Your water heater may be all good now, but there will come a time it won’t be. Even the best ones wear down over the years and quite quickly if not maintained properly. To prevent surprise cold showers, watch out for telltale signs that it’s time for a new water heater.
Ask yourself these important questions first: How old is the water heater? Did it come with the old house you purchased or was it recently installed? How often does it get maintenance services? Have you noticed strange noises or rust from the heater?
Typically, a water heater has 10 to 20 years, but several factors may affect those numbers, such as the type of heater, its maintenance or lack thereof, and water quality in your home.
Types of Water Heater
Tank-Style Water Heater
A standard tank-type water heater lasts anywhere from 8 to 12 years, thanks to the sacrificial anode rod inside the tank. The anode rod protects the tank from rusting through the process called electrolysis. The rod attracts corrosive particles to itself so that the inner lining of the tank stays free of corrosive particles.
When the anode rod reaches its limit, those corrosive particles will find their way to the bottom of the tank and slowly destroy the lining. When that happens, it’s only a matter of time before your tank-type heater needs to be replaced.
Tankless Water Heater
On-demand tankless heaters do not work continuously to provide a supply of hot water so they last longer than their tank-style counterparts. Tankless water heaters last 20 years or even more. However, like all equipment, a tankless water heater will break and require replacement. Your job is to pay attention to its performance so you won’t be caught in surprise.
Hard water can shorten the lifespan of your heater significantly. It can affect other home appliances or equipment that uses water too.
Hard water contains magnesium, calcium, and other minerals that cause a build-up over time. These minerals become scaly deposits around the heater and reduce the space for water inside the tank.
How do you know you have hard water? Watch out for common signs of a water problem, like a foul smell, rusty or cloudy water appearance, and bad taste. You can use water softeners to treat your water. If the problem persists or if you suspect the problem has affected your plumbing system, contact us and schedule a site inspection with one of our professional technicians.
Water Heater Maintenance
Just like any equipment in your home, proper upkeep, including regular maintenance services, helps extend the lifespan of your heater. If your heating equipment has been neglected or you inherited one from a previous homeowner and you can’t tell if the heater has been taken care of, best to call in plumbing experts.
Among other professional measures, our technicians check for hard water, rusty valves and pipes, sediment buildup, and water leaks. They flush heaters to drain particle deposits at the button of the tank. They check the sacrificial anode rod and check thermostat settings.
Signs Your Heater Needs a Replacement
If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to bring in the pro for a thorough inspection and most likely a replacement.
- Failure to heat water
- Water leaks
- Strange Noises
It’s also important to know the age of your water heater. The serial number will give you this information but in a different format.
How Old Is Your Water Heater?
The serial number on the manufacturer’s sticker is composed of alphanumeric characters but you only need to understand the first three characters. The first character, a letter, represents the month of manufacturing so that the letter “A” means January, “B” is for February, “C” stands for March, and so on.
The next two digits represent the last two numbers of the year of manufacturing.
Whether your heater has 2 or 10 more years of life left, proper maintenance is a big deal. Schedule annual maintenance services with a plumbing professional and always keep tabs on your water heater’s condition. While you’re at it, pay attention to the condition of the water you use at home too.
If you think the water’s too cold or it smells weird, you can bet it’s not your imagination. Contact us for fast, reliable plumbing solutions.