One of the most important appliances in your house is the water heater. A properly-functioning water heater is extremely vital in most modern homes. Water heaters usually come in two forms: one that has a storage tank to make heated water available at any given time, and another which is a tankless type that only heats water when you need it.
In any case, homeowners should know how long water heaters last. However, even with regular water heater maintenance, it can be difficult to determine when it’s time to have them replaced. It’s also important to note that the lifespan of your water heater may depend on the type and quality of the unit. Bill Reynolds Heating & Air Conditioning, a top-quality provider of furnace installation services, shares a guide to the service lifespan of your water heater in this post.
What Is the Average Lifespan of a Water Heater?
Many factors can impact the life expectancy of your water heater. Along with its age and level of maintenance, you also need to consider the quality of the water and the level of regular usage. While it’s possible for your water heater to outlast average estimates, there are certain expectations on how long your water heater can last.
For instance, a traditional water heater has an average lifespan of eight to 12 years. Thanks to a process called electrolysis, an anode rod protects the interior lining by attracting all corrosive particles to itself inside the tank. However, once the rod has corroded to the point that it can no longer function, those particles will settle at the bottom of the water tank and eventually destroy the lining. When corrosion begins inside the tank, the water heater is beginning to near the end of its lifespan.
A tankless water heater, meanwhile, can last up to 20 years. With regular heating service maintenance, it can even last longer than that. This is because these water heaters don’t have to work continuously to maintain a supply of hot water. However, since they don’t use anode rods, tankless water heaters can suffer from corrosion over time.
If you don’t know what type of water heater you currently have, there are other ways to determine its age. One of these is checking the serial number of your appliance. The serial number, which is typically located on the upper portion of the water heater, consists of a letter followed by a set of numbers, which establishes the date it was manufactured. The letter usually stands for the month: “A” for January, “B” for February, and so on. When you see a serial number that starts with “A12,” this means your appliance was manufactured in January 2012. While this method can be applied to most water heaters, you can also reach out to the manufacturer just to be sure.
What Are the Signs You Need to Replace Your Water Heater?
To ensure your water heater continues functioning effectively, it’s best to have an expert plumbing and air conditioning repair technician perform professional inspections. They’ll examine your unit and perform the necessary repairs. Without regular maintenance, your water heater may suffer from wear and tear that causes premature deterioration.
Even if your water heater has a few years left in it, you may need to consider replacing your unit if you notice any of the following signs:
- Inconsistent temperatures. If your heater is on but you’re still getting cold water, your unit may not be as functional as it once was. Before you call a professional, closely examine the connections to and from the water heater. Check the insulated pipes and the temperature settings as well. If you have a gas-heated unit, check if the pilot light is still lit. Avoid striking a match if you notice a very strong gas smell.
- Rusty, brownish water. Tinted, rusty hot water that’s either brown or yellow in color can mean two things: your water heater is rusting on the inside, or your home’s pipes are rusty. It’s also important to determine whether the discoloration appears while the cold water is running. If it doesn’t, the corrosion problem probably originates from inside the water heater instead of the pipes. At any rate, be sure to call a professional heating service technician.
- Water that has a strange odor. The hot water coming out of the heater can smell off or taste weird. This means that something is contaminating the contents of the water tank. It could be a piece of metal that’s been absorbed into the water, or bacteria accumulating inside the tank. Before you start panicking, try cleaning your water heater tank. If this doesn’t solve the problem, it’s time to call a plumber.
- Pooling water or leaks. Water pooling around your water heater is never a good sign. As such, you should immediately call a heating or air conditioning repair company to have it checked out. If you notice pooling water around the base of your tank, be sure to check if the leak is coming from a fitting or valve that needs to be tightened or replaced. If the leak comes from the tank itself, there may be interior cracks.
- Banging or rumbling noises. Most manufacturers recommend flushing a traditional water heater annually, but only a few homeowners follow this advice. If you don’t, sediment can build up in your water heater as time goes by. As you heat it over and over again, the sediment can harden and eventually start shifting around. This causes rumbling or gurgling noises. Make certain not to overlook these banging noises, as this problem can lead to overworked water heaters, leaks, internal damage and more.
- A decrease in hot water. In addition to rumbling noises, the buildup of sediment can decrease the space inside the tank over time. As a result, you may notice that there’s less hot water than there used to be. If the hot water runs out more quickly than before, you may need to drain or clean your tank. Waiting too long to clean it can compromise the overall health and efficiency of your water heater.
Your water heater is an essential part of your home. Like most components and appliances, you need to be sure to have a professional inspect it annually. Get in touch with Bill Reynolds Heating & Air Conditioning for all your HVAC and plumbing needs. Our technicians provide services such as furnace installation and more. Give us a call at (440) 946-7863 or fill out our contact form to set up an appointment.