Florida homeowners count on water heaters for just about everything at home – taking a hot shower, doing the laundry, washing dishes – the list goes on.
In fact, heating water is one of the leading expenses in a home, accounting for as much as 18% of utility bills.
And while it may seem as though your water heater can withstand the test of time, it’s not made to last forever.
It’s not a matter of if, but when your water heater will eventually stop working.
The Problem with Aging Water Heaters
Water heaters typically contain an anode rod, which is a steel core wire that’s screwed to the top of the unit to prevent rusting. Over time, these rods begin to corrode, causing the water heater to rust from the inside.
The problem? You can’t see these signs of deterioration. Your water heater could still function properly and look OK when in reality it’s an accident waiting to happen.
According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, water heater failure is one of the top five sources of residential
water damage, costing an average of $4,444 per incident after the deductible was paid.
As a result, most home insurance companies require a four-point inspection for older homes – and if the water heater is over 25 years old, they will request that it be replaced for the owner to obtain or renew coverage.
How Long Do Water Heaters Last?
Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to this question. In addition to factors like water quality and general maintenance, water heater life expectancy depends a lot on the type of unit you have.
Conventional Storage Water Heater
Conventional storage water heaters are the most popular type of water heating system for the home. They operate by releasing hot water from the
top of the tank when you turn on the hot water tap. Meanwhile, cold water is replaced through the bottom of the tank, to eventually heat up.
Water Heater Life Expectancy: 10-15 years
Tankless Water Heater
Tankless water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank, and provide hot water on an as-needed basis. When
you turn on the hot water tap, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit, where it is then heated and released.
Water Heater Life Expectancy: 20+ years
Heat Pump Water Heater
Working like a refrigerator in reverse, a heat pump water heater uses electricity to transfer heat instead of generating heat directly, making
it more energy efficient than a conventional water heater.
Water Heater Life Expectancy: 10-15 years
Solar Water Heater
Solar water heaters use the sun's heat to provide hot water in a home. They are a cost-effective way to generate hot water since the fuel they use – sunshine – is free.
Water Heater Life Expectancy: ~ 20 years
Tankless Coil and Indirect Water Heater
Tankless coil and indirect water heaters use a home's space heating system to heat water. A tankless coil water heater provides
hot water on demand without a tank, while an indirect water heater requires a storage tank.
Water Heater Life Expectancy: 10-11 years
Is It Time to Replace Your Water Heater?
Here are six ways to detect if you need to replace your water heater:
- The water is a rusty or non-clear color
- The water isn’t getting hot enough, or isn’t getting hot at all
- The water has a strange odor or metallic taste
- You hear loud popping noises while the water heater is operating
- There are leaks surrounding the water heater, which could indicate a serious problem
- The water heater is more than 10 years old or nearing the end of its life expectancy
If you need to replace your water heater, we recommend hiring a professional to install it. This will ensure that the equipment is installed properly and to code.
Preventing Water Heater Failures
While there are steps you can take to improve the overall health of your water heater, like draining it twice a year and testing the pressure-relief valve, the best way to prevent a water heater failure and subsequent water damage is to replace it when
it has neared its life expectancy or if it has continuous issues.
Now that you understand water heater life expectancy, enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing you aren’t likely to come home to a broken water heater, or worse, a flooded garage.