How Long Should a Water Heater Last in Florida?

August 23, 2021

Advanced Air tech with a tank water heater next to a service van

Traditional tank-style water heaters should last around 10 years.

The hard water in Florida can ultimately reduce the overall lifespan of your water heater. Still, there are several things you can do to extend its life, including:

  • Schedule regular maintenance
  • Install a water conditioning system
  • Install an expansion tank
  • Make sure the temperature is set correctly
  • Insulate the water heater tank
  • Know the signs of an aging water heater

We’ll review these tips in more detail below, but first, let’s take a look at potential signs that your water heater might be failing.

If you need help installing a new water heater, we can help—schedule professional water heater installation with the pros at Advanced Air.

Signs you might need to consider replacing your water heater

Certain signs might be red flags that you need to replace your water heater soon. It’s a good idea to keep an eye out for these things, especially if you’ve owned your Florida home for several years and you haven’t had to replace the water heater yet.

Some of the most common signs that your water heater may fail soon include:

Your water heater's tank is leaking

If the actual tank of your water heater is leaking, you have no choice but to replace your water heater.

Unfortunately, a leaking water heater tank usually means there are cracks in the tank or the tank has rusted to the point of leaking.

What causes your tank water heater to leak?

Your water tank is made of metal, and when it heats water, that metal expands and contracts. Over time, this can cause small fractures in the tank that lead to leaks.

Unfortunately, if the actual tank of your water heater is cracked or leaking, there’s no option but to replace the tank. Keep in mind that these fractures usually take a long time to develop, so if your water heater is leaking from the tank, it likely means other parts of your water heater have begun to (or have) worn out as well and it’s time to replace your entire heater.

Note: Sometimes homeowners think their water heater tank is leaking when it’s actually another part of the water heater leaking (like the water inlet or outlet valves near the top of the tank). Before installing a new water heater, you’ll probably want to have a plumber confirm that your water heater is leaking from the tank and needs to be replaced.

It produces rusty-colored hot water

If you notice cloudy or rust-colored water coming out of your faucets or shower heads, this is usually a good indication that your tank is starting to rust from the inside. Over time, the steel lining on the inside of your tank will start to corrode, which will make its way into the heated water that flows to your home’s appliances.

To determine whether the rust-colored water is coming from your hot water heater, try filling a bucket with hot water. If after sitting for a minute the hot water is cloudy or has an orange tint, there is probably rust in your water heater.

Note: If your water heater is less than 8 years old, the rust could just be from an anode rod that simply needs to be replaced. Before replacing your entire water heater, we’d suggest having a plumber check your tank and determine whether the issue is corroded lining or if it's just a rusted anode rod that needs to be replaced.

It doesn’t produce enough hot water anymore

If you notice that your water heater is struggling to provide your home’s hot water appliances with heated water, that’s usually a good sign that your water heater needs to be replaced.

Over time, the internal components of your water heater start to break down and don't work as efficiently as they are supposed to. Ultimately this means your hot water heater will be unable to produce the amount of hot water it used to (and needs to in order to adequately supply your home).

If your water heater is older and is unable to adequately supply your home with hot water, you’ll need to reach out to a professional for help. A professional will be able to figure out what size water heater you should install so that all of your home’s appliances have enough hot water to keep you comfortable.

Additional signs

Along with these three key signs to look out for, additional signs that your water heater may fail soon include:

  • It needs more and more frequent repairs
  • Your water bills have spiked
  • It’s 10 to 15 years old

The worst possible situation is for your water heater to die unexpectedly. So, if you notice several of the signs listed here, it’s best to contact a technician right away and have them inspect the water heater. A professional will be able to diagnose any issues and recommend the next steps depending on your needs and budget.

If none of the above signs apply to your water heater, that’s good news! Below are some tips that can help you extend its lifespan, so you get the most bang for your buck.

