When Will My Water Heater Die?

When Will My Water Heater Die?

Is your water heater a ticking time bomb? Most homeowner’s insurance claims are due to non-weather related water damage. Veteran Nationwide Insurance agent Ken Lawson recalls one situation in which a family returned home to find their water heater had been leaking for 24 hours. From the attic (where the unit was located), to the basement, the leak destroyed ceiling tiles, walls, and floors—the damages totaling over $100,000.

Understanding your unit is vital for preventing costly, catastrophic failure. If you can stay ahead of and predict potential malfunctions, you can save your family from incurring major home repairs.


How Long Should You Expect Your Unit to Last?

The average lifespan for a well maintained, traditional storage tank-style water heater is 10 to 13 years. For a tankless water heater, you can expect two decades of reliable hot water. However, neglecting routine and proper maintenance can reduce the life of your water heater. Our free Water Heater Maintenance Guide will walk you through 6 key maintenance steps to help your unit last a long time and run as efficiently as possible:

  • Flushing the system
  • Testing the pressure release valve
  • Checking the temperature setting
  • Testing the sacrificial anode rod
  • Insulating the unit
  • Maintaining proper clearance around unit

Following these maintenance steps gives your water heater the best chance to live a full life. If your unit is older and has not been properly maintained, it is a good idea to consult a professional plumber before performing your own maintenance.

What Are Some Signs Your Unit Needs to be Replaced?

Often, before a unit dies, it will show signs of potential failure. Obviously, if your unit is getting old, it is important to monitor it for signs of failure, especially if it is in an area of your home that is susceptible to water damage (attic, interior closet, etc.).

Besides age, there are several other signs your water heater may soon fail:

  • Leaking or moisture around the unit—even if it seems minor.  
  • Rusty or discolored water
  • Unusual noise from the unit itself or in your home when the hot water is in use
  • Excessive delays in warming water
  • Quickly running out of hot water
  • Corrosion or rust in or around unit

If you see these signs or have concerns about your water heater, it is important to consult a professional as soon as possible. Delaying repairs or replacement can contribute to costlier damages if your unit fails completely.

Should Your Water Heater be in Your Attic?

If your water heater is in your attic, it is even more vital to perform routine maintenance and consistently monitor it for signs of failure. When attic water heaters expire they can cause water damage throughout your entire home. Consider having your water heater moved to your crawlspace, garage, basement, or utility room, especially if it is near the end of its lifespan.

Should You Consider a Tankless Water Heater?

It is worth considering replacing your older tank-style unit with an energy efficient tankless water heater. Though they are more expensive to purchase and install, they can save homeowners money in the long run.

Tankless water heaters can save homeowners money for repairs and replacement and reduce regular energy consumption. Heating water contributes considerably to your overall energy costs. By only heating water on demand, tankless water heaters waste less hot water than traditional tank-style systems.  

If you suspect your water heater is on its last leg, do not hesitate to call a professional plumber before you find yourself with major water damage repairs.

Quality Doesn’t Cost, It Pays!