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On average, most homeowners don’t give their water heaters a second thought until something goes wrong. When you’re ready to take a nice hot shower, wash the dishes, or do a load of laundry and your home’s equipment doesn’t cooperate, you begin to wonder if your water heater has reached the end of its useful life or if there is some minor issue that needs fixing.

What is the Average Life of a Water Heater?

The average lifespan of most tank water heaters ranges from 10 to 20 years, with many homeowners replacing their units at around 13 years.  A tankless water heater can last for 20 years, or even longer since there are fewer parts that “hold” water and can suffer from corrosion.

There are several variables that can impact that lifespan of your water heater:

  • Quality of Unit – Understandably, certain water heater models are going to last longer than others. According to a Consumer Reports study, models thicker insulation and higher-wattage heating elements were of superior quality. Some models have better anodes to fight corrosion and even self-cleaning features to flush mineral deposits from pipes.
  • Rate of Usage – A 50-gallon tank water heater that serves a family of six won’t last as long as one that serves just one or two people.
  • Installation – Water heaters must be installed correctly to work properly. For example, a poorly-ventilated unit will have a shorter lifespan as well as create a safety hazard. Water heaters should also be placed in areas that aren’t susceptible to flooding and that are easily accessible for maintenance.
  • Regular Maintenance – One of the simplest ways to increase the useful life of your water heater is to perform regular maintenance on the unit. This can help you identify issues and prevent other costly ones.

How Old is Your Current Water Heater?

Even if you can’t find the paperwork for your existing water heater, you can probably determine its age by the serial number. Most water heaters have a serial number that consists of a letter followed by a series of numbers.

The first letter corresponds to the month the unit was manufactured. For example, “A” is for January, “C” is March, all the way through “L” to December. The second two figures represent the year. So, “A11” would mean the unit was manufactured in January 2011. You can also confirm this on the manufacturer’s website.

Repair vs. Replacement When Things Go Wrong

If you’re having trouble with your water heater, it may or may not be time to replace the unit. For example, there might simply be an issue with your thermostat, the pressure relief valve, or your water supply pipes. These are potential fixes without replacing your unit.

But, when your water heater needs replacement, you can choose the same type of unit or consider some upgrade possibilities. Perhaps changing needs will prompt you to go with a larger or smaller tank or you may opt to go tankless.

Fast Water Heater Company serves customers throughout the West Coast. Contact us today to learn more about your options or to schedule an appointment to diagnose your issue – fast.