When To Replace My Water Heater? How Long Does It Will Last? Reasons Why Water Heaters Fail.

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.

  • How they are powered: The lifespan of water heaters depends chiefly on how they are powered. Natural gas water heaters are environmentally friendly and economical but aren’t quite durable. They will only last for not more than 12 years. As for the electric water heaters, they are a bit costly but last more with minimal care and maintenance.
  • Tanked or tankless water heater: Tanked water heaters provide enough water on demand. They store enough water for bigger families. However, they cannot last for more than ten years. As for the tankless water heaters, they supply limited hot water on demand. The good news is that they are more efficient and durable.
  • Type of water: The durability of water heaters is also affected by the kind of water they heat. Units that heat hard water are less likely to last for long since the scale, and sediment buildup will heat the unit’s interior shortening their lifespan. Water heaters installed in areas that receive soft water won’t have to deal with such issues, and so their useful life may be higher.
  • Where the heater is installed: If your water heater is installed in crawlspace or garage, it has to do more work to release hot water at the required pressure and temperature. The more these units work, the quicker they wear out. As well, the harsh weathers these units are exposed to speed up the wear and tear. As for the units installed in temperature-controlled areas, they don’t face such issues, and so they last longer.
  • The maintenance work: the durability of any water heater is also dependent on the kind of care and maintenance it receives. Water heaters that receive quality and routine care and maintenance end up lasting longer. That’s because issues are addressed before they grow bigger to cause bigger problems on the overall water heater’s durability. Water heaters that don’t get quality care and maintenance will not last long. That’s because when some issues are left unattended for long, they will cripple the overall performance and efficiency of the water heater, which could also affect its life expectancy.

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.

  1. The buildup of sediments: Water chemicals and minerals leave deposits to build up around the walls and at the bottom of the water heater tank. The accumulation of these sediments causes corrosion and rusting inside your water heater tanks, which could result in leaks and system failures. Descaling your water heater often is the ultimate solution to prevent the scales and sediments from causing more problems. On the same note, remember to replace the anode rod at least once every 6 years.
  2. System Over-pressurization: When the hot water flows at a pressure higher than the one specified in the manual, your water heater will fail sooner than expected. The most common reason for over pressurization is the higher water pressure at the entrance or higher heating output. You are strongly advised to set your water heater so it can heat water at a temperature between 120 to 140 degrees Celsius. Also, set the inlet valve such that it allows the specified water flow.


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.