There is a lot to think about when installing a new water heater. Energy efficiency and cost are both important factors, but you should also consider how long your new unit may last so you can get the most out of your money. With this in mind, let’s look at the typical lifespans for the different types of water heaters and how an annual maintenance plan can maximize the longevity of your unit.

Average Life Expectancy for New Water Heaters

The lifespan of any water heater depends largely on what type of unit it is. The lifespan of a tank water heater will almost always be quite a bit shorter compared to a tankless unit. The average lifespan of a tank water heater powered by gas is typically around eight to 12 years, while the lifespan of an electric tank unit is usually 12 to 15 years. Most gas or electric tankless water heaters should last 20 years, and some units can have a lifespan of 30 years or more.

If your home has radiant heating, you can install a combi boiler. A combi boiler is a tankless unit that supplies hot water to your plumbing and radiant heating systems. Since a combi boiler also works to heat the home in the winter, it typically won’t last as long as a standard tankless water heater. In most cases, a new combi boiler will work effectively for between 10 and 15 years.

Another option is an electric heat pump water heater. These units are much more energy efficient than any other electric water heater because they don’t directly convert electricity into heat. Instead, the electricity powers a heat transfer process that captures heat from the air around the unit using refrigerant and transfers this heat to keep the water inside the unit’s tank hot. Heat pump water heaters typically last 10 to 15 years, similar to a standard electric tank unit.

How Annual Maintenance Can Improve the Lifespan of Your Water Heater

All water heaters require regular maintenance to function effectively. A water heater’s lifespan may be cut in half without proper professional maintenance. One of the most essential parts of caring for any tank water heater is flushing the unit to remove all the sediment that naturally forms inside its tank.

If the tank isn’t flushed out at least once a year, the sediment will interfere with the unit’s ability to heat effectively. This leads to higher energy costs and more wear and tear. When the unit is heating, hot spots often form in the sediment layer that can weaken the steel tank or cause it to corrode more quickly. When this occurs, the unit may eventually develop a significant leak that will force you to replace it.

Another crucial part of maintaining tank water heaters is draining the unit and checking the condition of the anode rod. The anode rod prevents the steel tank from corroding. Dissolved calcium and magnesium molecules are always present in your water supply. When the water is heated, these minerals react with other metals, leading to rust and corrosion.

The anode rod is a long steel cable coated with zinc, aluminum, or magnesium that helps to prevent minerals from corroding the tank. The coating is much more reactive than the steel tank, which means that the minerals will react with and corrode the coating on the anode rod instead of eating away at the tank. The minerals constantly eat away at the coating on the anode rod until it’s completely gone. If the anode rod isn’t replaced every three to five years, the water heater won’t last nearly as long because the tank will eventually begin to corrode and start leaking.

Tankless water heaters should also be flushed and cleaned at least once a year. Doing this eliminates the mineral deposits that naturally form on the unit’s heat exchanger. When the heat exchanger is coated in a thick layer of mineral deposits, your water may not reach your desired temperature.

Medcalf Heating & Cooling is your top choice for water heater installation, maintenance, and repairs in Terre Haute and the surrounding areas. We offer a wide selection of new water heaters and boilers, and financing for your new unit is also available upon approved credit. In addition to water heaters and boilers, our team of experts specializes in HVAC repair, installation, and maintenance. Protect your investment and extend the longevity of your water heater with our annual maintenance program. Contact Medcalf Heating & Cooling today to schedule a consultation to learn which type of water heater is best for your home!

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