How Long Should A Water Heater Last?

Water heaters don’t last forever. There will come a day when you must replace the unit that is currently in your San Antonio, TX, home. However, there are multiple maintenance tasks you can carry out to stretch the lifespan of your water heater. Learning how to make your unit last longer will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Traditional Heater With a Tank

Water heaters with a tank use a heating mechanism located at the base of the tank to heat the water. As the water gets hotter, it rises to the top of the tank. A pipe carries the heated water to a hot water faucet once someone turns on the tap.

When the water heater is not in use, the water stays heated in the tank. The inside of the water heater features several layers, including an inner layer that can store up to 40 gallons of water and insulated outer and top layers. These insulated layers keep the water hot.

Tankless Water Heater

Tankless water heaters provide on-demand hot water without storing it in a tank. Cold water makes its way through the unit, and a heat exchange process warms it up. Some tankless models work with natural gas and electricity, while others use only electricity.

Regardless of the power supply, most tankless heaters perform better than conventional models from an energy-efficiency perspective. For homes that tend to use less than 41 gallons of water each day, tankless models can reduce energy use by up to 34%. These heaters are small and compact, taking up less space than models with a conventional tank. And since there’s no need to store water in a tank, there’s a much smaller chance of a leak.

From a pricing standpoint, tankless water heaters are usually more expensive upfront. Their ability to reduce your monthly water bills means they end up making up for the cost difference. These models also tend to last longer than conventional water heaters with a tank.

Solar Water Heater

Solar hot water heaters use the thermal energy of the sun to heat water. This type of water heating system typically has three major components: a solar collector, insulated piping, and a hot water storage tank. The insulated pipes connect the solar collector, often installed on the roof and angled toward the south, to the tank. This solar collector has fluid in it that absorbs heat from the sun. The fluid then flows through a heat exchanger, heats the water, and then flows back to the collector.

There are two primary types of solar water heating systems: passive and active. The active types use pumps, valves, and controllers as part of the water heating process. Passive versions do not. Instead, they make use of natural circulation. These systems are usually easier to install than active versions, but they can be less efficient.

Solar water heaters work exceptionally well in homes that need an efficient way to meet high demands for hot water. Many experts agree that you can save anywhere from $10 to $15 a month on water bills with a solar water heater. Over the course of a year, this can translate into savings of up to $180.

How Long Does Each Type Usually Last?

With regular care and maintenance, traditional water heaters with storage tanks can last for up to 15 years. Those without a tank tend to last quite a bit longer, with their average life spans usually exceeding 20 years. One of the main reasons that tankless units last longer is because they don’t have as many parts and feature a simpler design.

Solar water heaters have a much longer life span than traditional water heaters, too. If you schedule regular maintenance for them and stay on top of any required upkeep, they can last for 20 years or longer.

Choosing the Right Water Heater for Your Home

Selecting the right water heater for your home depends on how much hot water you use, your home’s layout, and any budgetary concerns you have in place. Homes that have limited space but still want an energy-efficient water heating system can benefit from a tankless model.

In homes with ample space, a newer traditional model with high efficiency ratings might work better. One drawback of tank models is that they can run out of hot water if you exceed the tank’s capacity. This can result in extended wait times during the reheating phase.

Solar water heaters work great for those seeking an eco-friendly way to reduce their home’s carbon footprint while still having access to hot water around the clock. You’ll just need to make sure your home has adequate exposure to sunlight. Solar water heaters in homes that experience a lot of cloudy days may not be able to keep up with your hot water demands.

The best way to select the right water heater is to speak with a qualified professional. An expert can assess the size of your household, your hot water usage patterns, and the available space for installation. This person can also account for any local climate patterns that affect choosing a hot water heater, like extreme temperatures or variations in water quality.

Ways to Help Your Water Heater Last Longer

Thankfully, no matter what type of water heater you install in your home, there are several proactive steps you can take to help it last longer. For water heaters with tanks, regular flushing is key to removing sediment buildup and extending their lifespan. You may also find it helpful to install a water softener to minimize mineral deposits.

Tankless water heaters require regular flushing too. Both types also need proper ventilation to function correctly. Solar water heaters require cleaning of the solar panels periodically. By removing dirt and debris that accumulates on the panels, it becomes easier for them to absorb sunlight. The solar panels may also need protection against freezing temperatures, depending on where you live.

Scheduling Annual Maintenance

The easiest way to take care of your water heater is to have a professional provide routine maintenance during an annual appointment. During this process, the expert can check the anode rod in the heater as well as flush out any sediment buildup. The quality of water in your home and your usage patterns will greatly impact anode rod replacements and how long your tank will last.

The longer you go without flushing the heater, the more it will corrode and rust. The more corrosion it has, the more likely it is to leak. An expert will check for signs of corrosion and leaks during annual maintenance inspections. Your technician will also test the thermostat and any valves on the unit to ensure they function correctly. Cleaning the air intake vents is the last step in the yearly maintenance process.

Rosenberg Plumbing & Air helps homeowners in San Antonio with HVAC maintenance, ductwork services, indoor air quality testing, drain cleaning, and more. Contact us today to schedule service.

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