What’s Your Hot Water Heater’s Expiration Date?

Hot water is one of those things we take for granted. Open the tap, wait a bit, hot water.

Until you don’t have it.

Hot water heaters are easy to forget about. They’re generally located somewhere out of the way and they generally work. However, nothing works forever.

Warranties on hot water heaters range from six to ten years. Depending on your water quality and how well you take care of it, ten years is a very reasonable life expectancy. If yours has been going for 15 years, be prepared for it to fail – spectacularly.

Some common signs, other than age, your hot water heater needs attention:

It takes longer than “normal” for hot water to come out of the tap.

Turning up the thermostat is the obvious fix. Keep in mind, though, that the thermostat only goes so high, and you are paying for the extra gas or electricity going into the tank. The good news is that the problem could be with the thermostat and not the tank itself – a much cheaper fix.

Rust on the tank, inlet or outlet pipes, or in your water.

Rust may not be a problem with your tank, currently, however it is something to call the plumber for. If there is rust in your water but not visible on or around the tank, it may be a more generic plumbing problem. ·

Strange noises.

Old or faulty appliances tend to make new and different noises. Noise can be caused by sediment buildup, in which case flushing out the tank ought to do the trick. If not, call in the pros.


Leaks are bad news. Moisture around the bottom of your tank could be coming from the inlet, outlet, or a hole that is not supposed to be there. If you notice water around your tank, call a plumber. Slow leaks can cause just as much, if not more, damage as a sudden failure – however, your insurance may not cover the damage because you could have done something about it. .

Around the House Trivia

Not all construction requires installation of a pan with a hot water heater. Aside from catching small leaks, pans help divert water to a “desirable” dump site in case of catastrophic failure. It is better to have a wet garage slab than soaked carpet, especially if your heater decides to fail while you’re on vacation.

Around the House Easy Fix

Keep doors, windows, and blinds closed during the day.
Bar-be-que to keep from using the oven or stove.
Get rid of the last of your incandescent light bulbs – they create heat as much as light.

When the heat breaks in the evenings, open everything up and run all your fans. Your bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans will pull heat along with smoke and odors.If you want to go the extra mile, blowing a fan across a bowl of frozen ice packs can do wonders for cooling a room.