It’s impossible to stay comfortable at home without a reliable supply of hot water. As you know, people depend on it for showering and bathing, cooking, washing clothes and dishes, and more. But do you know how long you can depend on your current water heating system to keep you comfortable?
The life span of the most common water heater—units with a storage tank—can vary greatly, anywhere from 7 to 13 years. (Tankless, on-demand water heating units last much longer because water is not constantly sitting in a tank being heated).
How long your storage tank water heater lasts depends on a number of factors, including the temperature of the water you set for the tank, the volume of water used, the overall quality of the water heater model, and perhaps most importantly, the water quality. Many people in New Jersey have to contend with “hard water,” which means your domestic water has a high amount of mineral content.
To head off any problems, especially if you have hard water, it’s a wise idea to call on an experienced heating oil technician to flush out your oil-powered hot water storage tank once a year. This procedure will remove sediment that has accumulated at the bottom of the tank. This sediment is caused by the build-up of minerals. Your technician can also check the condition of the anode rod, which generally lasts from 3-5 years.
Storage tank water heaters contain many parts and components, including a long metal anode rod, which extends the life of your water heater by preventing corrosion from building up inside your tank.
Usually made of magnesium or aluminum, the anode rod does its job through a process called electrolysis. The metals in the anode rod attract ions that normally would cause rust in iron and steel. But instead, these ions latch onto the anode rod and as a result, cause it to degrade over time. Without the anode rod, your water heater could rust out in just a few years. That’s why it’s so important to replace the anode rod after it degrades.
A direct-fired water heater is the most common type, with a dedicated burner inside to heat water that is stored in a tank. As you use the water in the tank, the supply of hot water is constantly replenished.
On the other hand, an indirect-fired water heater uses the burner inside your boiler to heat your tap water. A typical design is a water tank with coiled pipes inside. These coiled pipes connect to your boiler. Hot water from the boiler passes through the coil, which heats up the water surrounding it. As you can see, the boiler water never mixes with the contents of your water heater. Because of this configuration, an indirect-fired water heater is highly efficient and just one example of why heating oil is a leader in efficiency.
Q: How Do I Know If My Water Heater Is Wearing Out?
A: Some telltale signs include higher water heating bills, water stains and unusual noises. If it takes longer to heat water than it used to, or the water doesn’t get as hot, these are also signs that you may be ready for a new water heating unit. A big trouble sign is a slow leak from your tank or rust on the tank or in your tap water. (A water tank rusts from the inside out).
If you think your water heater is failing, please contact your local heating oil company for advice about a water heater replacement.