We all want to maximize the lifespans of our appliances, but when it comes to water heaters, it’s good to know when to call it quits. Rather than waking up one morning to find that your shower is ice cold, it’s important to start planning to replace your water heater as it’s nearing the end of its life cycle. Here’s what you should know about how long water heaters last and the signs that they’re approaching the end of their usefulness.
So, how long do water heaters last? It depends.
First, it should be noted that like any other appliance, your water heater’s lifespan depends on how well it’s been maintained and its overall quality. You get what you pay for—if you choose the cheapest possible option, you’ll pay for it in the long-run with more hassles and earlier replacement. Your water quality matters too—hard water can reduce the lifespan of your water heater, sometimes significantly.
The biggest determining factor in how long a water heater lasts is its type. If you have a traditional water heater with a tank, you can expect it to last anywhere from eight to 12 years, on average. There is an anode rod inside the tank, which protects the lining by attracting corrosive particles. At some point, the rod itself will corrode and corrosive particles will begin to destroy the tank lining; your water heater is on borrowed time when this occurs and it will need to be replaced shortly.
Tankless water heaters will last much longer, up to two decades or more. These on-demand water heaters last longer than traditional water heaters with tanks because they’re not working around the clock. These, too, will corrode eventually though.
If you monitor your water heater’s performance carefully, you can pinpoint precisely when to replace it before it stops working altogether. Here are some clear giveaways that your water heater is on its last leg:
The previous section was about the tell-tale signs that a water heater should be replaced, but there’s something to be said for purchasing a new water heater before it gets to this point. Some experts recommend replacing a traditional water heater at between eight and 10 years of age, and a tankless water heater between 15 and 18 years.
Why replace a water heater that’s still working? Isn’t that wasteful? Well, it depends on how you look at it. Once water heaters reach this age, they begin to reduce in efficiency, wasting energy and costing you money on your utility bills. Most homeowners notice an immediate reduction in their utility costs after upgrading to a newer water heater. It also prevents you from dealing with the hassles outlined above.
Ultimately, it’s up to you if you want to monitor your water heater for signs that it needs to be replaced or simply switch it out for a more energy-efficient model before it begins to experience issues. Either strategy is preferable to ignoring your water heater until it stops working altogether!