Experts opinion on possible water heater longevity

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by Sarg, Feb 9, 2021.

  1. Sarg

    Sarg Enjoy Learning

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2020
    Occupation:
    Recently retired
    Location:
    NorthEast
    May I ask the opinion of the experienced ?
    Primarily concerning the electric heaters ...... If the heater is serviced yearly ... meaning the tank is thoroughly flushed ( wet vac through bottom element hole ) and the anode rod is changed when it begins to show signs of deterioration so the tank doesn't get a chance to start the rust cycle ........ How long would you estimate the tank would last ?
    I guess I'm asking to determine if the maintenance efforts have a definite pay back in longevity or are the tanks "doomed" after a certain period of usage.
     
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    I think it must be a matter of water. I expect over 30 years, but in some areas they expect 10 or 15. The handling of the WH may l have a significant impact too, if we imagine cracking the glass lining. Also, if you need a thermal expansion tank, and lack a working thermal expansion tank, that has got to have a negative effect -- imagining the effect of expansion due to pressure on the glass lining. A bigger than normal thermal expansion tank would seem to help limit the overpressures.

    How much does the 20 psi variation in water pressure with a typical well system impact this, I wonder. That swing would be much less than a system that needs a thermal expansion tank (due to a check valve on the supply and does not have a working thermal expansion tank.

    If you see a water heater out on trash day, take a photo of the label that would have the date code. You might get an idea that way. It would be nice if some high school or college could take this on as a research project.

    In areas where they enforce getting a permit to change water heaters, some people put the WH out with somebody else's trash. That would not interfere with your survey, unless the homeowner thought you were the one doing fly dumping. If you get some data points, post them.

    Also, I think that a good anode is more important if you have a water softener. The great majority of people get water heaters changed due to a leak, rather than having its performance lower due to hardness deposits.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2021
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  4. fitter30

    fitter30 Well-Known Member

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    Feb 2, 2020
    Occupation:
    Retired service tech
    Location:
    Peace valley missouri
    Rheem Marathon water heater warranted leak free to the original owner life time
     
  5. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2009
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    Retired
    Location:
    Orlando, Florida
    How long is nearly impossible to figure how long but there are a few things that will shorten the life of any water heater. If you ask about the anode rod, half will say change it, the other half leave it alone.

    I've had three homes with gas water heaters, and two with electric. I'll take electric over gas. It's really two things that kill a water heater, sediment in gas units or leaks on either. Electric water heaters do not have sediment accumulation like a gas unit but depending on the water it is possible to get sidement. It would be a long time before the lower heating element be buried in sediment. Flushing may help with efficiency but it will not prevent a leak. Water heater leaks occur usually at the welded connections at the fittings. Having a good anode rod does not guarantee that the tank won't leak. There seems to be a lot of opinions if changing an anode out is worth the hassle. My first house with an electric heated lasted ten years and died from a leak and I did flush it once and nothing but clean water came out. I replaced it and when I sold the house 16 years later it was still good. I only flushed it once when I had to remove the heater to fix a water leak in the wall. The anode rod was never changed. My current home was built in 2008 and still has the same 50 gal electric AO Smith unit. No anode rod change or flush.

    The biggest killer of water heaters today is water pressure. All manufactures now require expansion tanks to be installed to keep the warranty. Most water companies have been installing backflow preventers at the meter so when the cold water is heated and expands, there is no place for the water to expand to but to raise its pressure. One night I read 125 PSI on my spigot and I know there is a backflow preventer at the meter. Cycling of this kind of pressure can stress the tank. My WH is in the garage so a leak will do no damage. I used to sell WH at Sears in Syracuse, NY (87-89) and the water there is very cold lake Huron water, somewhere in the 40 degree range during the winter months. Almost everyone came in for a new WH stated they heard a huge bang in the basement and water was gushing out of it. I'm sure it was pressure that blew it.

    For electric WH's occasionally a heating element will burn out or a thermostat go bad. Both can be bought everywhere and very inexpensive.

    If you are want a WH that will probably never have leak issues, no an anode rod is Rheem Marathon. https://www.rheem.com/product/marat...ater-with-limited-lifetime-warranty-msr50245c

    I hope I answer any of your concerns. For the most part, a standard electric water heater once installed can be almost forgotten about. We had a few posts here on this forum where a homeowner decided to change the anode rod as a maintenance item and end up with other problems.
     
  6. Sarg

    Sarg Enjoy Learning

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2020
    Occupation:
    Recently retired
    Location:
    NorthEast
    Thank you for your insights.
    There is no substitute for practical experience.
    It does become confusing for the novice.
     
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