Hot water is a necessity in any home. We use it to bathe and cook, but also to wash our clothes and dishes, keep our pets happy and clean, and more. A reliable water heater is something many homeowners take for granted — until it stops working. If you’re debating whether or not to replace your hot water heater, here are some things to think about.

How Long Does a Hot Water Heater Last?

Conventional tank water heaters — both gas and electric — have an average lifespan of between 10-15 years, depending on the quality of the unit and its size. The biggest point of failure for these systems is their tanks, which can rust out if not properly maintained.

Tankless water heaters, on the other hand, can generally be counted on to last longer. A typical unit may have a lifespan of 20 years or more, provided that it is maintained in good condition and serviced regularly.

Signs of Failure

There are several telltale signs your water heater is on its last legs. Besides the obvious one — a sudden lack of hot water — other things to look out for include:

  • Performance issues. Internal corrosion and other issues can lead to diminished heater performance, making it take longer to achieve the desired water temperature.
  • Leaking. Leaking tanks can be caused by rust accumulation along the unit’s seams, joints or threads.
  • Noise. Over time, sediment will build up and harden in your tank, causing a banging noise when the unit is heating up.
  • Discoloration. Rust-colored water may be the result of a failing tank, or a problem with your pipes.
  • Pilot light problems. Aging gas units may experience valve failure that can make it difficult for the pilot light to stay lit.

Why Replace a Water Heater?

Even if your water heater still works, there may be benefits to replacing it with a newer, more advanced unit. Today’s water heaters — particularly tankless systems, but also more conventional units as well — are more efficient, more reliable and more economical to run on a day-to-day basis than those of a generation ago. If your current water heater is more than ten years old, it may be worth it to start thinking about upgrading before it breaks down and inconveniences your family.

If you’re concerned about your water heater or if you would like to explore your options for replacement, get in touch with a Foster Fuels representative today. We’d be happy to assess the state of your current unit and suggest options for upgrading or replacing that will save you money.

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