How Long Does a Hot Water Heater Last?

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If you’ve lived with your water heater for years, these questions must have crossed your mind. Maybe you’re worried about how much time is left before your hot water supply is cut. 

Generally, a home water heater can live about 6 to 13 years. The moment it exceeds 12 years, it means your heater’s life is almost over.

Let’s discuss further everything you need to know about your water heater’s life. Continue to read for more details.

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How Do You Know When to Replace a Hot Water Heater?

Like most things, you can replace your home water heater. However, you must know when to maintain and when to replace it. If you find leaks at the base of your heater, you should replace it.

You don’t need to replace your water heater if you get cold water. This can be caused by a tripped breaker or a blown fuse. The solution is to ensure your water heater gets power and reset your thermostat.

What Are the Signs That Your Hot Water Heater Is Going Out?

  • Your water heater is getting old. As we mentioned, the average life period of a heater is about 6-13 years. If you see strange color in your water, there is a high probability of rust in your heater, which is a significant sign that your heater is aging.
  • Loud noises or pop sounds. As your heater ages, there are more evident rumbling noises as a tank heats up. The causes of this noise might be sediment buildup over the years as your heater heats and reheat your water.
  • The water heater is leaking. When you start seeing water build up around your tank, there is a high chance your tank’s life is almost over. The primary cause of leakage is the expansion of metals in your tank. Other causes might be wrong fittings of your tank or the pressure or temperature overflow in your pipe.

The leakage risks are mainly ruining carpeting, mold on floors and walls, and destroying stuff like antiques, furniture, books, etc.

  • The water is not heating. Hot water in a home is essential, from showering to washing dishes. So if you notice you don’t have hot water, you know your tank is aging.

Maladjustment causes this problem in your thermostat, a tank too small for your house size, or a faulty heating element.

Related: Heat Pump Water Heater Vs. Tankless Water Heater

What Is the Most Common Problem With a Gas Hot Water Heater?

The water temperature is the main problem in a gas hot water heater. There are a few occurrences that bring up water temperature problems, and they include;

  • Thermostat.  You might need to adjust your thermostat regularly to cumber this issue.
  • Not flushing. Gas water heater must be flushed regularly to remove clogged sediments in the tank that block the heater element by creating insulation between the water and the element.
  • Damaged water heater dip. If this tube does not direct cold water to the bottom of the tank to be heated but releases it to the top, the water will mix, causing low water temperature.
  • Pilot light and gas line. If the pilot light is switched on, it’s supposed to help heat the water. If the water doesn’t get heated, you should call a professional to repair your thermocouple.

What Is the Most Common Problem With a Gas Hot Water Heater?

Do Hot Water Heaters Need Maintenance?

Yes, they do, considering it’s one of the essential pieces of equipment in your house. Water heaters require regular maintenance, as you will see below. 

What Maintenace Do Hot Water Heaters Require?

These can be inspections done annually by you or a professional.

  • Testing pressure relief of the valve. Every water heater has a pressure relief valve that ensures water drains in case of extreme pressure levels. Testing is generally done by lifting the tab on your valve and then releasing the tab. The water should flow when the tab is up and stop when the tab is down.
  • Inspecting the anode rod. Usually, an anode is supposed to protect your tank’s inner lining. This anode is made of steel with aluminum and zinc. You inspect the anode to ensure you don’t end up with leakage. To examine, you need to drain the water, loosen the hex head, then check the thickness of the rod. 
  • Flushing your water heater and removing sediment. Sediment buildup damages your water tank and clogs the water lines. To avoid this problem, you must wash your tank every six months for hard water or yearly for soft water.

How Often Should Hot Water Heater Be Serviced?

Servicing your water heaters doesn’t have a law on the duration you should wait for maintenance.

In most cases, experts advise the maintenance to be regular for inspections to ensure your heater remains safe and efficient.

How Often Should Hot Water Heater Be Serviced?

You can check for any corrosion on your plumbing joint every two months. For a gas water heater, check to see if there are no flammable products near it.

Also, drain your heater every 5 years to eliminate any tank sediment. The anode rod should be replaced every 2 to 3 years and at least have it done by a professional.

How Do You Flush Sediment Out of a Hot Water Heater?

The process is inexpensive and straightforward, so you can do it yourself.

Shut Off Your Gas

You turn it off through a circuit breaker. Shutting off ensures your water heater tank is not receiving gas, so it won’t heat up and leak. This also prevents any fire accidents from occurring.

Open the Hot Water Faucet

This is mainly to trick your heater system into that it’s still running. Water will come out but won’t be heated. It also prevents vacuum from forming in the pipes, leading to unwanted bubbles in the water system.

Turn Off Your Cold Water Valve

This valve is located near the heater unit towards the top. In most cases, it looks like a valve faucet colored blue to symbolize cold water. Turning the valve off prevents the water from getting into the tank, avoiding messy work.

Connect the Hose Pipe to the Heater Tank

Locate your spigot at the bottom of your tank; it looks like a faucet. Use a garden hose so it can screw perfectly into the spigot. If your tank is on top, gravity should assist with the process and if it’s at the bottom, use a pump. Also, ensure a place where the water is moving to avoid spillage.

Drain the Tank

Drain the water by turning your spigot. If the water coming out is clear, it means your heater is in perfect condition, but if the water is darker and has sediments, it needs some attention.

Flush Your System

After all the water is out, begin to flush the tank. Turn back on the spigot so new water flushes the tank. Flush the tank for some minutes until the water looks clear, which means the tank is well flushed. Don’t forget to turn off the cold water supply before you can take away the hose and bucket.

Reactivate the Power and Gas

Turn off the drain the hose was connected to and close the hot water faucet. Turn on the cold water supply allowing water to fill the tank. Open the pressure valve for air to escape so the heater can operate.

Open the hot water faucet, let the excess hot air escape, and turn back on the gas water going to the tank. Give the process at least 30 minutes before you test if the system is back to bringing in hot water.

How Do You Flush Sediment Out of a Hot Water Heater?

Although it’s okay to do it yourself, experts advise hiring a professional plumber since they’ll know what to take care of specifically. Also, they have more skills to ensure the tank is completely drained off and refilling is correctly done.

What Happens if You Don’t Flush Your Water Heater?

We’ve mentioned above the residue that builds up in your tank, but we’ve not said how it happens in detail. Hard water is found in areas with high levels of limestone. They have higher levels of magnesium and calcium in the water. These minerals and sediments found in hard water fill up your heater tank and are likely to cause.

What Happens if You Don’t Flush Your Water Heater?

  • Buildup in the tank hence damaging it.
  • Uneven water heating, which causes leakage.
  • The build-up that damage the lower heating element.
  • Blockage of the drain valve.
  • Low capacity of your tank.

How Much Does It Cost to Flush a Water Heater?

The answer to cost will depend on your location, your heater type, and the plumber. However, generally the standard cost range between $80 and $100. This cost can rise, however, if the plumber discovers more pressing issues with your heater tank.

Final Verdict

The life of your water heater is mainly determined by the care you provide. Because although the standard age is 6 and 13 years, you can prolong this time if you stick to regular and professional services.

Also, if you aren’t sure how to inspect your water heater, always call a professional plumber who won’t mess up anything delicate that can cost you a replacement even when there is no need.

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