5 Ways to Make Your Water Heater Last Longer


What is the life span of a typical water heater? Most standard water heaters last between eight and fifteen years. Most water heater tanks are steel, but they are lined with glass or porcelain. As the water heater ages they oxidize and deteriorate.

Over time, most water heater tanks eventually leak. Most often, it starts out as a slow leak. In some cases, it will be a more dramatic leak. It is always a good idea to know where the water shutoff valve is located.

Although it is not common, there are homeowners across the United States that will see twenty years of useful life from their water heater. It is important to keep in mind, that although a water heater may still be working, most water heaters decrease in efficiency over time as sediment builds up inside the water tank.  

When it comes to tankless water heaters, they can last two to three times longer than a traditional tank type model as long as the tankless water heater is taken care of properly.

5 Specific Ways to Prolong the Life of a Water Heater


1. Install a Second Anode Rod

Installing another anode rod will greatly increase the life of your water heater.  The anode rod is a sacrificial rod made of magnesium or aluminum that undergoes galvanic corrosion. The rod sacrifices itself and thereby prevents corrosion of the tank.

2. Install an Expansion Tank

Expansion tank: If you are on a closed system, installing an expansion tank can potentially double the life of your water heater.  When water is heated from 50º to 120º, it expands by approximately 2% (a 50 gallon tank will produce 1 gallon of additional volume). If your system is closed (which means there is a valve which prevents your water from back flowing into the water main), this water has no where to go and because water is not a compressible, it will cause rapid increases and decreases in water pressure. This expanding and contracting causes stress on both your water heater and your plumbing system which can cause damage and premature failure. This constant expansion and contraction also places more pressure on the water lines. This is why you may be experiencing small bursts of pressure from time to time while taking a hot shower.

Installing an expansion will alleviate the water pressure on your system and make your water heater last longer.

3. Flush Out the Water Heater Tank Once a Year

When it comes to older water heaters, flushing the tank out annually can prevent sediment buildup and maintain higher efficiency of your water heater. Many newer model water heaters are self cleaning, this one option will help make your water heater last longer.

4. Install a Pressure Regulator Valve (PVR)

If there is high water pressure (above 90 PSI), it can damage your plumbing appliances and can also cause your water heater to fail prematurely. By installing a pressure regulating valve, the plumbing system pressure is reduced; this also reduces wear and tear on all other appliances.  Keep in mind, if a pressure regulator valve is installed, it is also a good idea to install an expansion tank.

5. Install a Water Softener

In some areas of the United States, such as southern California and other areas in the Southwestern United States, there is very high mineral content in the water. This is often referred to as “hard water”.  Hard water causes scaling. Scaling is a precipitation of minerals which deposits onto surfaces of the water heater.  This scaling can drastically reduce the life of a water heater.  In many cases, installing a water softener can help reduce wear and tear on the plumbing system due to hard water. When it comes to a tankless water heater, it is almost essential to install a water softener. Since tankless water heaters tend to be a more expensive investment up front, it is an absolute no brainer to protect the investment with  good water softener.

If you have any questions or comments on water heaters, it is always a wise choice to call on the plumbing professionals at Best Plumbers® 

February 25, 2014 |
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