How long does a hot water tank last?

April 14th, 2021

Your trusty old water heater in the basement or utility closet doesn’t usually get a lot of attention until it starts acting up and you start to consider replacing it. As Gatineau’s plumbing experts, we’re often asked these questions:

  • How long do hot water tanks last?
  • What can I do to make my hot water tank last longer?

The good news is that with regular inspections and proper maintenance, you can expect to get a good 8-12 years out of your gas water heater, and even longer from an electric one. If you’re diligent in your maintenance routine, you can avoid pouring money down the drain (literally!) and put off a hefty replacement bill as long as possible.

In this article, we’ll look at how to extend the lifespan of your hot water tank and what’s involved in hot water tank maintenance. If you have questions about your hot water heater, don’t hesitate to reach out. Serving the Gatineau region for over 45 years, we’re always here to help!

How to help your hot water tank last longer?

While there are some things you can look out for on your own (we’ll cover that next), it’s always in your best interest to have a professional in to inspect and perform annual maintenance on your hot water tank. Here are a few of the things that your plumber will do to help get the most out of your hot water tank, both in terms of more hot water and a longer life.

  1. Outer tank inspection

A professional plumber will know what to look for when it comes to leaks, damage, premature aging, or any other signs of trouble with your hot water heater. We’ll look for cracks in the body, leaks and gaps in the joints, and other tell-tale signs that might not be obvious to the untrained eye.

  1. Anode rod measurement

Water + air + metal = the perfect recipe for rust. Hot water tanks are equipped with an anode rod to protect the tank from rusting on the inside. This essential part of your hot water heater should be inspected annually so that the hot water doesn’t start to corrode the inside of your tank. This step of the inspection requires a partial draining of the tank, location and removal of the rod, and a measurement of the calcium coating that is meant to be on the rod.

  1. Temperature pressure-relief valve testing

Another important part of your hot water heater mechanism to test is the temperature pressure-relief valve (TPR). This involves cutting off the cold-water supply, releasing water through the valve, and replacing it if it doesn’t not perform properly.

  1. Gas line and exhaust pipe inspection

Gas lines can corrode and crack, leading to dangerous gas leaks. Your exhaust output pipes can be similarly damaged by cracks and gaps. Having these lines inspected every year by a professional will help you keep your family safe from dangerous natural gas leaks and unsafe carbon monoxide levels in your home.

  1. Flushing the Tank

Partially draining or “flushing” your hot water tank once or even twice a year, is an important part of inspecting your hot water heater. Clear water is a sign of “all things good” and that your system is running efficiently. But if you see debris and dirt, you are likely paying higher energy bills to heat your water and the tank should be completely drained and inspected. It could be the case that a thorough cleaning is all that is needed, but in other instances, muddied water could be a sign of other issues to deal with.

Spend a little, save a lot

The cost of a plumber’s call is easily recouped by being able to keep your hot water tank longer and by paying less for your monthly utility bills. By having your hot water heater inspected and maintained on an annual basis, your trusty tank will keep you warmer and last longer.

If you’re in the Gatineau region and have questions about your hot water heater, or are ready to book your annual maintenance visit, give us a call. We’re here to help!