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Life Expectancy | Water Heater Pros | Sacramento, Ca

Life Expectancy 


              Water Heater Life Expectancy

                  By Sid Baysinger


How long will your water heater last?

Installing and repairing water heaters for more than 40 years has taught me much.

The average water heater life expectancy has diminished over the last 30-35 years. 
Thirty years ago, you could expect a new water heater to last at least twenty or more years, even without regular maintenance.


How long will your water heater last if you are in Sacramento, California? 

Tank failure (leaking) is the only reason to trash a unit; everything else can be repaired. 

You can have a new water heater installed by Water Heater Pros. A tank with a 6-year warranty (most common) should last an average of 12 years, an 8-year warranty should last an average of 16 years, and a 12-year warranty should last an average of 24 years of course, these numbers are only valid with proper preventive maintenance by flushing the tank once or twice a year and replace the sacrificial anode rod every 3-4 years or as necessary.

You can purchase fiberglass or stainless steel tank-type water heaters with lifetime warranties. However, the cost is very high. Upgrading to gas tankless is a much better choice if you have an existing tank type (traditional) gas water heater; plus, you will save an average of 30% on your gas bill, and most tankless can last 25-30 years.

Why does a water heater tank fail?

Hard water mineral sediment collects at the bottom of the tank; this separation of caustic minerals is caused by hot water temperatures exceeding 120 degrees, and more incredibly, the minerals form layers at the bottom of the tank in the form of a jelly after about 12 months or so, this jelly starts to solidify (harden), flushing your tank every 6-12 months will remove this jelly (dirty or acid water as known in the industry) before it's too late.


Undersized water heater for the size of home and family members has also caused excessive overheating, leading to premature tank failure. High water pressure and heat expansion also determine premature tank failures.


These are the most common causes of tank failure; over some time, the glass liner applied to the steel tank at the factory will begin to crack, very fine cracks all over at first, just like an old china tea cup. Once this glass (porcelain) liner is compromised, the water comes in contact with the raw steel tank; at this point, the tank begins to rust slowly. If the anode rod is spent (used up), eventually, the tank will begin to leak. You cannot repair the water heater if the tank is leaking; the water heater must be replaced.

Can a 6-year warranty water heater be made to last longer?

Yes, it can. Any model will last longer with proper maintenance. However, some cheaper models are sold without a sacrificial anode rod. An anode rod (usually aluminum-magnesium alloy) helps to keep your tank from rusting out. Electromagnetic current is always present when water is heated; this magnetic current eats steel like a cancer. However, it will first attack the sacrificial anode rod and not your steel water tank, buying longevity.


You can purchase an anode for about thirty dollars in Sacramento, California. You will want the type that screws into the hot water outlet of your water heater. Most 6-year warranty water heaters are the same unit as a 12-year model, which has a different label attached to it (manufacturers extend the tank warranty). Some have a second anode rod or other small features, but most are the same model.


Follow a regular maintenance schedule (flush the tank every 6 to 12 months), keeping the tank as sediment-free as possible. Remember FLUSH your water heater tank under constant water pressure; do not DRAIN the tank; the idea is to stir the mineral settlement at the bottom of the tank under constant pressure; this will flush the build-up of minerals out of the tank.

When water is heated, it will expand an average of 6% at 125 degrees. Hot water can put enormous pressure on the tank; repeated expansion over time will eventually cause a tank to fail and leak. To counter this, install an expansion tank above the water heater, which is now required by code in most areas of Sacramento County. If you follow these guidelines, you could add many more years of life expectancy.

cartoon image of Sid Baysinger



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