How long does a water heater last in 2022 – Complete Guide

You must have heard tankless water heaters are energy efficient. The reason why they are energy efficient is that they are extremely sensitive. This sensitivity enables them to perceive when to heat the water and when not to. But it also raises the question. Does being more sensitive mean that they are more prone to defects and hence a lower lifespan?

Today, we are going to answer your question, what is its lifespan? What accounts for the longer lifespan of tankless water heaters? And what factors contribute to its decline in life expectancy?

Water heaters are two major types: Tank (also known as a traditional or conventional water heater) and Tankless Water heaters. Both of these water heaters’ life spans differ from each other significantly. Tank water heaters possess a lifespan of 8-12 years. If tank water heaters exceed it, the water heater is of the best quality, and the owner has taken excellent care of the heater.

On the other hand, a tankless water heater has a lifespan of between 15 and 20 years. A tankless can also exceed 20 years lifespan if properly taken care-off. It is twice the lifespan of a tank water heater.

Why Do Tankless water heaters outperform Conventional water heaters in terms of Lifespan?

1.  Corrosion by water:

It is the most common type of problem in a tank water heater that reduces the lifespan of a tank water heater. As tank water heater store water at all time and keep heating it. So, they are susceptible to water corrosion due to being in contact 24/7. This happens because a tank water heater is made of steel and can Corrode easily.

To resolve this, the tank water heater comes with an anode rod, which attracts these corrosive particles and sacrifices itself to protect the tank. With time, the anode rod will deplete against these corrosive particles. It must be replaced to ensure proper operation of the tank water heater.

In contrast, the tankless water heater doesn’t store water hence is not in contact 24/7. This makes it less susceptible to corrosion. It usually happens around the last years of tankless water heater, which is 18-20 years.

2.  No Explosions or Flooding:

Although rarely, a tank water heater does run the risk of explosion or flooding. This is because tank water heaters store and then heat the water 24/7. This water, when heated up, exerts pressure on the walls of the tank water heater. You need to keep a check on the pressure value as, under extreme pressure, it runs the risk of explosion or flooding. This is not the case with a tankless water heater as it heats water on-demand, so neither it explodes nor floods as it doesn’t store water.

3.  Replaceable parts

A tank water heater has a limited number of replaceable parts like an anode rod. It also means that in case of any part failure, only limited ones are available for replacement. If a part which the replacement is unavailable fails to work, you may have to buy a new water heater unit.

Unlike a tank water heater, a tankless water heater has many parts that can be replaced and are available for the owner to purchase and replace. If a part fails to function, you can just replace it. As a result, the tankless water heater’s lifespan is increased.

Which factors can decrease the life of a tankless water heater?

1.  Hard water

Mostly, the thing that severely damages the lifespan of a tankless water heater is scalp accumulation in the tankless unit. This is due to hard water in which minerals are in the water in dissolved form. When the tankless water heater heats the water, its minerals are separated and deposited in the tankless unit in the heat exchanger. 

Tankless water heaters being extremely sensitive, can stop performing their function if the scalp is left unattended for a longer period of time. That’s why homeowners should do their unit maintenance once a year. You install a water softener system, you can reduce the frequency of maintenance. This system will turn the hard water into soft water; hence the scalp accumulation in the unit will decrease, and you would only need to do maintenance once in 2-3 years.

2. More than Normal Use

Just like a tank water heater, a tankless also comes in different sizes and capacities. Every model has a certain capacity that it can work best at and a maximum capacity. When the owner exceeds this capacity, they are basically pushing the tankless unit to work harder. It is not much of an issue as long as you don’t exceed the maximum capacity repeatedly. But it can be detrimental for your tankless unit if you haven’t flushed/cleaned it for a long time. Exceeding the maximum capacity doesn’t do much other than not being able to give hot water of your desired temperature. However, it can aggravate the damage done by the scalp buildup, which may result in serious damage to your unit’s lifespan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is tankless water heater installation so expensive?

Tankless water heater installations are expensive due to their on-demand function. They heat water only when it is required using the on-demand function. Whereas, to bring the water to the desired temperature quickly, they need greater power. This power can not be provided by using the already installed household installations. For a gas tankless water heater, gas pipelines need to be upgraded from 40,000 BTU to 200,000 BTU. While for an electric tankless water heater, they require an upgrade from 100 AMP to 200 AMP in order to work properly.

Can you take a shower with a tankless water heater?

You can easily take a shower with a tankless water heater. To give a complete answer, you need to concentrate on the capacity of your tankless water heater. A tankless water heater comes with a variety of capacities. This capacity tells you how much hot water you can get out of your tankless unit at a time.
Household Fixture Flow Rate
Shower 1.5-3 Gallons per minute
Faucet 2.5 Gallons per minute
Toilet 2-3 Gallons Per minute
Dishwasher 2-4 Gallons per minute
Kitchen 2-3 Gallons per minute
Clothes Washer 3-5 Gallons per minute
For uninterrupted use, your tankless water heater capacity must exceed the flow rate of the household fixture.


Why would a tankless water heater stop work?

If you own a tankless water heater, you may have to face situations where your tankless water heater stops working. But it doesn’t mean that there is a fault in the tankless water heater. A tankless water heater can stop working due to following reasons.
1. Water is drawn at less than the minimum flow rate
2. Exceeding the maximum capacity of a tankless unit
3. Insufficient power being supplied to the unit
In the above cases, you can solve the issue by taking proper care.
1. Not doing maintenance for many years
2. Damaged parts needing replacement
3. Wear and tear due to old age of tankless unit

Conclusion

To summarize, the lifespan of a tankless water heater is roughly double that of a conventional tank water heater. It can also exceed it, but there is a condition. The condition is to take appropriate care of your tankless water heater and keep up with the maintenance plan to get the most lifespan.


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