Homeowner question of the day: How many years does a hot water heater last?
Find out how your water heater works, what can go wrong, and how long it should last. How many years does a hot water heater last? That’s an excellent question and one that homeowners have been asking for as long as water heaters have existed. You can’t live without hot water, so a water heater is not a luxury - it’s a necessity. But how many years can you eke out of your current unit? To get a better idea of how your water heater works, what can go wrong, and how long it should last – read on!
How Does a Water Heater Work?
Some primary components make a water heater work. They include:
- Dip tube
- Shut-off valve
- Heat-out pipe
- Heating element
- Drain valve
- Pressure release valve
- Anode rod
What Do These Components Do?
The tank holds the water and is the primary container for all of the components enabling a water heater to heat your water. The dip tube is where the water goes into the tank, directing it to the bottom for heating. The shut-off valve prevents more water from going into the tank if the tank is already at capacity. The heat-out pipe is how the hot water gets from the tank to your pipes and then to your taps. The thermostat is in charge of monitoring the temperature of the water and either turning the heating element on or off, depending on whether the water is hot enough or not. The drain valve is the valve that lets water out of the tank in the event the tank needs draining. The pressure release valve keeps the tank from breaking or leaking should the pressure inside it get too high. And the anode rod resides inside the tank and prevents rust and corrosion, which can leach into your water.
Without all of these parts working together, we wouldn’t be able to have the efficient and effective water heaters we have today.
What Could Go Wrong?
With all of these components working together, what could possibly go wrong? Even with the latest, state-of-the-art equipment, mechanical appliances like water heaters can fail. But just like any other appliance, there are some sure signs it’s reaching the end of its life.
One of the first clues your water heater isn’t working as well as it used to is a lack of hot water.
Whether you are dealing with inconsistent temperatures, the hot water running out more quickly than you’re used to, or no hot water at all, if you aren’t getting the same amount of hot water you have in the past, it could be a sign your water heater is on it’s way out.
Another signal is rust-colored water or water with a funny taste or smell.
If your anode rod wears out, it can cause the inside of the tank to rust and corrode. If the water doesn’t get regular service, sediment can build up inside the tank. Either of these issues can affect the quality of your water, and you can see, taste, and smell when it happens.
Is your water heater sounding a little rumbly?
Not a good sign. The system should be relatively quiet. If it’s making noises, it’s time to call a plumber. It could be a faulty valve that’s easy to replace, or it could be something more serious requiring water heater replacement.
One of the most significant signs of failure is water around the base of the water heater tank.
This could indicate a broken valve, a faulty thermostat, excessive pressure inside the tank, or simply an old tank that has broken down and no longer holds the water inside without leaking.
How Long Does a Water Heater Last?
If you notice any signs of breakdown in your water heater, it could mean it needs repair from a reliable plumber. It could, however, mean it needs a replacement. But how long does a water heater last? Generally speaking, a tank water heater should last between eight and ten years. That might not seem very long, but keep in mind water is one of the most corrosive things we use in our homes. It can take a toll on the entire system. A few factors can contribute to its life expectancy:
- The brand of water heater
- The quality of the unit
- Regular maintenance
The better the quality, the longer the life. And if you’ve been diligent about annual maintenance, you could get a few extra years of service out of it. If individual components break down and are repaired in a timely manner, this helps extend the life as well. This is especially true of the anode rod. If the rod needs replacing and isn’t, and the tank begins to rust or corrode, there’s no repairing that. It will require replacement.
What Should You Focus on When Shopping for a New One?
The primary things to focus on when shopping for a new water heater are efficiency, size, and price. Your budget will help determine all of these things for you, as will your water needs. If you have a large family, you’re going to need a system able to provide more hot water. If you live in a small house or a house without a basement, size is going to be an important factor. And if you’re trying to take care of the planet while saving money on your energy bill, efficiency is going to be at the top of your priority list.
Anthony Wimpey Plumbing Can Help
If your water heater is nearing the end of its useful life, it’s easy to just get a few more years out of it. But you may be sacrificing water quality, temperature consistency, and energy efficiency. Instead of guessing when you need to replace it, talk to the team at Anthony Wimpey Plumbing.
Our master plumbers can evaluate your current water heating system and help determine if and when it’s a good time to replace it. We can also recommend units that would be right for your family and your home, as well as install the new system for you. If you’re asking yourself how many years does a hot water heater last, it’s time to give us a call at 770-285-8861. Let's talk about it.