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How Long Do Water Heaters Last?

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Water Heater Lifespan in Columbus, OH

Your water heater is an essential appliance that many homeowners don't give a second thought to until it breaks down. Cold showers, dingy clothes, and poorly washed dishes are just a few of the symptoms that your hot water heater is not as effective as it once was.

One thing that many homeowners fail to realize is that these miracle tanks do need a bit of maintenance and care to keep working as they should for as long as they should. Failing to schedule maintenance checks, flush sediment, and condition hard water can cause your unit to break down much sooner than it was intended to. To ensure that your unit keeps functioning well into its later years, you'll need to commit to a regular care and maintenance schedule to get the most bang for your buck.

Replacing Your Hot Water Heater

If you suspect that replacing your hot water heater is on the horizon, you have questions to ask as you determine the type of unit that is right for you, your loved ones, and your home. Do you have hot water regularly? How many showers are taken in a day? How often do you do laundry and wash dishes, and is scalding-hot water necessary for all of these activities? As you narrow down your choices and capacity needs, take into consideration the types of water heaters that fit the bill.

Water Heater Life Span

There are various types of water heaters, all with different maintenance requirements, installation criteria, and safety considerations. Know what you are getting into with each and you'll have many years of hot water to help you tackle any household chore.

Storage Tank Heaters

Storage tank water heaters are the most common type of water heater on the market and in residential homes. An insulated tank uses a burner to warm water stored within, while a carefully regulated thermostat heats the water to your desired temperature. This hot water supplies your home's faucets, tubs, and appliances. While it would be nice if this water kept flowing freely when you need it, the disadvantage of tanks is that once you deplete a hot water supply, you must wait anywhere from thirty to ninety minutes to begin using hot water again. For families and individuals that have large capacity needs, a larger tank may be necessary.

Maintenance checks have to be performed in order for the unit to reach its intended lifespan. These checks include:

  • Visual inspection
  • Checking temperature and pressure relief valves
  • Checking heating element
  • Flushing sediment from your tank

If proper maintenance and care are performed, you can expect a tank water heater to last anywhere from eight to 15 years.

Tankless Heaters

A tankless water heater doesn't store large quantities of water for use. Instead, it heats water on demand. Tankless heaters are regarded as more energy-efficient than their counterparts with tanks, as they don't require heating large amounts of water and keeping them at constant temperatures while waiting to be used. However, depending on your usage, tankless water heaters may not be able to keep up with the demand for hot water, and they tend to be more costly to install than tank heaters. This type of heater is becoming more common as time goes on, thanks in large part to their energy efficiency and lower risk of corrosion.

Regular maintenance checks for tankless heaters include:

  • Flushing the unit with cold water and then with food-grade white vinegar
  • Cleaning the air intake filter
  • Checking the anode rod for proper connection

When done correctly, maintenance on a tankless heater can buy you anywhere from 18 to 20 years. Keeping components and connections in good condition will ensure that you have an ample supply of hot water when you need it.

Combination Heaters

Combination water heating systems combine a hot water heater and a central heating boiler into one highly-efficient unit. Using this single unit to both heat water and your home will help you save on your energy costs, but they are not recommended for homes that don't contain an existing boiler system, as they are quite costly to install. If you're ready to yield long-term savings, however, this may be the system to go with.

A typical boiler maintenance schedule includes:

  • Checking connections for corrosion or defects
  • Verifying burner settings
  • Inspecting for electrical or fire damage
  • Testing for water and pressure leaks
  • Checking gas regulator pressure settings
  • Replacing or certifying safety valves

When properly maintained, you can expect a combination system to last anywhere from 8-15 years.

Factors That Affect Performance

Several different factors affect the life and efficiency of your water heater. Some of these factors are things you can control, while others must be dealt with as they arise.


One of the most dangerous issues surrounding water heater use is neglect. Usually tucked away in a basement or garage, they are quite easy to forget about as you go about your daily duties. Mark your calendar with scheduled maintenance reminders to ensure that you are giving your unit the attention it needs to continue working for you.

Sediment Build-Up

Sediment is created as hard water is heated to high temperatures. It will build up first on the bottom of your tank and begin insulating the bottom from the anode rod. It will eventually cause the base of the tank to overheat and melt away the protective lining, which is what causes a unit to begin leaking. Once a unit has shown signs of leaking, it's time to replace it as soon as possible.

Interior Rust

Anodes protect the inside of a water heater from corrosive rust. As with all components immersed in water, they will corrode over time. Checking this component will be an essential part of extending the life of your water heater, as it is far easier to replace this small part than an entire unit.

High Water Pressure

If your water pressure gauge shows a reading that is above 80 psi, it is working too hard to deliver the goods. Including an expansion tank in your system will protect your pipes against damage and premature failure of your unit.

Apex Pros: Getting The Job Done Right

With skilled and talented plumbing professionals just waiting to answer your call, Apex Plumbing is ready to address your water heater maintenance, repair, and replacement. Our 5-star satisfaction guarantee is something we are committed to providing each of our valued customers; we care about your home and its efficient function as much as you do. Providing superior service, quality installation, and repair, and free, no-obligation estimates, you can be sure that our trusted professionals will get the job done right every time. Contact us today for your free installation quote, and look forward to hot water once more! Visit our website at www.apexproscomdev.wpenginepowered.com for more information.