Hot water heater, replace based on age alone?

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by Austin83, Nov 22, 2012.

  1. Austin83

    Austin83 New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    Texas
    We have two 50 gallon hot water heaters (electric), one was replaced in 09, and the other one is a 03 model, and the 03 one just quit working today. We have a home warranty that came with this home, and I will use it to get it fixed, but is there a point where the heater should be replaced due to age and probability of failure? I plan on asking the plumber if there is any chance that it can be replaced instead of fixed just based on its age, but I'm not too optimistic since it isn't leaking (yet). Any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated.
  2. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
    3,246
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    We don't see many electric tanks, but when we do they are often over 20 years old. IMO, the tanks tend to last longer because they are not subjected to the heating/cooling cycles of a gas burner model.

    I tend to think of an appliance a bit like I do an automobile. There is a time to fix it and a time to replace it. It's not always clear when a good time to replace it might be, as the new stuff is generally not of the same quality of the older stuff.
  3. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    We could make a case to replace a gas WH on age. ( What age.....$64 question.. but it is debatable). Electrics...I would be hard pressed to recommend just on age.
  4. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,982
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Why the pleonasm? If the water is already hot, it doesn't need to be heated. A gas cold water heater does not withstand age as well as an electric one. Good luck getting a replacement under the home warranty.
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,013
    Location:
    New England
    They can last a long time. Some places, like in multi-level condominiums or maybe an apartment house, they may dicate changing them based on age to limit liability to others if one did leak. Depending on how catastropic it would be if it leaked, you may want to consider replacing it, but otherwise, often, you just wait until it starts to leak.
  6. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,349
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    I was going to ask where I could buy a hot water heater, but I won't 'cause that would make me a smartass. Well, I am, so there. Just in fun
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,636
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    I only replace water heaters when the start leaking. Until that point there is no way to tell if they will last one week or ten years. As for the "If the water is already hot, it doesn't need to be heated", it is only "cold water" until its temperature is raised a couple of degrees, at that point it becomes "tepid" water, then warm water, and finally "hot water" but it can be "hot water" and still need heating, if you want "scalding water", or until it reaches the thermostat's setting so there is no way to tell WHAT kind of water it is heating without measuring its temperature. Therefore, you can call it any kind of water heater you want to, i.e., cold water heater, tepid water heater, warm water heat, hot water heater, or scalding water heater. If you have the last one you should be careful when you turn the water on at a faucet. In this area, a gas heater will USUALLY outlast an electric one by several years, but since it is a function of usage, there is no given as to when either will fail. EVERY supply house has a scrap yard full of gas AND electric heaters which have started leaking during the 6 year warranty period.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012
  8. JMingrone

    JMingrone New Member

    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I've had natural gas water heaters in both houses i've owned and the rental property I've owned for 34 years. Average life? 6 years. Mine are in the basement, so no real danger in just wait'n for the tenant to call saying there's no hot water. Last time I sprang for the 12 YEAR WARRANTY model. Guess what? 6 years. Ever think that manufacturer's make them all the same and that the premium you pay is just an "insurance premium"?
  9. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,349
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    We not only "think" that, that is exactly correct. Extended warranties are a huge rip off.
  10. JMingrone

    JMingrone New Member

    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Didn't purchase an extended warranty (never have, never will). The unit I bought was ADVERTISED as a 12 year unit, i.e. the box was labeled as such. At any rate, I only buy the 6-year units now.
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