How Long Does A Water Heater Last? Reasons Why Heaters Fail.

by Curtis Grossi | Last Updated: March 19, 2024
Water Heater Average Life

The predicted useful life of most water heaters is approximately 10 to 20 years. However, factors such as care and maintenance, frequency of use, and product manufacturer usually affect a tankless water heater’s actual lifespan.

One of the things every home owner worries about most is the service life they will get from their new water heater. Whatever budget or plans you’ve, we are going to give you all the facts that you need to understand on the lifespan of these systems.

When Should I Replace My Water Heater?

Giving your water heater thorough care and maintenance supplements its life expectancy. Replacing the damaged pressure-relief valves, heating elements, and anode rod may seem unworthy.

But when you consider how much is a hot water tank, replacing the worn-out parts becomes the best thing to do, especially if you’re on a budget. So, make sure to check on the condition of the key components of the tank respond accordingly. This will save you the expenses that come with a water heater replacement.

However, in instances when your tank has a leak that can’t be repaired or has lived for more than ¾ of its lifespan, you should consider getting a new unit.

Replacing your old tank water heater comes with the benefit of increased energy and cost savings. Hot water tank problems come as the unit age. The older the tank, the more inefficient its critical components parts will be. Consequently, the more they work to heat and dispense water at the required temperatures.

In fewer words, if the unit is old, it uses more energy to output hot water at the desired rates and temperatures, which translates to higher energy bills.

4 Signs Your Water Heater Is About to Fail

Potential hot water unit problems come out earlier in the form of signs that could be understood only by concerned homeowners. Most of us have come across many water heating system issues and only disregarded them as nothing.

It only comes to our surprise that those were the signs of imminent water heater failures. These are the four main signs of a water heater that’s about to fail.

1. Old Age

Just like every other energy-powered machine, water heaters become less efficient as they age. Aged water heating devices are prone to unforeseen faults that could end their lives abruptly. In case your water tank starts misbehaving, check its age by looking at the serial number found on the manufacturer’s sticker. You can find virtually all the information about the heater’s manufacturing date and its expected lifespan.

So, how long do water heaters last? Well, tank water heaters have a predicted lifespan of about 12 years while tankless water heaters can last for up to 20 years. If your tanked water heater has served you for over ten years, you should consider replacing it.

Also, if your tankless water heater has lived for more than 15 years, make sure to get a new one. Some water heater brands are durable and robust enough to last for exact or more than the predicted lifespan, so it will be wise you only replace your water heater once it starts misbehaving and failing unexpectedly.

2. Water Discoloration

When new, these systems dispense clean and color-free hot water. If you see rusty or colored hot water, it means that your water heater needs to be checked for rust on the inside. The rusting could be from the cold water piping, too. So, if your tank has a galvanized interior, you may have to check your cold water pipes.

The best way to tell where the rust is coming from is to drain about 6 gallons of hot water continuously. If by the fifth gallon the water is still colored, it’s an indication that your water heater interior is rusting. If not, it may mean that the pipes are rusting and you may need to replace them, instead.

3. Water Leaks

Moisture formation around a water heater signifies a small fracture or a leak in the water heater tank. The heating of the metal causes expansion, which opens up fractures on the tank to allow a small leak that could progressively get bigger. If not taken care of as soon as it appears, a small leak could end up being a complex and expensive repair.

Even worse, it may never help bring your water heater to its original functioning state. Therefore, your water heater needs urgent check-up as soon as you discover the slightest leak.

These leaks could also come from the tank connectors, fittings, or the pressure/temperature overflow pipes. So before you replace the entire unit, check these areas too to ensure the leaks aren’t coming from any of them.

4. Rumbling And Noise

Water heaters are designed to operate smoothly and silently. Any form of noise or rumbling from your water tank may signify a problem. Some problems like the buildup of sediments and scales can be solved through descaling.

However, problems triggered by old age may be impossible to handle, and the need to get a new water heater. It’s advisable to determine the exact cause of the noise and rumbling coming from your machine before making any decision. That will make it possible for you to avoid replacing a fully functional water heater that could serve for several other years before it breaks down.

How Long Does A Hot Water System Last?

Today’s water heaters are a bit more advanced in design and functionality. However, they need regular care and maintenance to last for the expected life span.

According to experts, with proper care, maintenance, flushing and draining a gas water heater will last anywhere from 8 to 12 years while an electric water heater will last for 10 to 15 years. So for those who have been wondering how long does a 50-gallon water heater last, you’ve got an idea on when you should prepare to replace your heater.

Factors That Affect The Lifespan Of A Water Heater

The lifespan of a water heater can be affected by various things. These are the factors affecting the lifespan of a water heater.

Reasons Why Water Heaters Fail

Various reasons can trigger the sudden failure of a healthy water heater. Outlined here are the two main reasons why most water heaters fail.


If you’ve always wanted to know how long your water heater will last, you’ve got a much clear picture now, of when you should budget for a new unit. Check out our article to understand the factors affecting the lifespan of a water heater, the reasons why water heaters fail as well as how long different types of water heaters can last, depending on the kind of water they heat.

Curtis is the founder and owner of He is the lead guy concerning all the water-softening accessories in this site's guides and reviews. If he is not writing a reviews, guides or any other useful tips, you will find him testing them to find out their suitability. He is passionate about softening water. You will find him extremely helpful and always willing to educate the general populace all there is concerning water and its effects on their health and appliances.