How Long Does A Water Heater Last?

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The warm water used for bathing and performing other household activities comes from the water heater. Like every other electric-powered machine, it is bound to develop faults at some point. But how soon would this be? If you would like to know how long heaters last, we have done thorough research to come up with the answer below. 

A traditional tank-type water heater will continue to work at its highest level for about 8-12 years. The tankless water heater can last up to 20 years. Note that this time estimation is for a water heater that is properly maintained. The brand you buy can also affect longevity as well. 

To know which brands of water heaters are the best, hang on and keep reading. We would also discuss how long your heater should last and the signs you should look for when it's time for a replacement. 

Female hand puts thermostat of electric water heater (boiler) in economy mode. Household enegry saving equipment - How Long Does A Water Heater Last

Water Heaters 

Shower and water heater in a white bathroom.

Before the invention of the water heater, the only way to get warm water was by boiling water on the stove-top or an open fire. The effort put into this and the accompanying health side effects can be discomforting. 

With water heaters, a warm water supply to various points in your home is possible. Many homes can't do without a water heater, especially during winter. Water heaters work by converting electricity into heat. They use a heating element to boil water in the tank and then circulate it through an insulated pipe to the tap.

The dip tube is a long tube attached to the bottom of the water heater tank. It is used to maintain water pressure by providing cold water from the bottom of the tank when hot water is needed. The thermostat is responsible for regulating the temperature of the water in the tank.

How Long Does a Water Heater Last? 

There are two types of heaters, and they differ in the estimated lifespan. A tank-type water heater has an average lifespan of 8-12 years. The tankless type, being the recent model, can be used for up to 20 years without reducing work output. 

Although factors such as electric input, type of water heated, and the physical maintenance factors play a huge role in determining the lifespan of your water heater. 

Types of Water Heaters

Residential Water Heater with the panel removed for repairs or adjustments to the thermostat.

Here are the types of water heaters: 

Conventional Water Heaters

A conventional water heater is a type of water heating system that has been around for many years. The most common type of conventional water heater is a tank with an electric element to heat the water.

There are two main types of conventional water heaters: tankless and storage-type. Storage-type uses the same amount of energy to produce more hot water, making it more efficient in larger homes and businesses. Tankless systems, as the name implies, don't come with a tank.

They save space, so they work well in smaller homes where hot water isn't used as often. A conventional water heater holds water at about 110 degrees Fahrenheit. It is efficient in different climates and cheaper and easier to install.

Heat Pump Water Heater

A heat pump water heater is a device that warms water by extracting heat from the surroundings. The heat pump does not generate heat directly. Instead, it extracts the heat from the outside air and transfers it to the water.

It is more efficient than a traditional electric resistance heater because it can use less electricity, and it is more efficient than gas because there is no fuel cost.

Solar Water Heater 

A solar water heater is a device that heats water using the sun's energy. This is done by converting the sun's rays into thermal energy. The solar radiation can be collected through a collector consisting of one or more dark-colored surfaces (typically metal).

Solar water heaters are green and renewable energy technology that is good for the environment and saves money on utility bills.

Signs Your Water Heater Needs to Be Replaced 

A close-up of water leaking out of an access panel of an electric water heater onto the concrete floor of a basement with a cinder block wall in the background.

After using your water heater for a while, it might start to develop faults. The water heaters get to the point where corrosion might start. The lining in them would become destroyed by ions water during the normal electrolysis within the heater.

Although water heaters are produced to resist damage by these ions, over time, it stops. The deterioration might progress to the point where you switch on your water heater, reducing its heating level!  

Also, maybe this is due to physical maintenance, but whenever your heater starts dripping or can't hold water anymore, your heater likely needs to be replaced. 

In summary, here are the crucial signs that your water heater needs to be replaced as soon as possible:

  1. An old water heater would heat water slower, unlike when it was still new 
  2. Water coloration: As explained earlier, corrosion occurs in your water heater. The rust in the water heater will be mixed with water, causing discoloration in the water coming from the tap. 
  3. Water Dripping: It's likely the inner lining of your water heater has been damaged to the level where the water might start leaking. 
  4. Popping sound: Your water heater's calcium and magnesium sediments produce a popping sound. 

These signs are irreversible unless you change or repair your water heater. 

Which Brands of Water Heaters Are The Best? 

There are several brands of water heaters, and it is a good buying decision to purchase from the best brands in the market. The credibility of these companies is speculation that their water heaters will last longer due to authenticity. Here is the list of the top brands you should look out for

  • A.O. Smith: You can get a water heater with at least 12 years warranty from the A.O. Smith company.
  • Rheme: The water heaters from Rheme are environmentally friendly and durable. They produce tankless, tank, and hybrid water heaters. 
  • Navien: Known for its tankless water heater, it is also a very prominent brand in the water heater industry. 
  • Kenmore: They are known for producing kitchen appliances and water heaters. They have been around for a while too. 
  • Bradford White: They produce durable water heaters with a guarantee of about 20 years. 

How to Repair or Replace Your Water Heater

Technician repairing combi Gas Boiler

There are a few things to note about replacing or repairing your water heater before spending money doing so. One of the most important things to look at is cost-effectiveness. There are simple faults you can easily replace in your budget-friendly water heater.

When your water burner has a faulty burner, a faulty circuit, or a faulty thermostat, you can still repair them easily. But there is more extensive damage that would mean you spend close to the cost of a new heater. 

Also, if any issue is observed when your water heater is still under warranty, then go back to the manufacturer to fix and repair the water heater. If the issue is minor, you can risk repairing it yourself. 

On the other hand, you will need to replace your water heater once it starts leaking or if the degradation of the inner parts causes a rust issue. Finally, when replacing with a new one, make sure you purchase one from a credible manufacturer and a good amount of years as a guarantee.

How Often Should You Flush a Water Heater? 

According to experts, water heaters should be flushed at least once a year. This will improve the efficiency of the water heater. It is also an important procedure to increase the lifespan of your water heater. If you flush them, the sediment and minerals from hard water will be wiped out from your water heater.  

How Much Does it Cost to Flush Out a Water Heater? 

The cost of flushing out a water heater is not fixed. However, the average rate is between $80 and $100. This is just for a flush, so you would have to pay an additional service fee. 

How Long Does a 40 Gallon Water Heater Last For a Shower?

Female hand puts thermostat of electric water heater (boiler) in economy mode. Household enegry saving equipment

A 40-gallon water heater can produce up to 40 gallons of hot or warm water. The time it will take to heat depends on the temperature you prefer your water to be and the water heater's recovery rate.  

Most showers use up to 10 gallons of water. This means that 40 gallons of water will serve the shower four times. Meanwhile, If you stay in the shower for a bit longer, it might be consumed faster. 

To Wrap Up

Water heaters last at least a decade before you start observing any significant issues in them. If properly managed, some of them can last two decades or more. If your water heater is still providing you with warm water and there is no discoloration in the water, then, it is still at its best. There is no need for a change or repair unless some of the issues outlined in this article come up.  

For more articles about water heaters, read these articles: 

What Happens When Water Heater Goes Bad? 

How to Install Tankless Water Heater

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