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What is the average lifespan of a water heater?
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
You can expect a tank-type water heater to last 10 to 20 years, with the average of 12 years. But there are four variables that affect the lifespan:
1) Quality of manufacture - As your would expect, the premium-priced water heaters with the longer warranties and features like a porcelain-lined tank, larger heating elements, and better insulation will hold up longer.
2) Rate of usage - A 40-gallon water heater serving a family of six is not going to last as long as one serving an older couple with no children.
3) Installation - A homeowner or handyman installation can shorten the life of a water heater, especially a gas-fired one. For more on correct installation, see our blog What are the most common installation mistakes with water heater replacement?
4) Maintenance - The simplest and easiest maintenance item is draining the water heater to flush out sediment accumulation at the bottom every two years, or sooner if you have a lot of sediment in the water. For more on water heater maintenance, see our blog What can I do to make my water heater last longer?. And for specific instructions on how to drain and flush out a water heater, go to our blog Why is my water heater making strange (rumbling, gurgling, knocking or banging) noises? Most water heaters fail by leaking and we recommend that you give it a careful examination twice a year, looking for any telltale small, rust-colored drip strains on the top or sides, and especially around pipe connections—evidence of the beginning of tank failure.
Here’s a bar graph that compares the life expectancy of a tank water heater to other home plumbing appliances.
As your water heater ages, it can become an obstacle for getting or renewing homeowners insurance. When insurance companies request a 4-point inspection for older homes, as they are doing more often lately, if the water heater is over about 25 to 30 years old they will request that it be replaced as a requirement for coverage. For the statistics on why insurance companies get hot about water heater replacement, read our blog Why is an older water heater an insurance problem?
If you are not sure how old your water heater is, enter the brand name of the water heater along with “water heater age” in the search box at the top of this page.
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