We’re in a new year and with it come new questions. But water heaters are pretty much the same. Have there been advances in technology over the years? Sure! Have we learned more about water heater maintenance since Edwin Ruud invented the first water heater in 1889? Definitely. But when it comes to the central question, How long do water heaters last? there’s not some new silver bullet in 2021 that didn’t exist in 2020. Guess what though… You don’t need one. Because a couple of little tricks will add years to your water heater’s life. And they’re very simple!
The two big factors that will determine your water heaters lifespan are water quality and yearly maintenance.
How Long Will My Hot Water Heater Last?
Homeowners can extend the life of their water heaters by following a few simple tips. But first… Does the type of water heater significantly affect how long of a lifespan it will have?
Electric vs. Gas
The answer shouldn’t actually be very different whether you own a gas or electric water heater. They tend to last relatively the same amount of time. .
Conventional vs. Tankless
You actually can expect somewhat different lifespans between conventional and tankless, with conventional units lasting 8-12 years, and tankless closer to 20. There are also some definite advantages to tankless heaters and hybrid heat pumps along the lines of efficiency benefits and operational costs.
The 2 Keys to How Long Your Water Heater Lasts Are…
So what does this look like? Honestly, it’s pretty simple. All you have to do once a year is flush your tank. Plumbing One’s owner Donn Ogilvie tells customers it’s really that simple. “If you’re willing to flush your tank once a year, it will last much longer.” As we mention in 5 DIY Steps to Prep Your Home For Spring, March or April is a great time to do this. As far as the logistics of how to flush your water heater, here’s a quick and easy step-by-step tutorial.
Note: The Rheem representative in this video suggests flushing every six months or more. This won’t hurt, but in our experience, starting at twelve month intervals will work just fine for our customers in Columbus, Ohio.
If you’re willing to flush your tank once a year, it will last much longer.— Donn Ogilvie, Owner of Plumbing One
The second major factor in determining how long your water heater will last is the quality of water in your municipality. The quality of your city’s water will actually have an effect on the lifespan of all your appliances. And a bad connection to that supply can even cause low water pressure in your house.
Bottom line: water that contains calcium is corrosive. It will slowly destroy your hot water tank, so it’s important to make sure your water is clean or treated. So what can you do to find out if you have calcium in your water?
*General tip: If you see white residue, that means you have calcium building up in your water. This can be treated with a filter.
The surefire way to check is to get a water analysis done. You can have professionals perform the analysis, or try to test it yourself. Hach offers a variety of calcium analysis tools to help you measure the hardness of your home’s water supply.
Bonus Perk: Calcium treatment will not only help your water heater last longer but all of your other appliances too!
How Long Do Water Heaters Last?
It really and truly depends on you! A yearly tank flush and verifying that your water is non-corrosive will help you enjoy your hot water heater for many years.
If you suspect you have a real problem, look at our list of water heater problem signs. These will help you diagnose the issue and determine the next step.