Hot water systems are built to be durable. A continuous flow gas-powered hot water system has an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years with proper care. An electric hot water system can last 8 to 12 years depending on whether it is a tank system or tankless. Your hot water system warranty is a telltale sign of how long it will last.
But like everything else, nothing lasts forever. Normal wear and tear, old age, underlying issues and how you take care of it play a part in your tank's life span.
The crucial key player is you. You can double your hot water system's lifespan. Like having a preventive maintenance service for your car, you can also do it for your hot water system. Have it serviced and maintained on a periodic basis. And don't ignore issues as they happen, no matter how trivial you think it is.
Have a professional perform a maintenance flush on a regular basis for sediments, especially if you are in an area with hard water. This will prevent damage from corrosion and won't make your system work harder, lowering its lifespan.
Be consistent with your schedule so you could avoid having to replace your system for a lot longer. Your tender loving care will be worth the investment.
What are the signs your hot water heater is going out?
1. The age of your current tank
If you know your unit is well over 15 years old, expect it to show signs you need to start looking into upgrading a new hot water system.
A professional and licensed plumber will be able to thoroughly inspect your current tank and find a suitable replacement for you and your home or business.
2. Weak or low temperature
If you are in the middle of a shower and your water suddenly goes cold, or the water takes a while to heat up, then you may have an issue with the heating element or faulty thermostat.
Your system's energy source, the size of the tank, and its current condition can affect the efficiency of the heating mechanism.
The average gas unit takes about 30-40 minutes to heat up. An electrical heater takes roughly twice as long. The same goes for a solar system, usually connected to an electrical heater. A cloudy day can affect the heating time as it needs sunrays.
Contact your local plumber for advice on whether you should buy a continuous flow tank, storage water heater, gas or electric hot water unit. They will have the knowledge and experience to help you decide on your new system. They can also make necessary repairs and regular maintenance on your current model.
3. Noisy tank
Banging or hissing sounds could mean trouble from the heating element or a build-up of sediment from the water inside the tank.
A build-up of minerals may start to grow and act like rocks floating inside your unit. When they hit the pipework, you will hear banging or other sounds.
Heating elements may become loose over time, or valves have failed and are not opening and closing as they should.
4. Rusty tank or discoloured water
Leaks in and around your hot water system could be coming from fittings, such as pipework or the valves. Rust and discoloured water are effects of corrosion from a leaking unit.
Annual maintenance of your current water heater is recommended under five years old. This includes flushing and sediment inside the tank.
Ask your trusted plumbing company about regular maintenance of your hot water unit.
5. Low Water Pressure
It's common for hot water units to begin to lose pressure over time. Reasons can vary. There may be blockages or bent water supply lines, or leaks and cracked or broken pipes. Sediment and limescale may have also built up. Or if your household has increased, you could be needing a new tank to keep up with your water usage.
The easiest way to identify low hot water is simply turning on a tap or the shower and only running it hot. If the water coming out is significantly less than your cold water, or than it once was. It's time to have a plumber take a look at your water pressure.
What to consider when replacing your hot water system?
If repairs aren't enough, you may need to replace your hot water system. You can try new models or stick to your old and tested brand.
You need to consider your budget. A hot water system is a big investment, but you could actually save some back on your bill rather than maintain a faulty one, or buy a low-quality one.
You must also think about how much hot water you need, whether to have a water tank or go tankless. Take into account your water usage, property and household size. And consider how energy efficient you want to be. There are advantages and disadvantages for each type and model.
Talk to professionals about what they think would be best. Ask for recommendations. They'll know the latest trends in the market.