• FAQ Library
  • How long can you expect your water heater to last?

How long can you expect your water heater to last?



Knowing the life expectancy of major appliances and built-in systems can make it easier to anticipate future breakdowns, maintenance work and eventually replacement. Like many built-in systems in the home, we often take little notice of all the benefits a water heater provides until it stops working.

So, how long does a water heater last? The typical range is a good six to 13 years. That’s a pretty big estimation gap, but on average, homeowners typically can expect roughly 12 years of hard work from a newly purchased water heater with proper care and maintenance along the way. Water heater maintenance includes removing settled sediment twice yearly, testing the pressure-relief valve, and reducing the temperature setting to avoid overheating. 

In time, the inevitable will happen, and you’ll likely run into some common issues. Here, we’ll cover some things that can go wrong with your water heater, the warning signs, and when it may be time to replace your old water heater. 


Common water heater issues

  • Low water temperature
  • Leaky water heater pipes
  • Gurgling sounds from the faucet spout

One of the most common issues homeowners might notice is a low water temperature. Maybe the shower isn’t as hot as it once was, or the washing machine’s hot-water cycle runs cold water. If cold showers are getting you down, check your water heater. The problem is typically something like a faulty or worn-down heating element or thermostat. If your home uses a gas water heater, though, check the connection and make sure the pilot light is lit. In some cases, you can simply adjust the temperature setting to a higher setting.  

Another issue might be the water heater leaking. Fortunately, this is a pretty easy issue to resolve. To start, tighten the pipe fittings. If the water heater continues leaking, you can shut off the water-supply valve and replace the worn-out fittings. For the handy person, this can be a straightforward, do-it-yourself kind of job. If you have reservations, though, you’ll want to contact a professional plumber. They’ll have the tools and parts that can resolve the issue right away. 

When turning on the faucet, is the water slowly chugging through the spout, or is there a gurgling or hissing sound? The problem is likely due to mineral deposits and sediment collected at the bottom of the tank. This can cause corrosion on the inside of the water heater tank. Hard water, in particular, can exacerbate the problem and limit the lifespan of your water heater. This is because hard water contains higher levels of dissolved minerals

A telltale sign of hard water is the feeling of soap remaining on the skin after washing or less-than-sparkling dishes after a run through the dishwasher. If you think the issue with your water heater is because of collected sediment, completely drain the water heater tank and clear away the collected gunk by soaking the components in white vinegar. When left untreated, the sediment buildup collected at the bottom of the tank might create excess pressure within the tank and churn out rusty water from faucets, which can affect your water quality. 

If your tank experiences any of these issues or something seems off, reach out to a professional service provider for inspection. With a Built-in Systems or Complete Home warranty plan from Cinch Home Services, all components and parts of your water heater are covered. You can protect your budget and get your water heater up and running fast with quality service.


Signs your water heater will soon go out

The most obvious issue that indicates your water heater is approaching the end of its life is if your tank no longer heats water. This issue can show up in different ways for each household, such as gradually losing hot water during a shower or the inability to run very hot water for household tasks. 

Recurring issues, such as leaking, inconsistent heat and strange noises, are also signs that your hot-water tank might be on the brink of needing replacement. And if regular maintenance throughout its lifespan has been inconsistent, these issues can create a bigger problem.

Regular inspection and maintenance can help homeowners avoid more costly repairs. For instance, the anode rod is an essential component that helps keep your water heater working in top condition. This critical element collects sediment, preventing it from collecting at the bottom of the tank. Unfortunately, neglecting to clean or change this component can lead to sediment buildup and eventually corrosion. Over time, sediment buildup can create added pressure in the tank and cause the tank to burst. As you can imagine, this scenario can create massive water damage and quickly become every homeowner’s worst nightmare.


When to replace your water heater altogether

Even in the best situations, major appliances and built-in systems can break down. There are things you can look for that may indicate it’s time to think about purchasing a new water heater. 

Even normal wear and tear can create issues with your water heater. If it makes sounds or you see rusty water running from your faucet, it’s likely time to say goodbye. This can prove especially true when the unit is over 10 years old. When a water heater has passed its prime, payment for repair costs is like throwing money down the drain. It often makes more sense to replace the water heater altogether. 

When it comes time to replace a worn-out tank, think about your water heater needs and the type of water heater that can meet your demands and offer plenty of long-lasting hot water for your home. Depending on the fuel type in your home, consider whether you need a gas or electric water heater. Both can provide the hot water you need but differ in several areas. 

While an electric water heater can have lower upfront costs, you may accrue higher monthly costs. Compared to gas water heaters, electric models tend to heat water more slowly. Being electric, these types of units are inoperable during a power outage. On the plus side, electric models require less maintenance than gas water tanks. 

For homes fueled by natural gas, a gas water heater quickly heats water. You can also expect lower energy costs and have access to a range of energy-efficient models. Unlike electric water heaters, you can still access hot water during an electric outage. The downside to gas water heaters, though, is a higher initial cost and increased need for maintenance during its lifespan.  

Although they typically come with a higher price tag, many people opt for a tankless water heater. You may hear the terms “tankless” and “demand” water heaters, but these are the same type of built-in system and provide water on an as-needed basis. Other features of tankless models that differ from traditional storage heaters include shorter wait times for hot water and greater energy efficiency.


Skip expensive water heater repair bills with Cinch

Expensive home repair bills are probably one of the last things you want to deal with. Fortunately, you can feel better about unexpected breakdowns and protect your budget with a Cinch home warranty plan

Cinch offers affordable home protection plans backed by a 180-day workmanship guarantee on repairs, making it simple to find the level of protection you need for your home. Cinch’s Built-in Systems plan or Complete Home plan includes water heaters in addition to many other valuable built-in systems, such as plumbing and HVAC systems. 

No matter what plan you decide on, you gain access to guaranteed benefits, including rust and corrosion coverage, protection for unknown pre-existing conditions, and discounts on new brand-name appliances. Get the protection and plan you need with no gimmicks or surprise fees. Cinch makes it easy to get the coverage you need. Request a free quote to get started.


Discover the lifespan of your water heater and learn when it’s best to repair or replace it.