The average water heater life expectancy has diminished over the last several years.
Thirty years ago you could expect a new water heater to last at least twenty years. Even without regular maintenance.
How long will your water heater last if you purchase one today?
Tank failure is the only reason to trash a unit. Everything else can be repaired.
The manufactures tank warranty is a good guideline to use as far as life expectancy is concerned.
A tank with a five year warranty should last four to six years, without preventive maintenance. Up to ten years if you keep the sediment flushed out and replace the anode rod as necessary.
A tank warranted for ten years could last fifteen to twenty years with proper maintenance.
There are fiberglass tanks with lifetime warranties and stainless steel tanks that will last years longer than a standard unit.
Why does a water heater tank fail?
Excessive sediment, high heat and pressure over a period of time will cause the glass liner to crack. Once the liner is compromised, water comes in contact with the steel tank. At this point the tank begin to rust. Eventually the tank will began to leak or even burst.
Which will last longer, gas or electric?
As a general rule, if you place a gas and electric unit side by side on the same water system the electric unit will survive a tad longer. However, this is not always true.
An electric unit could fail two years before it should and a gas unit could survive two years longer than expected.
Can an inexpensive water heater be made to last longer?
Yes it can. Any model will last longer with proper care.
Some cheaper models are sold without a sacrificial anode rod. An anode helps to keep your tank from rusting out.
You can purchase an anode for about thirty dollars. You will want the type that screws into the hot water outlet.
Follow a regular maintenance schedule keeping the tank as sediment free as possible.
When water is heated it expands. If you took a one gallon can filled with cold water, sealed the top and set it on your stove eye, it would explode.
Hot water can put enormous pressure on the tank causing it to leak prematurely. To counter this, we recommend installation of an expansion tank above the water heater.