Average Life of Water Heaters | 2 Factors Affecting the Lifespan

How long do water heaters last? On average, a water heater model with a traditional tank can last from 9 to 10 years. On the other hand, tankless water heaters have a wider life span, can last up to 20 years or even longer. But some factors can cause your water heater to die sooner.

Indeed, today’s models of water heaters are better designed to live longer compared to the old models. Still, they required proper maintenance and care to prolong their lifespans.

Therefore, you need to do a regular inspection, flushing and draining. After that, you can expect your water heater to complete its average age.

What Affects the Lifespan of Your Water Heater?

Average Life of Water Heater

Several factors affect the lifespan of a water heater. The following are the two primary reasons why the water heaters fail.

Sediment Buildup

This issue is prevalent in tank-style models. It happens when sediments accumulate at the bottom of your heater and stiffen.

Therefore, waterborne chemicals and pollutants will cause corrosion or rust in the tank, resulting in leakage.

Cleaning the tank helps remove the sediment buildup and prolong the expected lifespan of your water heater. Even the cheap models can last longer if they are properly maintained and cared for.

Over pressurization

Your water heater can be ruined by too much water pressure. This issue arises when the psi of water in the tanks is higher than the minimum requirements.

Overheating and too much pressure at the inlet are the two leading causes of this issue. It would be best if you fixed the overpressure because it may cause the tank to explode.

To avoid any precarious situation, always run your heater at the temperature of 140F or lower because of overheating.

Furthermore, you need to fix an adjustable valve at the inlet to reduce the flow of water.

When To Replace Water Heater?

When your water heater hits the expected life of 10 years, it starts deteriorating performance regardless of brand reliability.

You may encounter many issues, such as a weak water flow rate, water full of rust, weird noises, and a repairman on the speed dial.

If your model is new and still has these issues, you have the worst water heater brand. However, you need to check the following indications before replacing your water heater.

1. Your Water Looks Muddy or Rusty

When a tank gets old and rusty, the corrosion starts contaminating your hot water. The color of the water will look rusty or muddy whenever you turn on the hot water.

However, it is difficult to tell whether the rust is coming from a tank or the pipes that lead to the faucet. If the rust is coming directly from the tank, the unit’s replacement will be the final solution.

On the other hand, if old pipes cause rust in water, you can save a huge replacement cost by changing the old pipes.

2. Hot Water Tank is Leaking

This is another indication that your water heater has completed the expected lifespan. So, you need to welcome new water in place of the older one.

According to the IBHS Research Center study, “69 percent of all water heater accidents are caused by a slow leak or a sudden explosion.”

However, all leakages are not of severe level. There are certain water leaks that a plumber can fix quickly, such as leakage from the tank’s seal. So, it is better to consult with a professional before making a decision.

3. Water Heater is No Longer Delivering Hot Water

There is nothing more irritating than getting cold water instead of warm while taking a shower. If it is happening more often, it might be a sign of your water heater’s replacement.

When a water heater’s heating element wears out, it stops producing hot water. If your heater is new, this issue can be fixed by the repairer.

In case your heater has already exceeded the expected lifespan, it is wiser to look for a new one instead of shelling big bucks on repairs.

4. A Repairman is On Your Speed Dial

A repairer is on your speed dial is a clear indication that your water heater is on its last legs. If your water heater is constantly breaking down, it’s time to replace it.

You may fix the frequently occurring problem in the short run, but a longer-run replacement will save you big bucks.

5. Your Water Heater is Making Weird Noises

Water heaters are supposed to be quiet while working. However, if your water heater makes weird noises while running, it is another revealing sign of replacement.

It mostly occurs in the old heaters because of accumulating sediments at the bottom of your heater and harden over time.

If your heater is new and making strange noises, you must consult with a professional as soon as possible. For older models, it is obvious that the days of the unit are numbered.


No matter how reliable your water heater brand is, most of the models entered the declining phase after hitting their expected lifespan. However, you can make sure that your model lasts long by timely maintenance and proper care.

Before buying a new model, you must find out how much does a new water heater costs and their installation labor cost.

Steven Settles Author

Steven Settles is an ISCET-certified master in appliance repair. He has aced the National Appliance Service Technician Certification Exam, showcasing his exceptional diagnostic and repair skills. With an in-depth understanding of the latest repair technologies and a keen eye on evolving industry standards, Steven is a go-to expert for any appliance issue.

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