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How Long Does a Hot Water Heater Last? (Water Heater Lifespan)

Writen by Ronald Brown

Fact checked by Natalie Bridges

how long does a hot water heater last

The average lifespan of a hot water heater varies greatly, depending on whether it is a gas tank, electric tank, or tankless water heater. Upon purchasing a new home, the first thing homeowners should check is the condition of their heater and scrutinize ‘how long does a hot water heater last?’

By the rule of thumb, we know that:

It is essential to know the life of hot water heater so you can avoid the sudden need to search for a water heater replacement.

Table of Contents

Check the Serial Number to Know the Heater’s Lifespan


An accurate way of telling the hot water heater lifespan is by giving it a closer inspection and looking for the serial number; the letter corresponds to the month it was made (A for Jan, B for Feb, all the way to L for Dec) and the next two numbers beside it shows you the year it was made.

What Causes My Heater to Break

  • Type of water: The water filtered by our heaters is what plumbers call “hard water” this means that the water contains excessive minerals. This situation isn’t necessarily bad, but our heater works twice as hard to ensure that the water coming out of your shower, or faucet, is nice and warm for you.
  • Wear-and-tear damage: Over time, elements shorten the life expectancy of a hot water heater, but this can be easily remedied if you regularly check the anode rod that collects all the minerals. By doing so, you increase your hot water heater’s lifespan.
  • Inner lining corrosion: Leaks often spring from the water heater when the inner lining has been corroded, and a leakage usually indicates the need for a replacement.

What Should We Do to Make Sure the Water Heat Runs Well


  • Conduct a general check-up: Before completely finding a water heater replacement, it is best to check up first if there are just some components that need to be replaced, realigned, or recalibrated.
  • First, check if all the valves are tight and the pipes are aligned; by making these small replacements of the components, you will also extend the average lifespan of a water heater instead of immediately looking for a replacement.
  • Drain frequently: Another thing to note is during the life of a water heater, it is important to drain it at least twice a year to get rid of any sediments resting on the bottom of the tank. The sediments are often why the life expectancy of a water heater decreases since they cause cracks to appear.

What Can I Do With Anode Rod?

With the proper care of your heater, you can increase the average lifespan of a water heater to up to 20 years, whether it is gas or electric! The secret lies in draining and consistently cleaning your heater; more specifically, it’s anode rod.

  • Locate the rod: The anode rod is often located near the hot water outlet. Its job is to attract all the minerals through electrolysis. Hence, the minerals do not damage the inner lining of the water heater. And by doing so, the life of the water heater is extended.
  • Check the rod: Since it attracts most minerals, it quickly gets corroded and, when left unchecked, leads to leaks. By cleaning your anode rod, you can prevent further leaks and damages, effectively extending the life expectancy of a water heater.
  • Replace if needed: When cleaning the anode rod won’t do the trick, the last resort would be buying and replacing the old rod for the betterment of your heater.

As soon as you hear cleaning, rumbling, or hear anything else out of the ordinary, as well as more frequent leaks, then it is time to start looking for a replacement.

The Takeaway

Overall, when a water heater is properly maintained and taken care of, you’ll find that the need for a water heater replacement is rather far off into the future. Still, before looking for any replacements, it is crucial to see what can be potentially repaired before making the big decision of replacing the whole thing.

How did you find this article? We do hope that you were able to gain some helpful information on ‘how long does a hot water heater last?” We would love to hear your thoughts about this matter. Feel free to leave a message below or share this with others.

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