A water heater is one of the most important functioning units in a home. Because it is connected to so many aspects of daily life, if it stops working, it can make life stressful. After all, nobody wants to take a cold shower! Whether you are looking to repair or replace a water heater, the question is always out there: how long are water heaters built to last? The answer is dependent upon several factors.
Traditional tank water heaters can be expected to perform at their optimum levels for up to 12 years if the unit has been properly maintained. Newer, efficient tankless water heaters may last even longer- up to 20 years. Tankless water heaters only collect and heat water when on demand, so there is less chance for standing water to damage the unit.
What water heater maintenance and repairs can I do myself?
With age, any water heater will eventually deteriorate. While regular cleaning and maintenance can extend the life of your water heater, the thin, protective lining that most water tanks are equipped with erodes after years of use.
However, there are measures to take to care for your water heater.
- Inspect the anode rod. The anode rod is a long piece of metal that is screwed into the top of your water tank. If the rod has rusted, it is no longer good to use and should be replaced. Replacing the anode rod before it becomes a problem is one major way to add time to the life of your water heater.
- Remove limescale. With a solvent of undiluted vinegar, it isn’t a difficult task to flush out the limescale deposits through the top opening of your tank. Methods vary depending on what type of water tank.
- Flush out the tank. Take 2 to 3 gallons of water and run it through the tank until the sediment is gone and the water runs clear. If the water continues to be tinted or contains rust, your tank needs to be replaced.
How will I know it’s time to replace my water heater?
Regardless of type, over time nearly all water heaters will begin to corrode or collect sediment and need to be replaced. There are a number of signs to look for:
- Water is leaking from the tank. If you have a leak, it needs to be fixed quickly in order to prevent water damage.
- Your water won’t heat or the running temperature is inconsistent.
- Low water pressure. At times, the water pressure may be affected due to a lack of available water in your tank either due to a leak or a build up of sediment.
- Your water heater is making unusual noises. All clunks and thumps should be reported to a professional for inspection.
- You experience discolored or odored water.
Most homeowners would not be able to decipher between a water heater that needs repair or one that needs to be replaced. This is a good time to consult with a professional plumber.
How to plan for a replacement water heater
According to Consumer Reports, the cost of heating water consumes almost 20 percent of your household budget, second only to what you spend on heating and cooling your home. A new water heater is an investment that with proper maintenance should, as mentioned above, last 8 to 12 years, or more. Selecting the right water heater will depend on water usage, budget, the climate you live in and the space available for installation.
Gas and electric tank water heaters may cost less to install up front but have a shorter lifespan, while tankless water heaters are more expensive to install but can last decades. Heat pump or hybrid water heaters may also be more expensive up front, but they are quite efficient and use up to 60% less water than traditional water heaters. Yet, heat pumps need to be installed in warmer temperatures and wouldn’t fare well in a place where the temperature regularly drops below 40 degrees. Similarly, solar heat might be an option for those looking to save energy, but this type of water heater is roof-mounted and best suited for warm climates.
Each solution provides different pros and cons, but all are reliable choices.
Professional water heater maintenance in the New Orleans and Metairie areas
Is your water heater aging or leaking water? Have you noticed your hot water temperature isn’t as hot as it used to be? Is it time for a system cleaning? If you are having problems with your water heater, need it serviced, or are interested in replacement options, give Bienvenu Brothers a call to schedule a consultation. You can reach our friendly team at (504) 835-7783.