3 Signs Your Water Heater Is Past Its Expiration Date

A water heater is used every day but kept well out of sight. It’s easy to forget about its value until you notice a ceiling leak, a lack of hot water or a high water bill. Review the following three signs that your water heater is worn out and may need to be replaced.


Leaks are a sign of a well-damaged water heater that needs replacing. One common cause is the continuous buildup of sediment at the bottom of the tank or valves that are damaged after decades of wear and tear. A water heater leak usually starts small, but so do most disasters. Never ignore any leak coming from your ceiling or wall, no matter how small it is. There may be a bigger leak in the attic that you’ve not seen yet. Wet spots are ideal places for the growth of mold and bacteria that can be hazardous to your health.

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The old age of your water heater is a sign that it’s past its due date. A gas- or electric-powered water heater lasts 10 to 15 years without regular maintenance. With maintenance, your heater can last an additional five to 10 years. A plumbing expert will suggest when it’s time to get a new water heater installation. Some heaters last 10 years longer than its average lifespan. Age is an important indicator in many cases, but the condition is a more helpful factor to consider.

Exterior Condition

The routine maintenance of a water heater is highly recommended but not required. Most homeowners decide to bypass this task to save time, money and energy. They wait until a catastrophe occurs, such as a massive leak or a complete breakdown of the heater, before they act. During a maintenance checkup is when the homeowner knows that there’s something wrong with the water heater. The plumber looks for external damages, such as cracks, holes or burns, that indicate a greater internal problem. After one or two decades of constant use, your tank will develop one or two obvious signs of irreversible damage.

Every product has an expiration date to show that it’s too old and worn down to work properly anymore. Your water heater does not come with an explicitly written date to show that it needs replacing, so you must use your best judgement. At some point, a new installation is necessary if you want to make the most of your water heating system.

Lizzie W: Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and walks in the park with her three-year-old husky, Snowball. You can find her on Twitter @LizzieWeakley.

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