Can a Hot Water Heater Last 20 Years? (The Answer Might Shock You!)

How Long Can a Water Heater Last

It’s nearly impossible to function without a properly working water heater. You probably rarely—if ever—think about your water heater. However, it’s all you can think about when it stops working.

A bad water heater can wreak havoc as you try to do simple tasks, such as taking showers or doing dishes. When your heater goes bad, it seems like everything is a problem.

Sometimes, you can simply adjust the thermostat. Other times, you may need to replace the heating element.

Alternatively, you may simply need to learn how to drain a water heater. Either way, your water heater must function properly at all times.

Read on to learn whether a hot water heater can last 20 years.

How Long Does a Water Heater Last?

If you take care of your water heater, you can make sure that it lasts as long as possible. However, you also need to know when it’s time to buy a new one. Accordingly, you should know how to perform basic tasks such as how to flush your water heater or relight the pilot.

Still, some people aren’t comfortable working with their water heater. In this case, you need to connect with a plumbing specialist who can make sure your hot water heater stays in top shape.

You should at least know about your water heater pressure relief valve. If your water heater builds up excessive pressure, the relief valve will open to release the pressure.

If this device isn’t functioning correctly, your tank can build up too much pressure and explode. Accordingly, you should know how to drain a hot water heater to keep it functioning properly.

Whenever you work with your water heater, wear protective clothing. For instance, you should have safety gear such as gloves, goggles, and heavy clothing that will protect you from burns.

Also, you must turn off the electric and gas before extinguishing the pilot light. You must also shut off the cold water that’s running into your house.

How to Flush a Water Heater

Over time, sediment can affect the performance of your water heater. Sediment reduces your water heater’s energy efficiency. It can also clog your water lines.

You can increase the lifespan of your water heater and avoid problems by flushing the tank every time you check your water heater pressure relief valve.

To begin, connect the hose to the tank drain valve and point it somewhere where draining water won’t cause damage. With the pressure relief valve open, open the drain valve and allow the tank to drain completely.

Now, close the drain valve, disconnect the hose, and then close the relief valve. Open all the hot water fixtures and turn on the cold water to the tank.

Tip: When you see hot water coming out of the fixtures, close them. Now you can turn on the electricity and then the gas.

Reigniting the Pilot

To reignite the pilot, turn the gas valve to “On” and the control knob to “Pilot.” A light should blink when the water heater lights.

You can confirm that you’ve lit the pilot by viewing the small flame through the windowpane. Now, set the temperature to around 120-degrees.

Tip: You should always read the manufacturer’s directions for more details about lighting your pilot.

If you have a newer water heater, it may have a small pilot light that’s hard to see. If so, turn out the lights and look through the sight glass to make sure that you’ve lit the pilot.

When you first light your water heater, condensation may gather. Condensation is normal and will go away once your water heater warms up.

When Should I Replace My Water Heater?

On average, a water heater should last from eight to twelve years. The lifecycle of your water heater, however, will vary depending on the design of your water heater and where you live.

The lifecycle of your water heater will also vary depending on how well the plumber installed it as well as how well you take care of it. The quality of your water may also affect the lifespan of your water heater.

If a water heater is ten years or older, you should start thinking about replacing it. At the least, you should keep a closer eye on it. For example, if you see leaks around the base of your water heater, it’s probably time to replace it.

Before you retire your old heater, however, check for other problems. For instance, make sure a blown fuse or tripped breaker is not causing your water heater to malfunction.

Many people believe that they need a new water heater when the water isn’t as hot as they like it. However, a defective thermostat or heating element is often the culprit. A plumbing specialist can confirm this for you.

If your water isn’t hot enough, make sure that your water heater is getting power and reset the thermostat. You can also try insulating the hot water pipes, replacing the heater element or raising the temperature.

Tips for Choosing a New Water Heater

With proper care, you may stretch the life of your water heater by up to 20 years. However, there’s no guarantee.

You must determine the size of your new water heater by estimating the needs of your household. For instance, if there are four people in your family, you’ll need to think about how much hot water you need for showers, dishes, laundry, and other tasks.

For a family of four, water usage of 100 gallons a day isn’t unusual. However, that doesn’t mean that you need a 100-gallon water heater.

What you need to determine is the first-hour rating that you need for your new water heater. In other words, you’ll need to figure out how much hot water your water heater must deliver in an hour during peak usage. The U.S. Department of Energy’s website can provide you with more information on how to perform this calculation.

Finally, make sure that your new water heater will fit. Your water heater may have more height or width than your old one, so take measurements before you buy. Alternatively, you may choose to go with a tankless water heater that will take up much less space.

Tip: A bonus with tankless water heaters is that they do typically last about 20 years!

Hire a Pro to Make Sure the Job Gets Done Right

Plumb Time Plumbing & Drain Services can help you get the most life out of your water heater. With the right care, it is possible for your water heater to last for 20 years—or close to it.

Learning how to drain your water heater is an excellent start. However, not everyone is up to performing water heater maintenance. No worries, we have you covered.

Whether you need water heater maintenance or need a replacement, our experienced specialists can help you restore hot water to your home. We’ve helped homeowners in greater Columbia, South Carolina maintain their plumbing and drain systems for nearly three decades

Contact Plumb Time online or give us a call at (803) 988-9020. Manny and Tanya are standing by and waiting to answer your questions or help you schedule repairs.

2 comments… add one
  • John Monro Link Reply

    We have a Cascade Water Heater that is 45 years old & still working ………

  • Tom Link Reply

    Twenty-one years ago, I did my research and bought a Sears Kenmore Power Miser 9+ which uses the “self-cleaning rotoswirl,” which I thought at the time would help because we have VERY hard water where I live. Has delivered hot water ever since and I hate to admit that I have never drained it, although I should know better. I think this water heater used two 3800-watt heating elements as I remember. Although I know I have a 30-amp breaker, I just wonder if I will need to go with a heavier gauge wire if I buy a new unit with two 4500 or 5500 heating elements. Anyway, apparently, I found a good product back then…….too bad they don’t still make the same heater.

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