How To Look At A House
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Why is an older water heater an insurance problem?
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Here’s some statistics from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, an insurance industry research organization:
- Most water heater failures occur when the water heater has reached its life expectancy and the tank begins to rust and corrode.
- The average age at failure was 10.7 years.
- More than two-thirds of all water heater failures are due to a slow leak or sudden burst of the tank.
- Water heater failures cost the insurance company an average of $4,444 per incident, after the deductible is paid.
Because water heaters corrode from the inside of the tank outward, there is often no external sign of it’s deterioration. The water heater in the picture above is 28 years old. Other than a little dust and some discoloration of the EnergyGuide sticker, it doesn’t look it’s age--and that’s the problem. It is a proverbial “accident waiting to happen.”
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 30 years old they will likely request that it be replaced as a requirement for coverage.
There are several things you can do to extend the life of an older water heater, such as draining the sediment from the bottom of the tank every couple of years and replacing the sacrificial anode as necessary, but the best way to avoid a water heater failure and subsequent water damage is to just replace it.
To find the age of your water heater, go to How do I determine the age of my water heater? Also, see our blog post What are the most common installation mistakes with water heater replacement?
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