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Factors Effect Water Heaters Life

Date Added: September 17, 2009 03:28:51 AM
Author: John Martino
Category: Real Estate & Home Inspection Articles

What factors determine how long a water heater will last?

The usual life expectancy of the typical hot water heater is known to be ten years. There are many factors that effect the life expectancy of a water heater. I have seen water heaters that were five years old fail and have performed home inspections where the water heater was over twenty years old and still pumping out domestic hot water. Some of the factors that effect water heater life expectancy are:

Volume of hot water used:
The more hot water that is used in a home the harder the water heater will have to work to heat that water. Using greater volumes of hot water increases the volumes of water that have to be heated and flow through the water heater tank. The more water called for the more corrosion that can take place and reduce the life expectancy of the water heater.

Quality of the water heater:
Generally speaking a water heater with a longer warranty will be made better then a heater with a short warranty. A water heater with a longer warranty will be generally more expensive at initial purchase but may pay big dividends with its more substantial construction and longer life expectancy. Look for a water heater with longer warranty period.

Anode replacement:
There are two schools of thought on the replacement of a sacrificial anode and water heater life expectancy. The first opinion and the one that I subscribe too is that it just does not matter if the anode is replaced. You can actually do more damage to the unit emptying it out and replacing the anode then keeping the original anode in place. You may be able to coax a few extra years of life from the water heater if you manage to replace the anode but few people actually take on the project. Anode replacement is somewhat complicated so it becomes impractical. The best advice is to leave the sacrificial anode alone. If you are ambitious you can add years to the life expectancy if you replace the anode.

Flushing the water heater:
Emptying the water heater and flushing out the minerals can significantly increase the potential life expectancy of the water heater. Flushing the water heater regularly can also make it more efficient as it heats the water in the tank. Caution must be used not to damage the usually poorly constructed water heater valve. These valves (usually plastic) are prone to breakage, so be careful if undertaking this type of flushing maintenance.

Improperly installing a water heater:
Do not locate the water heater where it can be damaged by flooding. Water will rust out and cause damage to the exterior and burner and greatly shorten the life expectancy of the unit. A water heater should be located in an area where it can be plainly visible and be well vented. Poor venting and location can shorten the life of a water heater. Never install a water heater on its side. Most water heaters are not made for this type of instillation and will be inadequately supported thus causing premature water heater failures.

Corrosive water:
The more corrosive the water supply the shorter the life expectancy of a water heater will be. The chemistry of the water supply plays an important factor in a water heaters life. Water that is high in minerals can also have a detrimental effect on the life of a water heater. Water heaters located in areas where there are less minerals in the water supply as a rule will last longer then those in high mineral areas.

Author: John Martino is an active member of the American Home Inspector Directory
Listed in the New Jersey Home Inspector Directory

Here is a link to John's website; LookSmart Home Inspections LLC New Jersey Home Inspectors
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