How Long Does A Water Heater Last And What Influences Its Lifespan?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on September 26th, 2023

Hot water is an indispensable part of our daily routine, be it for a warm shower, washing dishes, or doing laundry. That makes it crucial to know how long you can expect your water heater to last and what you can do to extend its lifespan. This article dives deep into the different types of water heaters, the factors that impact their longevity, and when you should consider replacing them.

Understanding the Lifespan of Different Types of Water Heaters

Tank Water Heaters: How Long Do They Last?

Tank water heaters are the most common and usually last between 6 and 13 years. The lifespan is directly influenced by the quality of water that flows through it and the maintenance practices you employ. Adhering to the manufacturer’s guidelines for yearly draining and cleaning is essential for maximizing its service life.

Smiling technician repairing an hot-water heater

Tankless Water Heaters: The Modern Long-lasting Alternative

Tankless water heaters tend to have a longer lifespan, clocking in around 20 to 30 years. These on-demand water heaters operate only when needed, reducing the wear and tear compared to their tank counterparts. Despite their longevity, even tankless models can corrode, albeit at a slower pace.

Factors Influencing a Water Heater’s Lifespan

Water Quality: Soft vs. Hard Water

The type of water your heater warms can make a significant difference. Hard water, which contains minerals, is known to form limescale in the heater, affecting its performance and reducing its lifespan by about two years. Using a water softener can help mitigate these effects.

Maintenance Matters

Consistent maintenance, including timely repairs, can extend the lifespan of your water heater significantly. It’s advisable to follow a maintenance schedule that includes annual or semi-annual inspections, sediment flushing, and necessary repairs.

Material Quality: Fiberglass vs. Steel

The construction material of your water heater also plays a role in its longevity. Water heaters made from high-quality materials like fiberglass tend to outlast those made from common materials like steel.

Power Source: Electric vs. Gas

The type of energy your water heater uses also has an impact. Electric water heaters generally last 1-2 years longer than gas-powered models.

Installation Location: Climate and Temperature

If your water heater is placed in a colder area, it will have to work harder to maintain the desired water temperature, accelerating its wear and tear. A temperature-regulated installation location can extend its lifespan.

Red Flags: Signs Your Water Heater Needs Attention

Water Color and Smell

If you notice that the water has a rusty color or an unusual smell, it may indicate either corrosion within the water heater or issues with your home’s plumbing.

Sounds and Noises

Unusual rumbling or gurgling noises are often a sign of sediment accumulation, which can cause internal damage and reduce efficiency.

Temperature Issues

If you’re experiencing cold water despite the heater being on, immediate maintenance is required to rectify the issue.

Moisture and Leaks

The presence of water or moisture around the heater often signifies leaks or cracks that may require a replacement.

Tips for Selecting a New Water Heater

Before making a purchase, consider your household’s water demands. While 100 gallons a day might be typical for a four-member family, it doesn’t mean you need a 100-gallon tank. Assess the first-hour rating to determine your actual needs. Also, ensure the new model fits in the space designated for it.


Your home’s hot water supply is too important to overlook. Being knowledgeable about the factors that affect your water heater’s longevity can save you time and money in the long run. For those looking to invest in a new water heater, energy-efficient models with the Energy Star certification may offer long-term cost savings, despite a higher upfront cost.

By understanding the signs of wear, key considerations for longevity, and how to select a new water heater, you’re well-equipped to make informed decisions that ensure a steady and reliable hot water supply for years to come.


Editorial Staff

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