sediment and flush your system which could help alleviate the issue. If it’s an older appliance it may be best to consider a replacement.
3. WEAR AND TEAR FROM POOR MAINTENANCE
Another common issue—especially in tanks that have not been properly maintained—is regular wear and tear. If you find your water heater leaking or making knocking noises, it’s a good sign it’s out of commission. Also, when rusty water runs through your faucets, and your tank is over 10 years old, go ahead and get yourself a new water heater.
Water heater repair can be costly and there are often numerous parts that need replacement. Therefore, if you find yourself having to make more than one repair on it, replace it, and make sure you give it the proper maintenance it needs to last.
ADDITIONAL WARNING SIGNS OF A WATER HEATER THAT NEEDS REPLACEMENT
In addition to the three warning signs detailed above, there are more signals to keep your eye out for. If you notice any of the following issues, call a trusted plumber right away:
- Water pooling around the base of the heater
- Limescale buildup on plumbing surfaces
- Tinted red or yellow water
- Odd-smelling or tasting hot water
PLAN AHEAD TO REPLACE YOUR HOT WATER HEATER
Taking into account lifespan, location, usage, and hard water, you can estimate pretty well how long your hot water heater is going to last. Industry experts like Bob Vila say it may be a good idea to replace your hot water heater before the end of its expected lifespan.
THINK TWO YEARS AHEAD
Replacing your hot water heater at least two years before it dies could actually save you from a lot of pain and strife. Once your tank-style hot water heater becomes 8 to 10 years old, start planning a replacement. Do the same when your tankless water heater reaches 15 to 18 years of age.
You avoid the unexpected expense and can budget for a new water heater if you know it’s nearing the end of its lifespan. You also avoid the pain of having to be without hot water while you wait for it to get repaired. Lastly, you can take your time, do your research, figure out how long water heaters last, and pick the right heater that suits all of your needs.
UTILIZE NEW TECHNOLOGY TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
As the years go by and newer models are produced, chances are your 10-year-old water heater has been less efficient than any newer model for quite some time. It’s likely your water heater is either not meeting requirements, or is at least unnecessarily raising your utility bills due to inefficiency.
When you upgrade to a newer model of water heater, you will notice how the technological advances made in the meantime will make your utility bill drop right away. Read more here about how efficient water heaters should be, plus how a new one can put money back in your pocket.
INQUIRE ABOUT WARRANTIES
It can never hurt to contact the manufacturer if your water heater is still under warranty. Especially if your water heater is only a few years old, the issue could be fixable under warranty— saving you a lot of money. Before you plan to invest in a new water heater, call the manufacturer to see if you can buy any extra time before needing a replacement.
WHICH BRANDS OF WATER HEATERS ARE THE BEST?
When it comes to water heaters, you do not want to cut corners and get something cheap. So yes, brands matter. But when looking for a new water heater, it can be overwhelming choosing between different brands and types of hot water heaters on the market. One way to start is by researching the type of hot water heater you want.
You may go with any of the following options:
You can choose whichever you think works best for your home. But, a better bet may be researching the most reputable brands out there because along with the type of heater, you want to consider:
- Customer service
Some of the most reputable and popular brands you’ll find when you search for the best water heaters include:
Some of those brands are familiar household names that have supplied homes with top-of-the-line appliances for decades. That familiarity can be enough to prove where they stand when it comes to reputation and quality.
But, for a brand that specializes in a smaller line of products related to water heaters, filters, and other plumbing fixtures, A.O. Smith, Bradford White, and Rheem may be your best bet. In fact, if you look for the top 10 best water heaters chances are you will see these brands in any given list.
Brands like Bradford White that are supplied by professional plumbers are much higher quality than water heaters mass-produced for big-box retail stores. Avoid the sting of a sudden cold shower and contact us today to get a hot water heater that does the job.
REPAIRING OR REPLACING YOUR WATER HEATER
If you are thinking your water heater is in need of repair or replacement, it’s time to call in the professionals. AJ Alberts has a team of licensed professionals who are sure to get your water heater up and running in no time! Reach out to us today to get your water heater repair or replacement underway.