Your water heater is probably the most underappreciated appliance in your home. Really – without the water heater, you couldn’t have any of these luxuries:
- Steamy showers
- Warm baths
- Disinfected dishes
- Disinfected towels and sheets
- Hot water, period.
Given the importance of the water heater, do you really know much about it? We’re here with a few things to think about when it comes to servicing, maintaining, and replacing your water heater.
The average lifespan of residential water heaters is between ten and twelve years.
Natural gas and electric water heaters will usually last about a decade before you need to look into replacing the appliance. If you are unsure what age your water heater is, the date the unit was manufactured will be shown in the serial number which you can find on the ID sticker on the water heater tank.
Maturing water heaters are nothing to take lightly. A water heater that is 10 years or older is at greater risk of producing a leak and resulting in water damage to your home. If your water heater sits in your attic or above the first floor, the potential for catastrophic damage rises. Be sure you have your water heater maintenance annually to avoid any leaks from damaging your home.
The most common failure of residential water heaters that will need replacement is a leaking tank.
It is highly recommended to have your plumber install the water heater in a drain pan with piping that enables the pan to drain to the outside of your home and minimize the possibility of water damage. Each water heater should have a functional and accessible cut-off valve on the inlet water supply to the tank, and a ball-type valve on the gas supply. For electric water heaters, an electrical shut off should be positioned close by.
If a water heater is “undersized,” in particular a gas water heater, the system will breakdown in a shorter period of time.
When a gas water heater is routinely emptied of hot water due to significant hot water usage, the gas burner is set off repeatedly which can produce heavy condensation on the tank exterior. The condensation can produce more expeditious decomposition of the steel tank. Additionally, the severe heat from the gas burner on the underside of the water heater tank can also cause damage to the glass lining on the inner section of the tank, which reduces the life expectancy of the water heater.
Water Heater sizing is a significant replacement issue.
The water supply creates pressure for all water heaters, and as water is heated, it expands creating even more pressure. When thinking about replacing a water heater, it’s generally better to go with a bigger 50 gallon tank, rather than a 30 or 40 gallon tank, providing the location will accommodate the larger size. The bigger tank will also give you more hot water capacity.