How Long Do Hot Water Systems Last? 

Hot water systems are essential to any home, and their unexpected breakdowns can be a major inconvenience. As a homeowner, it’s crucial to have an idea of how long hot water systems tend to last. That way, you know when and what to check for to avoid costly repairs and unforeseen downtimes.

In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the different types of hot water systems, their standard lifespans, and how you can improve their longevity.

Types of Hot Water Systems

There are two main types of hot water systems, which can deliver one of four types of hot water services. It sounds a little confusing, so let’s start with the types first.

A hot water system can either be instant (also known as tankless, instantaneous, or continuous flow) or storage (also called a tank water heater). These two hot water systems can run on any of the following four services:

  • Electric: An electric hot water system uses an electric heating element to heat water. It’s less expensive than other water heaters but is less energy efficient, resulting in higher electricity bills.
  • Gas: A gas hot water system uses a gas burner to heat water. Although it’s energy-efficient, installation costs are higher, as it requires a gas supply.
  • Heat Pump: Heat pump hot water systems use electricity to transfer heat from the surrounding air to the water. Installation is also expensive, but power costs are usually lower compared to electric heaters.
  • Solar: Considered the most energy-efficient of all types of hot water systems, a solar hot water system uses solar panels to heat water. It does not consume electricity but requires a good amount of sunlight to function efficiently.

The hot water systems above can last around 10-15 years, with the exception of solar, which, with proper care and maintenance, can last anywhere from 15 to 20 years.

What Affects Hot Water System Lifespan?

Hot water systems generally have a long useful life, but some aspects directly affect their longevity. As with any product, the number one factor that significantly impacts a hot water system’s lifespan is its quality. In other words, you get what you pay for.

High-quality, well-made systems can last for over a decade. Meanwhile, cheaper ones may require replacement because of corrosion, which is the leading cause of issues with the system. Since this is the case, the material of the tank is an important consideration. Here’s a rough guide to help you out:

  • Tanks lined with glass or enamel will need a replacement in about 5 to 10 years.
  • Stainless steel can offer anywhere from eight to 12 years.
  • Low-pressure gravity-fed copper tanks can last for 20-25 years (or more).
  • Heat pumps can give you 10 years of service or more with adequate care.

Of course, the numbers above are conservative. Some models, especially the expensive brands, can provide hot water for at least 15 years. Instant or tankless systems generally last longer, offering up to 20 years of continuous service.

Another factor affecting your system’s lifespan is the frequency of usage. Heavy, everyday use causes more strain. Although the materials in the system can withstand significant temperature changes, these machines always have a limit on what they can handle. This factor, unfortunately, is something beyond your control.

Finally, water quality is one factor that many users don’t think much about. Poor water quality or “hard water” requires more intensive processing, which can quickly lead to corrosion. As a result, your water tank’s lifespan reduces greatly, especially if hard water passes through it day in and day out.

It is always a good idea to check the system’s warranty to ensure you get the sufficient length for the type you plan to purchase.

Common Signs That Say It’s Time to Replace Your Hot Water System

Some signs that your hot water system requires replacement are easy to recognise, whilst others may require a keener, more professional eye. Here are some signs and symptoms that you should not miss:

  • Age: The average lifespan of a hot water system is around 10-15 years. If your system is nearing or exceeding that age, it may be time for a replacement.
  • Rusty Water: Discoloured water is never a good sign, as it often indicates that the system is corroded and, therefore, should be replaced right away.
  • Leaks: Any noticeable leaks around your hot water system, tank, or pipes could mean a damaged system. Contact your local plumber for a replacement.
  • Inconsistent Temperature: Is the system struggling to produce reliable hot water? It may be time for a new one.
  • Noises: Hissing, popping, or any unusual noise usually tells you that a system issue needs to be addressed immediately.
  • High Energy Bills: Whether you have a less energy-efficient system like an electric system or heat pump, your electricity usage should not steadily increase. If you notice that your bills continue to soar, your hot water system could be the culprit.
  • Decreased Water Pressure: If your hot water system no longer produces as much hot water as it used to, it’s probably time for a replacement.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to consult a professional plumber who can assess your hot water system and recommend the best course of action. Regular servicing also helps when it comes to extending the life of your hot water system.

Whether you require replacement or want to install the correct type of hot water system for your home, don’t hesitate to contact our team. Our experienced and knowledgeable plumbers can help you select the best hot water system for your needs and keep it running smoothly for years.