You want to ensure you get your money’s worth from purchasing a water heater. So finding the model with the most extended lifespan is high on your list of considerations. 

You could locate a water heater that lasts for twenty years. But can we expect a new water heater to last 20 years? Answer that question by deciding whether a tankless water heater best suits your needs.

The average lifespan of a tankless water heater is 20 years. Conventional water heaters that use storage tanks typically last between 10 and 15 years before they start to show their age. 

This post will answer the question, “Can a Hot Water Heater Last 20 Years?” and provide expert recommendations to care for your water heater.

Can a Hot Water Heater Last 20 Years?

If you maintain it properly, your water heater will serve you well for many years. It’s important to recognize when it’s time to upgrade. Thus, you must understand how to relight the pilot on your stove or flush your water heater.

However, only some are confident in working on their water heater. You should get in touch with a plumber who specializes in water heater maintenance.

You should be familiar with the pressure release valve on your water heater. The relief valve on a water heater will release pressure if it gets too high.

If this mechanism fails, the pressure in your tank could eventually cause an explosion. For this reason, it’s essential to know how to empty a water heater.

Wear safety gear whenever you need to work on your water heater. Wear protective equipment, including gloves, goggles, and thick clothing to shield you from burns, are just a few examples.

Switch off the electricity and gas before putting out the pilot light. You should also turn off the cold water supply entering your home.

How Should You Flush a Water Heater

Slowly, sediment will diminish your water heater’s efficiency. It can lead to water pipe blockages. When you inspect the water heater’s pressure release valve, you should also clean the tank.

Attach the hose to the tank’s drain valve and direct the water flow to a safe area. To thoroughly empty the tank, you must first release the pressure by opening the relief valve.

Can a Hot Water Heater Last 20 Years?

Turn off the water supply by closing the relief and drain valves. Put hot water from the fixtures to the vent in the cold water supply. 

Warning: If you notice hot water dripping from the taps, it’s time to shut them off. It’s safe to switch on the power and heat now.

Ignite the Pilot

To relight the pilot, move the gas knob to the “On” position and the “Pilot” setting on the control knob. When your water heater turns on, a light should flash. If you look at the tiny flame through the glass, you’ll know you’ve successfully lighted the pilot. Now, bring it up to a comfortable 120 degrees.

If you need further information on how to ignite your pilot, check the manufacturer’s instructions. The pilot light of a more modern water heater may be small and difficult to spot. 

Turn off the lights and check the pilot flame through the view glass if this is the case. Condensation may form on your water heater when you initially turn it on. Once the water heater becomes hot, the condensation should evaporate.

What Are the Warning Signs Your Water Heater May Be Failing or Requiring Major Repair?

Water heaters typically operate well before suddenly breaking down. However, warning indications usually indicate when a water heater repair is necessary. Potential water heater failure signs include:

1. Corrosion

A failing water heater will corrode. Whether on the water lines or the unit itself, it indicates wear and tear that might weaken the system and contribute to the water heater breaking down.

2. Water Leaks

Water leaking from your water heater’s seams, joints, or seals indicates a problem (perhaps caused by corrosion, as noted above). Usually, water heaters function as a “closed” system. 

Therefore the presence of moisture outside of it indicates a malfunction. A water heater leak can worsen over time, threatening the appliance and nearby structures and contents.

3. Your Water Has Rust

The water heating system’s interior fails when there is rust in the water.

4. Insufficient Hot Water

Due to age or lack of maintenance, sediment buildup inside the tank might diminish storage capacity. Water might contain chemicals and minerals that might accelerate corrosion and tank deterioration. 

When silt and particles accumulate, the amount of water your home can heat and use decreases.

5. Grunting Sounds

Electric water heaters are known for their consistency, quietness, and dependability in operation. Your water heater is probably working too hard if it is creating strange noises, rumblings, or vibrations. 

Sediment accumulation at the tank’s base is a common cause of rumbling and subsequent issues. We need to investigate those noises.

If you disregard these warning signs, you may experience a rapid water heater breakdown, ice cold water, or even a leaky tank and water ruining your floors and carpets. 

