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What is My Water Heater Life Span?

Unless you’re living in a tropical country, a reliable water heater is critically important to your quality of life.

If your water heater goes bust during winter months, it may not just be an inconvenience. This is a major appliance whose function can really affect your whole family!

So, how much do you know about your water heater? What is a water heater life span? In this article, we’ll explore some important questions and give you insight on how to ensure you never go without hot water.

Types of Water Heaters

There are basically three types of water heaters: conventional tank heaters, tankless heaters, and hybrid heaters that are basically a combination of the first two.

Conventional tank heaters store water in a tank and keep it continuously heated up to a predefined temperature. They vary in capacity and efficiency and can take up a lot of space. The main advantage of conventional tank heaters is that they are economical and reliable.

Tankless heaters heat water with an electric resistance element or a gas burner, providing hot water on demand. They are typically more expensive than conventional tank heaters and have a longer water heater life span, but take up much less space and reduce energy consumption.

Hybrid heaters combine a tank with on-demand heating. They can be fairly expensive, but live for a long while and can deliver more hot water faster than a standard gas or electric water heater.

Factors that Affect Your Water Heater Life Span

If properly maintained, a typical tank water heater can last for about a decade, while a tankless heater that’s not overused can last twenty years. Even if your heater seems to run perfectly, consider replacing it if it’s more than a decade old, as no heater is designed with more years in mind, and it may suddenly break down.

The most common issue with tank heaters is a leaking tank, but how do you prevent something like that? It turns out that you can, to a large extent.

By flushing the tank to drain sediments, and by checking the anode rod annually, you ensure the inside of your heater is rust-free and safe from damage caused by sediment.

When it comes to tankless heaters, depleting them regularly due to overuse may cause damage to the interior lining and make them deteriorate faster, reducing their water heater life span.

Increasing your Water Heater Life Span

As seen above, you can extend your water heater life span by proper maintenance and prudent use. Let’s see some important details below:

Pressure Relief

The pressure relief valve will reduce pressure in a tank heater to prevent mechanical damage from high pressure. A stuck valve can lead to leaks, and in dramatic cases even heater explosions!

The pressure relief valve is typically on top of your water heater and opens automatically when pressure reaches a certain threshold. To check it, just place a bucket below and slowly open it to test if it’s working. It’s best to do so when the heater is full but NOT working, so the water is cold.

Replacing the pressure relief valve is easy as most models allow you to just unscrew the old one and screw back the replacement. Note that if you’ve never tested your valve and your heater is several years old, you may cause it to leak after testing it. Replace immediately if that happens.

Draining the Tank

In order to drain the tank, first turn off the heat. Electric heaters will just have an ‘off’ button, while gas heaters might have a dial that goes down to ‘0’.

Then, shut the valve that feeds the water heater and then turn on the hot water (any faucet will do) to drain the water inside the tank. Leave this faucet on for as long as you want your tank to remain empty.

Again, it’s best to wait several hours from turning off the heat to draining your heater, to allow the water to cool down.

Flushing out Sediment

The bottom of your tank might collect sediment as the years go by. Sediment buildup will deteriorate your tank faster while reducing its efficiency (you’ll be heating useless sediment instead of actual water.)

You don’t have to empty your tank to remove sediment. A few gallons from the bottom will do. Just keep emptying until you see the water come out clear. If sediment is left in the tank for too long, it can solidify and become impossible to remove.

Signs and symptoms that it’s time to replace your heater

Obviously, if your heater is leaking, it’s a clear sign that’s something is going wrong! Leaky heaters almost always need replacement, but a professional plumber might be able to repair it if the issue is localized, and especially if it’s the pressure valve.

Apart from leaking, there are several other signs and symptoms that will tell you if your heater is malfunctioning or if it’s getting closer to the end of its life. These symptoms include:

  • Red, yellow or rusty water: This indicates that your heater has rusted internally, but may be also caused if piping is rusty. To make sure it’s not your heater, drain it ASAP as indicated above and see what’s going on.
  • Lower water temperature: If water feels colder even if the temperature settings haven’t changed, then your heater might be malfunctioning. Shut it down and call an expert.
  • Rumbling, banging and other weird noises: Unusual noises can mean sediment buildup or other nasty problems. If you get this problem early, you may get away with just flushing sediment, but if you ignore rumbling noises, you may have to replace your heater sooner than you expect.

Hot water the smart way

In today’s interconnected world, water heaters are just one of many elements that make a modern house efficient and pleasant to live in. If you seek a comprehensive way to manage your home and all utilities, you should consider an efficient and cost-effective smart home bundle solution that will give automate your home the smart way and give you peace of mind.

Smart home bundles can cover everything from heating and cooling protection, to smoke detectors and smart locks, to proper annual maintenance that will maximize your water heater life span. Contact us today to find out how the leaders in smart home solutions in Canada can help you!