Reliable Warmth: How Long Can Water Heaters Really Last with Proper Maintenance?

October 25, 2023 | 
how long water heaters last

Most people don’t think about their water heater until it breaks down. If you’re wondering, “How long can water heaters really last?” the answer may surprise you.

Water heaters are essential for our daily routines, providing hot water for bathing, cooking, cleaning, and more. Regular maintenance helps extend their lifespan, saving you from the inconvenience and expense of untimely replacements. Various factors affect their lifespans. In this blog, we’ll talk about how to keep this appliance in good condition.

Water Heater Replacement

Replacing a water heater is expensive and inconvenient, especially when unexpected. Also, choosing between a traditional tank water heater and a tankless water heater affects your wallet and time.

Cost Implications

Tank Water Heater Replacement: Replacing a traditional tank water heater includes the cost of the new unit and installation labor and may require work to your existing plumbing and electrical systems. The total cost varies depending on the unit’s size, quality, and the complexity of the installation. On average, expect to spend anywhere from $800 to $2,500.

Tankless Water Heater Replacement: Tankless water heaters are typically more expensive upfront but often last longer and are more energy-efficient. Replacing a tankless unit is more costly, but you’ll save on energy bills over time. The total cost ranges from $1,000 to $4,500.

Ultimately, the choice between a tank and tankless water heater depends on your home’s hot water usage, budget, and available space. Tankless heaters are known for their energy efficiency and longevity, which offset their higher initial cost. However, tank water heaters are more affordable upfront and might suit households with lower hot water demand.

So, How Long Do Water Heaters Really Last?

Traditional tank-style heaters last around 10-15 years, while tankless heaters usually last longer, often up to 20 years or more.

Factors That Affect How Long Water Heaters Last

The lifespan of a water heater depends on several factors, including:

Water Quality: The water quality in your region significantly impacts the water heater’s lifespan. Hard water with a high mineral content causes more mineral buildup and sediment in the tank, reducing the overall efficiency and lifespan of the heater. In the case of tankless heaters, scale can accumulate in the heat exchanger and cause overheating.

Maintenance: Regular maintenance extends the life of your water heater. Flushing the tank, inspecting and replacing anode rods, and checking for leaks will help prevent corrosion and other issues. Tankless units also need to be flushed annually.

Temperature Settings: Excessive temperatures cause wear and tear on the heating elements and tank. Maintaining a moderate temperature setting will help extend the lifespan. OSHA recommends setting the water heater to 122 degrees.

Usage Patterns: How often and how much hot water you use can impact the heater’s lifespan. A water heater that constantly cycles on and off due to high demand may wear out faster.

Proper Sizing: Make sure your water heater is appropriately sized for your household’s needs. An undersized heater may wear out more quickly due to constant overwork.

Installation: Proper installation is crucial. An incorrectly installed water heater may experience issues like leaks or improper venting, which can shorten its lifespan.

Anti-Corrosion Features: Some water heaters have features like a glass lining or other corrosion-resistant materials. These features help protect the tank and extend its lifespan.

Location: The environment where the water heater is installed matters. Extreme temperatures, corrosive fumes, and clutter that restricts airflow will affect the unit’s lifespan.

Manufacturer: The quality and reputation of the manufacturer may impact the lifespan of a water heater. Read online reviews and choose a reputable brand known for producing durable and reliable units.

Warranty: The warranty that comes with the water heater will give you an idea of the manufacturer’s confidence in its product. Extended warranties often indicate a longer expected lifespan.

To increase the lifespan of your water heater, consider these factors and take appropriate actions, such as regular maintenance, monitoring water quality, and selecting the right type and size for your needs.

Bonus Tip: Insulated Blankets for Tank Units

Adding an insulated blanket to a tank water heater helps improve energy efficiency and increase the lifespan. These blankets offer an extra layer of insulation, reducing heat loss from the water heater’s tank. They help the unit maintain the desired water temperature, saving energy.

By reducing the workload, the insulation blanket decreases wear and tear on the heating elements and the tank, prolonging the water heater’s lifespan. It’s a cost-effective way to improve efficiency, save on energy bills, and extend the longevity of your tank water heater.

You Have Some Control Over Your Water Heater’s Lifespan

The longevity of water heaters will improve with proper maintenance. Regular care, such as flushing the tank, monitoring water quality, and inspecting for leaks, can profoundly impact the lifespan of these essential appliances.

Also, being mindful of factors like temperature settings and proper sizing makes a difference. Traditional tank-style water heaters can often last 10-15 years with care and attention, and tankless heaters can surpass 20 years. Your water heater can provide reliable warmth for many years with proactive maintenance.

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