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What Is the Expected Lifespan of a Tankless Water Heater?

What Is the Expected Lifespan of a Tankless Water Heater?

Home and business owners throughout North America are making the switch from a traditional tank water heater to a tankless water heater. These newer systems provide many advantages, including a virtually limitless supply of hot water on demand, energy efficiency and longevity. Tankless water heaters do cost more up front regarding both the equipment and installation; and when installing a tankless system for the first time, there can be additional expenses, such as an electrical upgrade. That said, an on-demand water heater will typically pay for itself over time because these systems usually last twice as long or longer than a conventional unit.

Water Heater Lifespan

A traditional tank water heater will last, on average, 12 years. Plumbers generally advise customers to replace their units at around the 12-year mark even if they’re still running. One reason for this is that you’re on borrowed time when it comes to a water heater leak that can potentially lead to serious water damage. Another issue is that a water heater tends to run inefficiently at this point and thus be more expensive to run month to month. You also need to factor in that the new system you purchase will be far more efficient than the unit you bought more than a decade ago.

A tankless water heater will last, on average, 25 years. This is why they can provide a superior return on investment even if you have to pay more for a conversion and an electrical upgrade. Plumbers do recommend proactive replacements when it comes to on-demand water heating systems as well, but there are some notable differences. Leaks are much less of a concern with a tankless system, and if a leak does occur, it will be relatively minor and isolated. That means that if you have your tankless system serviced at the 25-year mark and it’s still operating efficiently, you can continue to use it and squeeze more value out of the unit without the risk that doing so can lead to much bigger problems.

Manufacturer Warranty

Expected lifespans for equipment, like tankless water heaters, are estimates. In fact, there are many factors that will determine how long your system actually lasts. Ensuring long water heater life starts with the product you choose. Do your research. Lean on the professional advice from a plumber. Choose a trusted brand and a proven system. A strong manufacturer warranty will help protect you against getting unlucky, and it indicates how much the manufacturer is willing to stand behind the product. Warranties in the 12-to-15-year range are not unusual, and the best warranties currently available will protect you from 20-25 years.

Installation Location

The installation location matters, and you’ll almost always want to install your unit inside the home or building in order to protect it from the elements. A tankless water heater requires proper venting and should preferably be positioned as close as possible to the areas of heaviest use. One of the advantages of a tankless system is the smaller footprint which allows you to install it practically anywhere. It may seem convenient to install the system in an attic, crawl space or garage, but doing so can actually cause the system to work harder and thus diminish its expected lifespan. Ideally, you should install the system in the living space, such as a water heater closet, so that it benefits from climate control.

Annual Maintenance

While routine maintenance is recommended for a tank water heater, many home and business owners take a break-fix approach to their systems. Experts strongly discourage you from taking this approach with an on-demand system for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is that many manufacturer warranties require annual maintenance, and if you ever need to make a warranty claim, you may need to show proof that you had that service performed.

Plumbers also recommend annual maintenance because an on-demand water heater is a much more complex system than a traditional water heater, and your system may only last 15 years or less if you just ignore it until there’s a problem. Tankless systems need to be descaled. There is a water filter that needs to be replaced, and all of the plumbing and electrical connections need to be tested and tightened or replaced as needed. The system also needs to be recalibrated, and this annual maintenance will extend the life of your equipment and therefore pay for itself over time.

Hard Water

Hard water is the top concern when it comes to tankless water heater longevity. The minerals in the water accumulate in the tank and create resistance and pressure that causes the system to work harder and therefore succumb to more wear and tear. Descaling is a primary reason that you want to have your system serviced once a year, and depending on the hardness of your water, it may be recommended that you have your system descaled twice a year. The preferable option for a home or business with hard or extremely hard water is to install a water softening system which will not only protect your water heater but other appliances, too.

Point-of-Entry Water Filtration

Upgrading to a tankless water heater is an investment in your home or business, and consider expanding that investment to include a point-of-entry water filtration system. Your filtration system can incorporate any water softening that you require. It can also filter chlorine and a wide range of other impurities that can diminish the lifespan of your water heater and other appliances. Whole-house/building water filtration will not only extend the life of your water heater but provide many other benefits as well. This includes water that tastes better and water that improves skin and hair health.

As-Needed Service Appointments

You should also call a plumber to service your water heater at any sign of trouble. Modern units often have digital displays that will provide you an error code that you can look up in the manual or online. In some cases, you’ll just need to reset the unit. If you find yourself resetting it often, however, then there’s a problem that requires a professional to diagnose and fix. You should also schedule a repair if your system shuts off intermittently, water temperatures are inconsistent, you notice a drop in hot water pressure or you see any moisture near the system.

Certified Plumbing Services in Sacramento

When you need a tankless water heater installed, replaced, serviced or repaired, turn to the professionals at Crystal Blue Heating & Air. We are a family-owned and -operated company that has served Sacramento and the surrounding areas for more than 40 years. Our company provides a full range of residential and commercial plumbing services. Homeowners and businesses throughout the region also count on us for heating, air conditioning, ventilation and indoor air quality as well as for equipment installation, maintenance and repair services. Call Crystal Blue Heating & Air today to schedule an appointment or ask any questions about the services and products we offer.