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Home » How Long Should a Water Heater Last? This Is What You Need to Know

How Long Should a Water Heater Last? This Is What You Need to Know


How Long Should a Water Heater Last

When a water heater fails you could be in for an unpleasant surprise. No one likes to take cold showers. Keep your hot water flowing by keeping track of the age of your water heater.

New water heaters use less energy and could help lower your energy bill. Read this guide to learn How long should a water heater last.

How Long Should a Water Heater Last?

The traditional tank-type water heater should last approximately 10 years. A traditional tank water heater has an anode rode inside it that protects the water heating equipment by attracting corrosive particles. This process is called electrolysis.

When the rod has corroded and can no longer perform its job these particles tend to settle at the bottom of your water heater. The particles will eventually begin to destroy the lining of the tank. Once corrosion has begun inside the tank your water heater is life expectancy is short.

A newer tankless system can last up to 20 years or longer. These type of heaters are often called on-demand water heaters. A tankless water heater does less work because it doesn’t have to continuously maintain a supply of hot water.

Eventually, these tankless systems will also suffer from corrosion and will also need to be replaced but they have a much longer water heater life.

How Old is My Water Heater?

If you can’t track down the receipt for your water heating equipment take a look at your water heater’s serial number to figure out its age. The serial number consists of a letter followed by numbers. It should be located on the top part of your water heater.

The letter usually stands for the month it was manufactured in. A stands for January, B stands for February, and so on. The next two numbers will tell you the year it was made. For example, a water heater serial number that reads “A13” was made in January of 2013.

Confirm with your water heaters manufacturer if you have any doubts about the date. You can reach most manufacturers online or via their hotline.

Signs of Water Heater Failure

When your water heater begins to enter the last few years of its lifespan you should start shopping around and saving to buy new water heating equipment. Here are some of the signs you should look for to determine if your heating equipment needs to be replaced.

Performance Issues

If it seems like you are always running out of hot water this can be a sign that your water heater needs to be replaced. If the temperature of your water is inconsistent or your water heater takes a long to recover these are both signs it probably needs to be replaced.


If your water heater is leaking from the pressure release valve then you should be fine. Sometimes a water heater will release a little bit of water from the valve to help regulate the pressure in the tank. However, if your tank is leaking from anywhere else this is a sign that it needs to be replaced.


Water heaters are designed to prevent corrosion for several years. When you begin to see corrosion on your water heater it is not a good sign. Over time corrosion eats away the lining and foundation of your tank. It may also be accompanied by a light odor or discolored water that pools at the bottom of your tank.

These signs all indicators that something is wrong with your water heater. Oftentimes, these signs go unnoticed until it is too late. Proper water heater maintenance by a professional water heater service can help protect your water heating equipment and increase its lifespan.

Things That Affect Your Water Heater Lifespan

Different things can affect the question of how long do water heaters last. Hard water can reduce the lifespan of your water heater by up to two years.

If your water heater is located in the garage or crawl space where temperatures drop they will have to work twice as hard to heat your water. Keep your water heater in a temperature-controlled part of your home to prevent it from wearing out sooner.

If you have hard water and/or your water heater is located in the garage you may want to consider looking for a water heater much sooner than the typical 10 year period of time. Pay attention to any of the above signs so you can tell if your water heater is giving out before it happens.

Plan Ahead

When a traditional water heater approaches eight years or a tankless system reaches fifteen years it’s time to start thinking about replacement. Replacing your water heater ahead of time will avoid the surprise of it breaking.

It’s inconvenient not to have hot water when you need it so keep an eye on the date and replace your water heater on time. An older water heater will have a build-up of sediment after many years of use.

This sediment often requires more power to heat your water and will decrease your water heaters’ efficiency.

After installing a new water heater will increase your water heater’s efficiency and will lower your energy bill. New technology in water heaters has helped make them more energy-efficient than your older model too.

How long do hot water heaters last really depends on your model, your water, and where you keep your tank.

Avoid the Surprise of a Cold Shower

Now that you know how long your water heating equipment should last. Go ahead and find your receipt for your water heater or check out the serial number to see when your equipment was manufactured.

Look for the warning signs that tell you when it is time to replace your water heating equipment and plan ahead so you won’t be surprised.

If your water heating unit isn’t functioning properly or it is time to replace your old water heater, contact Suburban Plumbing. We can help schedule an appointment to service your water heater or install a new one today.

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