When you have been a homeowner for quite a while, you’re likely to experience the unwelcome surprise of a water heater failure. It may be that the shower is running cold right when you’re getting ready for work. It may be that you notice an ever-growing puddle on the floor coming from the bottom of your leaking heater while you prepare for dinner guests. Knowing how long water heaters typically last and recognizing the signs of imminent failure can help you avoid the inconvenience and shock of a cold shower or indoor puddles. A water heater’s service life varies depending on its construction, the quality of the unit, and how well it was maintained. With this knowledge, you can be proactive by having the water heater replaced before a sudden and extremely inconvenient failure.
The Service Life of Tanked Water Heaters
A conventional tank-type water heater typically lasts an average of eight to 12 years. Inside the tank, a metal rod called an anode protects the interior wall of the tank by attracting any corrosive particles to itself through the process of electrolysis. When the tank ages and the rod deteriorates to the extent that it no longer functions, the particles settle on the bottom of the tank, where they eventually destroy the lining. Once this erosion starts, the water heater is approaching the end of its service life.
The Lifespan of Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters, which are also called “on-demand” water heaters, may last up to 20 years or even longer under ideal conditions. These appliances do not have to operate continuously as tanked heaters do to maintain a large reserve of hot water, and therefore last longer than tanked heaters. Eventually, tankless water heaters (which do not use anode rods) will also undergo corrosion and need replacing.
The Telltale Signs that a Water Heater is Nearing the End of its Service Life
- Unusual noises – In areas with hard water sources, calcium can collect at the bottom of the tank and harden, eventually forming a thick crust that causes the water heater to creak and knock while in use, a sure sign that a heater is approaching its end of service life.
- Discolored water – Tinted hot water, typically red, orange, or brownish-yellow, flowing from the faucet could be an indication of rust.
- A drop in water temperature – If the water is not as hot as it used to be or does not last for as long as it used to, the water heater may be approaching end-of-service life.
- Water leaks around the base of a water heater tank is a possible sign that it may have a crack or is rusting through the liner.
Whether you need an emergency water heater installation or preventive replacement, our expert technicians at E•D•S Air Conditioning & Plumbing are at your service to assess the condition of your water heater, perform any required maintenance, and professionally install a replacement so you can have peace of mind… and hot water.
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