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Water Heater’s Age: How Old Is Too Old?

A home’s water heater is right up there with its HVAC system and the stove and refrigerator in the kitchen for making a modern home so livable and convenient. You depend on it to wash dishes after a meal and for that invigorating shower to get you going in the morning. This makes its age and condition of utmost importance to you and your family.

The Life Span of Water Heaters

Whether you call it an appliance or a plumbing fixture, a water heater is almost as important as the flow of water itself into your home. Nobody wants a cold shower, so it’s critical that it does its job. You also don’t want a sudden spike in your energy bills, which can happen as this appliance ages and becomes less efficient.

How long does a water heater last? To a certain extent, this is an imprecise question. After all, are we talking about how long it lasts overall or how long it lasts until it becomes so inefficient that the cost of a replacement would be far outweighed by its energy savings?

Generally, a water heater will last about 12 years give or take a few years. During its first five years, you should have no maintenance or inefficiency issues at all. After this time, the odds go up that it will fail or start using more energy to heat your water.

How Old Is Your Water Heater?

You might have no idea how old your water heater is. Homebuyers are probably more likely to ask about its age when looking at a home since they know they’ll be out the money for a replacement when it dies. If you’re renting, it’s something the landlord handles, so you might not even ask such a question. For most of us, the current unit was there when we moved in, and all we know about it is that it’s been providing hot water fairly decently for the time we’ve lived there.

If you are curious, it is possible to find out your particular unit’s age. All water heaters come with a manufacturer’s rating plate on them. One of the stats this will contain will be this particular unit’s manufacturing date. It may not be as simple as a “month/year” format. Some manufacturers use their own coding, but you should be able to see the name of the manufacturer and then look online to see their dating system. Alternatively, you can simply get the serial number off the unit and enter it in the applicable place on their website to get this date.

When to Replace It

Alright, I know how old it is. Now, what do I do? One answer to this might be to do nothing. If it’s a home you moved into fairly recently and the hot water heater is less than six or seven years old, you’re probably in good shape. That being said, if you’ve been there a couple of years and you know it has never been looked at by a professional for a maintenance check, you might want to line up an appointment for that.

Upon checking the date on your water heater, you may find its age is getting up in that territory where failure or inefficient operation is getting more likely. To detect the latter, you should keep an eye on your energy bill. Any spikes in it that you can’t attribute to anything else could be due to the water heater straining to do its job. Another sign of a unit that’s going downhill is that it is simply not supplying as much hot water on a steady basis as it used to.

There is always the question of repair versus replacement. Honestly, if it’s anywhere near a decade old, you’re probably better off just getting a new one. Otherwise, you are paying a repair bill but will still have a 10 or more year old water heater in your home. This course of action is particularly wise if you know you’ll be staying in that home for years to come. You know you’ll be enjoying the energy efficiency benefits of a new unit plus making a good investment in your home.

Professional Water Heater Repairs and Installations

For families in the Germantown, Tennessee area, our team at River City Plumbing can see to all your water heater maintenance, repair and replacement needs. Our master plumbers will examine your unit and correctly diagnose any problems with it and then recommend the best course of action.

Typically, if your unit is getting up there in age, we will recommend a replacement. Even If your current water heater might still last another couple of years, an old unit simply will not be operating at the efficiency level of a new one. This means you’ll probably be saving money by having a new one installed. If your water heater or any other plumbing in your home is acting up, please give us a call, and we’ll make the right recommendation that will save you money in the end.

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