If you own a home, you own a water heater tank (tankless water heaters will not be addressed in this article). At some point your water tank will need to be replaced. Do you know how long you've had yours? Let's take a look at when you should replace your water heater tank and optional maintenance you can perform.
Most water heater tanks last 8-10 years and before needing to be replaced. Not sure how old your tank is? Look at the serial number and it will give you some insight on the manufacturer's date. For example, if the serial number starts with a "F", it's likely the tank was manufactured in February. Then, look at the first 2 numerical digits. These will provide the year the tank was manufactured. If "10" displays after the "F", then the tank is from 2010 and you should consider replacing it.
There are a variety of ways you can maintain your hot water tank including looking at the anode rod annually. This rod is designed to corrode so your tank doesn't. To access the rod, you'll need to remove the hex screw from the top of the tank and pull the rod out. If you see any of the following, replace the rod:
- 6" of the core steel is visable
- Rod is less than 1/2" thick
- Limescale has built-up on the rod
Another maintenance tip is to address the amount of sediment in the water. Tanks will gradually build up sediment and the tank can be drained to get rid of some of it. Here are the steps you'll need to take to drain the tank:
- Turn off the water to your tank
- Allow the sediment to settle for a bit
- Open the drain valve
- Let water drain until it's clear
- Close the valve
- Turn the water source back on
If you notice a strange smell coming from the water or it never runs clear, contact a professional.
Other reasons to contact a professional include rusty water, rumbling sounds, or leaks. A pro can determine in the rust is coming from the tank or galvanized pipes. Rumbling sounds might result from sediment buildup hardening on the bottom of the tank which leads to inefficiency and eventual breakdown of the tank. Leaks need to be addressed by a pro to determine if they're coming from the fittings or connections or the tank itself. Don't procrastinate about contacting a pro about a leak -- you don't a flood in your home (I have experienced this first hand. It's NO fun. You would be shocked to see how much water comes out of a tank!)
Now that you have a better idea of the signs to look for, pay a visit to your water heater tank. Find the serial number to determine how old the tank is. Look for leaks and contact a professional if you notice any problems or if the tank is more than 8-10 years old. If the tank needs to be replaced, consider talking to a pro about a tankless hot water heater. By maintaining and checking your water heater tank annually, you could save yourself a lot of hassle later.