It’s not uncommon for homeowners to forget about their hot water heater until they no longer have hot water. Even worse, if your hot water heater bursts and floods the area around it and floods lower floors. Hot water heaters, like most appliances, must be properly maintained to reach their maximum longevity.

If you are looking to replace your current water heater, and you’re wondering how long do water heaters last, then read on to learn more about expected water heater lifespans and how you can help them reach their optimum potential.

How Long Water Heaters Should Last

Generally, water heaters should last 12 years, about two years after the best warranties run out. If you recently purchased your home, then you may not know the age of your water heater. You can check the label to learn when it was manufactured to help you determine whether a water heater replacement is in your near future.

The label is a little tricky. The letters are markers for months, which means that A is January, B is February and L is December. The two numbers following the letter indicate the year the water heater was manufactured. For example, C12 means March 2012.

Water heaters may not reach the 12-year mark depending on the model, its maintenance schedule, and the type of water available to your home. It is usually recommended to replace a water heater two years before its suspected end date. When water heaters decide they’re done, it can be an inconvenient, messy, and costly experience.

Signs Your Water Heater is Near the End

Your water heater will often give you signs when it’s having issues. Your first step is to see if you need a water heater repair specialist, but if there have been numerous repairs performed in the past, you may need to go right to a water heater replacement. Here are a few typical signs telling you your water heater is on its last legs:

Banging or Rumbling

Hard water is a water heater’s worst enemy. Mineral deposits accumulate at the bottom of the tank and on the heating elements, reducing the efficiency and causing rust at the tank’s base. 

The rust will eat away at the tank and cause leaks, which is how water tanks flood. In the meantime, the heated calcium and mineral deposits are crackling, banging, and rumbling to let you know the sediment has reached a dangerous level.

Your Water Smells Wrong

Your water will start to smell poorly when mineral levels in your tank are excessive. It will have a metallic or iron smell. You may also notice a difference in taste and find small bits of rust in the water coming out from your faucet.

Less Hot Water

The water tank can only hold so much room. As the sediment builds up, it leaves less room for water. In turn, you have less hot water to spread around the home.

Increased Energy Bills

When the sediment gets on the tank’s heating elements, it makes it harder for them to work properly. Some models allow a plumber to remove the elements and replace them, but often the repair is just a band-aid.

If the sediment is that heavy, then the bottom of the tank is filled with it as well, and the tank may have already started the rusting process.

Discoloration in the Bathtub and Sinks

The brown or yellow discoloration you see is from the hard water. Hard water can decrease the lifespan of a water heater by up to 2 years. Although you can’t stop the water supply from coming into your home, you can get water softeners and have maintenance performed regularly. 

Draining the water from your water heater every year helps remove the sediment buildup that causes most of the problems found in water heaters.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters are a bit different. Also known as on-demand water heaters, they provide hot water as it’s needed. They don’t store water and use anode rods (where the sediment gathers on tank heaters). They have a typical lifespan of 20 years and can last longer with proper maintenance.

Water Heater Experts in Seattle, WA

Craftsman Plumbing serves Seattle, WA and the surrounding areas, ensuring our clients receive the highest quality plumbing services. We offer straightforward pricing, highly-trained employees, and reasonable jargon-free communication on every project.

If you are looking for water heater repair, water heater replacement, or considering upgrading to a tankless water heater, call Craftsman Plumbing today at (206) 855-6110 and discover why people call our services a step above the rest.