In addition to the inconvenience of having to replace it quickly, having to get the plumber out in the event of an unexpected breakdown usually means having to settle with less energy-efficient and more expensive alternatives.

Tips for Extending the Life of Your Water Heater

Homeowners can extend the life of their water heaters by performing two routine maintenance tasks:

Do a Tank Flush

Shut off the water supply and the heater, wait for the water to cool, and then drain half of it. Turn off the water supply or remove the anode rod, then add two or three liters of vinegar. 

Empty the tank after waiting several hours. Afterward, you should turn the heating system back on, link the water supply, and refill the tank.

The standard advice is to perform this task once a year. An additional feature of tankless models is the ability to flush. Turn off the unit’s isolation valves and use a pump to run vinegar through the coils.

Put in a new Anode Rod.

The anode rod in a tank heater collects the corrosive ions that would otherwise eat away at the tank’s interior. The result is the corrosion and eventual disintegration of the rod. 

When it reaches 50% degradation, typically between the third and fifth year, manufacturers advise replacing it.

Can a Hot Water Heater Last 20 Years?

Turn off your water supply and the heater, wait for the water to cool, and then remove the rod by unscrewing it off the top of the tank. Put in the new one, make sure it’s snug, and flip the switch.

What causes tank water heaters to degrade so rapidly?

Tank-style water heaters have a limited lifespan of 8-15 years. The model and the level of care you give it throughout the years will determine how long it will last. 

There are specific models of water heaters that come with a warranty that lasts for ten years, but most only insure the unit for five. Still, this is far from the 20-year lifespan a water heater should have.

Due to the constant exposure to high temperatures, tank water heaters often have a short lifespan. They keep heating whether or not you’re using hot water. 

A tank or its parts could eventually fail from so much heat. Manufacturers can do little to stop this issue except make the heaters expensive.

Consider the tank material carefully if you want a long-lasting water heater. The less probable your tank will leak, the better and thicker the material. 

If your water heater tank leaks, it’s time to replace it. A water heater with a lifespan of 10 to 15 years is still acceptable, but if you want to go for twenty years, a water heater with no tank is a better option.

What To Do When Your Water Heater Breaks Down

If your water heater breaks down completely or develops a severe leak, you must get a new one. It’s best to call a plumber for that. Turn off the water and electricity because it could take days until the plumber arrives.

  • If yours is electric, turn off the breaker. Turn the gas connection valve off and the power off switch on if it’s a gas model.
  • Find the cold water shutoff valve (often colored blue) and close it.
  • Turn off the hot water supply by locating the red valve that does so.
  • Turn off the sink and other appliances until the plumbing expert arrives.

What Can Shorten the Lifespan of a Water Heater?

Water Quality

Using a water heater to heat hard water regularly can lower its useful life by around two years. The minerals in hard water can cause limescale in your water heater, decreasing its performance.

Minerals in the water can damage plumbing and heating systems, but water softeners can filter them out.

Procedures for Maintenance

Your water heater could only work after a few years if you keep up with regular maintenance and repairs. With regular upkeep, however, water heaters can serve their owners for decades.

Water Heater Components

High-end materials, such as fiberglass, provide a longer lifespan for water heaters than cheaper metals.

Power Source

Water heaters can run on electricity or natural gas, depending on the model. Electric water heaters often have a lifespan that is two to three times that of their gas counterparts.

Position of Setup

Cold crawl spaces require more energy from your water heater to maintain the proper temperature. Rapid deterioration and eventual failure are inevitable. Houses with climate control systems typically have water heaters that last longer.

Final Thoughts

Keeping a close eye on your water heater will help you determine when to replace it. If your water heater develops leaks, rusts, or makes odd noises, you should start saving up for a replacement. You can fix it before it completely stops working. 

If you’re in the market for a new water heater, getting one that uses energy efficiently is essential. You can save a lot of money by purchasing a water heater that has earned the Energy Star label. They may, however, be more expensive than the run-of-the-mill designs.