16 Oct. 19

When to Replace a Water Heater

A common misconception is that a water heater which has stopped functioning has to be replaced. The truth behind the myth is that the only part of the water heater which necessitates replacement is a leak in the tank itself. Most common water heater problems involve components that can be replaced, and typically it is much cheaper to fix a water heater than replace it .

How Long Do Water Heaters Last?

As a rule of thumb, water heaters are not designed to last much beyond about 10 to 15 years (more or less). So to answer the question of “how long does a water heater last?”, it really depends.

If you know how to flush a water heater and perform the steps once a year as well as maintain the unit according to any other manufacturer’s recommendations, you can get several more years, but the tank will still fail eventually.

Water heaters with a fiberglass tank, however, can last substantially longer, and high end models may even come with a lifetime warranty on the tank. Damaged tanks cannot be repaired, regardless of the materials they are made from.

Repair or Replace? Call (818) 282-5846

Regular maintenance will extend the life of your water heater, and some repairs, such as replacing a pressure-relief valve or heating element are pretty simple. However, if you have a leak, if your water heater is older than 8-12 years, or you just wish to upgrade and cut your energy expense, it is time for a new heater. Follow our tips to troubleshoot your gas or electric water heater issues and learn how long a water heater should last.


Based on the manufacturer’s suggested service life, the life expectancy of a water heater is about 8 to 12 years. That varies with the location and design of the unit, quality of installation, maintenance schedule and water quality.

If your water heater is more than 10 years old, leaks around the base of the tank, and / or works erratically or not at all, it’s probably time for replacement. However, before you begin the replacement process, make sure that an electrical problem, such as a blown fuse or tripped breaker, is not the reason for the unit’s failure.

Gas water heater

  • Make sure that the gas is connected and the pilot light is lit.
  • Flush the heater to remove sediment from the tank.
  • Insulate the hot water pipes.
  • Clean the gas burner and replace the thermocoupler (a safety device that shuts off the gas automatically if the pilot flame goes out).
  • Raise the temperature setting on the thermostat.

Why Tanks Fail

There are two primary causes of a failed water heater tank.

Reason #1 – Overpressurization

The first is overpressurization, where the psi of the water in the tank exceeds specifications. There are two causes for overpressurization, excessive heating and too much pressure at the inlet. To avoid these situations, keep the hot water temperature at 140F or lower for overheating issues, and install an adjustable valve at the inlet to decrease the flow for the second.

A water heater expansion tank is a must if your home runs on a closed water supply system. When the water in the tank heats up, it expands (thermal expansion) and that water needs somewhere to go. In an open water system, that pressure pushes back into your city’s water supply.

In a closed system, the extra pressure is relieved by temporarily flowing into the expansion tank. If that pressure has no where to go, your tank can literally burst.

Reason #2 – Sediment Buildup

The second, and most common, reason that tanks fail is because of sediment buildup in the tank. Chemicals and contaminants in the water will eventually cause corrosion or even rust inside the tank, and that will lead to a leak.

Once a minor leak occurs, pressure inside the tank will force water through the flaw, slowly increasing the amount of leakage. Even a cheap water heater will last longer if it is properly cared for.

When purchasing a new tank, make sure the model includes a good quality anode rod. Anode rods attract contaminants out of the water and delay corrosion. They literally sacrifice themselves to save the tank from becoming corroded.

The water heater anode rod will become caked with contaminants over time, which will cause the rod to be eaten away and eventually need to be replaced, but this component is very inexpensive when compared to the cost of a new water heater.

Which Type of Water Heater Installation is Best?

There are two sorts of standard water heaters, gas and electric. An electric water heater can be used virtually anywhere. A gas water heater is most likely to be set up in a home that already makes use of gas for another device such as a furnace or stove. Building codes might dictate the placement of gas water heaters, limiting them to locations beyond typical house activity.

It is likely if you are changing a water heater, you’ll simply change it with the same sort of system that was already set up. Nevertheless, there are upgrade choices that should be thought about. For example: if space allows, you may opt to enhance the device’s holding capacity to accommodate a growing household. Another essential factor to consider is the system’s energy efficiency. Replacement time is the ideal time to lower the energy costs by picking a water heater that is a lot more energy reliable.

When searching for a water heater, think about these features

Gallon capacity (40-gallon and 50-gallon heaters are most common).
Recovery rate (the number of gallons the heater will heat in an hour).
Size (width and height – physical space may limit your capability to upgrade your system’s capacity and will the heater fit in the area you have for it?).
The energy efficiency score (a sticker on the side should provide the estimated annual cost of operation for the system).

Call Best Quality Plumbing Inc, for more information or you think is time to replace your water heater, we are available to help! (818) 282-5846