How Long Water Heaters Last and Signs Yours Is Failing

Like so many things in life, you can never know for sure when your water heater will finally quit working for good. Thankfully, there are warning signs that your water heater is reaching the end of its life span. If discovered early enough, you may have enough time to determine if the water heater can be repaired or if replacement is more cost effective.

Simons Heating & Cooling is happy to break it down for you. With our help, you’ll never be caught off-guard and without hot water again.

Average Life Expectancy of Water Heaters 

A conventional storage tank water heater lasts an average of 8 to 12 years. For many models, it’s recommended to replace the water heater once it reaches 10 years of age. Routine maintenance tasks—like annually draining the tank to remove sediment buildup—can help extend your water heater’s life span. Tankless water heaters are more expensive to install, but can last more than 20 years with consistent maintenance.

Warning Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Water Heater 

It is important to monitor your water heater for signs of trouble, especially if it passes the halfway point of the average life span. Some signs it may be time to replace your water heater include:

  • Water leaking from the tank
  • Dirty, rusty or discolored water
  • Visible rust on the tank
  • Smaller quantities of hot water
  • Loud or strange noises
  • Faulty pilot light
  • Noticeably higher energy bills

If your water heater is more than 10 years old (or 20 years for tankless models), it may be time for a replacement. Consult a professional plumber like the team at Simons Heating & Cooling to get an expert opinion on whether water heater repair or replacement is the most cost-effective solution.

How to Install a New Tank-Type Water Heater 

It’s always best to have a professional handle water heater installation. However, if you prefer to try installation yourself, here’s what you need to do to replace tank model water heaters. (Note: Tankless water heater installation is more complex and requires professional tools and experience.)

  1. Shut off connected utilities: Shut off the water supply and any gas or electric utilities before starting the installation process.
  2. Drain the existing tank and disconnect water/fuel lines: Make sure the tank is completely empty before disconnecting the water line as well as any electrical or natural gas hookups.
  3. Install the T&P valve: Install the temperature and pressure (T&P) relief valve onto the water heater. This valve helps prevent pressure buildup inside the tank, which can cause severe damage or even an explosion.
  4. Reconnect the water and gas/electric supply lines: Connect the water and fuel supply lines to the replacement water heater. Make sure you have the correct fittings and connectors and follow manufacturer instructions.
  5. Fill the tank and perform safety tests: After reconnecting the supply lines, fill the replacement tank with water and check for any leaks or other issues. You should also test the T&P valve to make sure it’s functioning properly.
  6. Insulate and secure: Finally, it’s a good idea to insulate the water heater to reduce heat loss. Secure it in place with a strap kit or brackets or to minimize damage. Anchoring the water heater to a platform on the floor or wall is another way to keep it in place.

Keep in mind that this is a basic overview. Ultimately, specific steps and requirements will vary depending on the make and model of your chosen water heater as well as any local building codes. For these reasons, we generally recommend letting a professional plumber or contractor handle installation.

Avoid the Risk of Backdrafting

Backdrafting refers to the reversed flow of gas in the flues of fuel-fired appliances like your water heater. If ignored, backdrafting can leak dangerous combustion byproducts like carbon monoxide gas into the air. This can be very dangerous as carbon monoxide poisoning causes a number of health problems. With high or prolonged exposure, it can even be fatal. For your safety and well-being, we strongly recommend leaving water heater installation to licensed and insured professionals.

Disposing of the Old Water Heater Tank

 Simons Heating & Cooling is happy to handle the removal and disposal of your old water heater tank. If you want to do so yourself, however, you should first contact your recycling center to find out if they pick up water heaters as part of their regular services.

Another option is bringing it to a certified recycler, but you can also try the local landfill if you are unable to find a recycling center. Landfills may accept and dispose of water heaters for a fee. Finally, some choose to donate their water heater to Goodwill or a similar organization. Approved donations are even eligible for a tax deduction. If none of the above options are available to you, you can always scrap your water heater for the metal or contact the municipal government for more resources on appliance recycling programs.

Let Simons Heating & Cooling Handle Water Heater Repair, Replacement

Are you noticing signs that your water heater is failing? Contact Simons Heating & Cooling for an inspection or free estimate. We’ll recommend a high-efficiency replacement water heater that will meet your hot water needs for years to come. To get started, give us a call at (518) 955-1051 today.