The Life Span of Water Heaters

The water heating system is very essential for those who are living in places that have seasonal cold weathers. And because it is already a basic requirement or necessity at home, it is most likely taken for granted and pushed beyond its limited life span. Knowing when it would last will not only prevent you from taking icy showers, but will also help you save money.

The Life Span of Water Heaters

How Do Water Heaters Work?

The conventional electric and gas-fired tank-style water heaters are cylindrical appliances which warm and store a certain amount of water, usually 40 to 80 gallons. According to the US Department of Energy, their expected life span is approximately 10 to 15 years. However, it is important to note that the life span depends upon the water source, maintenance, and other factors. Tank-less water heaters, on the other hand, are different from the tank-style heaters since it does not store water. Instead, it has a series of pipes which are entirely surrounded with heating equipment. This types of water heaters are often more costly than the conventional ones; however, they can last up to approximately 30 years.

The Life Span of Water Heaters

Time Frame

During the entire lifetime of a water heater, the minerals that are being dissolved into the water source will collect on one portion of the tank which can gradually damage the tank over time. Minerals, such as calcium and lime, actually react when they are heated and bound to the inside portion of the tank. Hard water, that contains high levels of calcium and lime, will reduce the life span of water heaters by more than 2 years. In addition, other sources of water, such as springs and wells, may pull up the sediments and deposit sand and mud from the water into the water heater; thereby, reducing its effectiveness more quickly than that of the minerals. It is important to note that water heaters that are using hard water or well water should be drained or flushed at least once a year to prolong the life of the tank.

The Life Span of Water Heaters

Anode Rods

Most tank-style water heaters make use of anode rods that are made up of aluminum, magnesium or zinc alloy. These anode rods extend down to the tank cavity and attract highly corrosive elements in the water; thereby preventing these elements from damaging the tank. Note that if you are using hard water, it is highly recommended that you should replace the anode rod of the tank every 5 years. Its replacement is actually easy that you can do it on your own; you only have to partially drain the tank, unscrew the anode rod, and pull it out. However if there is only little overhead space, you may just have to cut the rod as you remove it and replace it with collapsible ones which are made up of loosely linked portions. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to learn more about how to replace the rods. Note that its replacement may actually void the warranty.

The Life Span of Water Heaters


The size of water heaters may affect its life span. Water heaters that are too small for the entire household may constantly heat large amounts of water which may damage the lining of the water heater; thereby, wearing out the heating elements quicker, causing several electrical problems. Thus, they need to be replaced earlier than average. Meanwhile, water heaters that are too large may waste energy because it keeps a large volume of water to be heated at all times even though there aren’t any demands for it.

Benefits of Water Heaters

No matter what type of water heater you use, maintaining it regularly will prolong its life span. Consulting heating and plumbing specialists will help you detect potential problems, recommend necessary filtration systems, as well as take measures as to the prevention of premature breakdown of water heaters. Its manufacturer may specify requirements for regular maintenance; thus, you may have to consult their manual before you call the plumber.

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