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How long does a water heater last?

A standard water heater should last 8-12 years. If your water tank is older than 12 years, you are advised to replace it because the tank’s lasting capacity decreases over time. Tankless water heaters can last more than 20 years – with regular water heater maintenance. Additionally a tankless water heater has parts that are easily replaceable parts which may extend their life.

If you’re not sure whether it’s time for a water heater replacement, consult a professional plumber to get an accurate assessment. Water heaters can be expensive, but they offer a lot of convenience and comfort to people at home.

How to Extend the Life of Your Water Heater

So, you’re looking to save money on your utility bill but still want to enjoy showers that are nice and hot? We all do right? You can do this by following some pretty simple steps.

  1. Check the insulation around your water tank so it doesn’t lose energy while sitting idle throughout the day. If it’s exposed, it may be a good idea to invest in a cover.
  2. Turn your hot water heater down! Heating water is one of the most expensive things you can do when it comes to home energy costs. Allotting the temperature at 120 degrees will still get you clean and happy, but not breaking the bank in the process.
  3. If you’re not using hot-water throughout the day, consider installing an on/off-timer. It will shut off your water heater once it reaches a certain temperature. Although this may cause some minor discomfort in the shower, if you are not turning on your hot water anyways, you’ll barely notice it!
  4. Make sure your hot water pipes are well insulated. If they’re not, they will lose heat and the water tank will have to work harder to bring the temperature up again.
  5. Make sure you are cleaning your water tank regularly! This means descaling it every 6-12 months as lime and scale deposits can build up over time and decrease the efficiency of your unit.

Why Do Water Heaters Fail?

There are a number of reasons why water heaters fail, but the most common reason is a lack of regular maintenance. If your water tank isn’t properly taken care of, it will eventually break down. Other reasons for water heater maintenance failure include:

  • Corrosion
  • Sediment build-up
  • Water contamination
  • Power surges

One of the most common signs that your water heater is going to fail soon is a leaking faucet. If you have a leak coming from your hot water tap, this means you’re losing two to three gallons of hot water per day. If you notice any leaks under your water heater, call an expert water tank professional immediately, especially if you own an electric water heater.

Warning Signs of a Failing Water Heater

A failing water heater can cause all sorts of problems, from a lack of hot water to extensive damage to your home. There are several warning signs that your water heater may be starting to fail. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to call a professional for a new hot water heater, or to have your water heater serviced.

  1. Your water is not hot enough – Cold showers usually means the heating elements are failing.
  2. Your hot water smells like rotten eggs or sulfur – Often caused by the buildup of sediment and mineral deposits inside your tank.
  3. Your water heater is very old – Water heaters more than 10 years old are more likely to fail.
  4. You notice leaks near your water heater – Especially if the leak seems to be coming from the bottom of the unit or where the gas connects.
  5. Your water heater is making strange noises – This could be caused by anode rod rust, failing heater element and/or sediment buildup.

If you notice any of these warning signs, it’s important to call a professional water tank plumber to buy a new water heater or to have your water heater serviced. Failing water heaters can cause all sorts of problems, from a lack of hot water to extensive damage to your home.

How to Determine the Age of a Water Heater

A water heater’s serial number is usually located in the unit’s upper right corner, directly under the hot-water tank’s control knob. To read this serial number, you would need to remove part of the side panel covering the heating element.

There are several ways to determine how old a particular water heater is:

  1. Determine the age of the unit using the manufacturer’s serial number . Manufacturers date-stamp their water heaters with a four-digit manufacturer code and a six-digit production code. The first two digits of the production code are the year of manufacture, and the last four digits are the Julian date (day of the year). For example, a water heater with the serial number 01-2345678 would have been manufactured on January 23, 2004.
  2. Look up the age of a water heater using the manufacturing company’s website .
  3. Use a magnet to determine how old it is . Older steel heaters will attract the magnet; newer ones generally will not.
  4. Check the insulation . The thickness of the insulation can help you determine how old the water heater is. Older units will have less insulation.

While none of these methods are perfect, they can give you a general idea of how old your water heater is and when it might need to be replaced. If you live in the Sacramento area, schedule a free water tank inspection with Sacramento Plumbing Solutions to find out if you need a new water heater, to get a free estimate, or to see if your water heater can be repaired, serviced or needs to be replaced.

A professional plumber can help you with the following services and more:

  • Water heater repair
  • Replacement pressure relief valve
  • New tank water heaters/water heater tank repair
  • Tankless water heater installation
  • Cold water control
  • Maintenance your tank style water heater
  • Drain valve inspection
  • Annual inspections for hot water heaters
Mike Grijalva

Mike Grijalva

Owner & Lead Plumber

I’ve been a journeyman plumber for over 15 years and opened my own plumbing company in 2011. I’m highly qualified and offer the best prices in the Sacramento area. I’ve done plumbing in every aspect possible, inlcluding new construction, service and repair, commercial, sprinkler service, and custom homes. I take great pride in my work.  You can feel comfortable trusting someone highly skilled with integrity for all your plumbing needs.

CSLB License #963048

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