Schedule regular maintenance

The most important thing you can do to help your water heater last longer is to keep up with annual professional maintenance. Regular maintenance will keep all of the internal parts of your water heater working correctly, efficiently, and safely.

Ideally, you should get your water heater professionally serviced once a year by a certified plumber. During maintenance visits, the technician will do two main things: flush the water heater and check the anode rod.

  • Flushing the water heater eliminates hard minerals like calcium and magnesium that build up in your water heater’s tank over time. This flushing process is critical in Florida because our hard water causes your water heater’s tank to accumulate sediment buildup more rapidly. When the buildup isn’t regularly flushed away, you could end up paying for more expensive repairs down the line to fix damage caused to the tank or heating element.
  • Checking the anode rod is another important annual task. The anode rod is a long thin rod that runs down the inside of your water heater. It attracts corrosive minerals and keeps them away from the fragile steel liner inside the tank. Essentially, it sacrifices itself to prevent the inside of your water heater from becoming corroded, which is why it’s sometimes referred to as the sacrificial rod. Eventually, the anode rod will need replacement, but a professional will check it during yearly maintenance and swap it out if needed.

During a maintenance check-up, a technician will also catch any minor issues before they become major problems (and bills). Plus, by keeping up with your annual maintenance, you’ll also keep your manufacturer’s warranty valid!

Install a water conditioning system

A water conditioning system will reduce sediment buildup and corrosion inside your water heater’s tank.

Installing a water conditioning system will prevent sediment buildup inside the tank by altering the hard minerals found in our hard Florida water and manipulating the way they behave in water. By changing the chemical structure of these minerals, a water conditioning system will help prevent deposits from sticking to surfaces, like the steel insides of your water heater’s tank.

Install an expansion tank

When water heats up in your heater, it expands, a phenomenon called thermal expansion.

When the water expands, it adds pressure to the inside of your tank, and this pressure can start to affect the integrity of the tank. Constantly expanding and contracting can reduce the lifespan of your tank, eventually causing leaks.

To prevent thermal expansion from killing your water heater, our suggestion would be to install an expansion tank. An expansion tank is a place for water to flow to if the pressure inside your main tank gets to be too much, lowering the pressure of your tank and preventing damage.

Note: You’ll only need to install an expansion tank if you have a closed plumbing system. A closed system just means that once water enters your home, it can’t go back into the main water supply. This means that water has no “escape” route and can create undue pressure inside your water tank. To determine if you have a closed plumbing system, look for a backflow prevention device on your main water line. If you have a backflow prevention device, you have a closed plumbing system.

If you aren’t sure what kind of system you have or if you would benefit from an expansion tank, reach out to a plumber. They will be able to help you determine if an expansion tank is right for you.

Make sure the temperature is set correctly

Most water heaters are set to around 140° degrees, but the EPA recommends setting your water heater to 120° for maximum efficiency and longevity of your water heater.

If your water heater is set too low (below 120°), bacteria can start to grow in your tank.

If your water heater is set too high (above 140°), it can increase your energy bills and increase mineral buildup and corrosion.

To check the temperature of your water heater, run the faucet closest to your water heater for a few minutes and then fill a glass with the water. Using a cooking thermometer, check the temperature of the water. If it’s between 120°-130°, you’re good to go. If it’s under 120° or over 130°, use the temperature dial on your water heater to adjust the temperature accordingly.

Note: If your water heater was installed the right way, the plumber should have set the temperature correctly before they left your home. At Advanced Air, we always ensure that the temperature is on the right setting before we complete our installation.

Insulate the water heater tank

If you have an older water heater, insulating its tank can save you 7-17% annually on your water bills, improve its efficiency, and extend its life.

Newer water heaters will already be well-insulated, but older units may not be. (TIP: If your water heater is warm to the touch, it needs additional insulation.)

Water heaters are rated and classified by their R-value, which measures thermal resistance (i.e., insulating effectiveness). If your water heater’s tank does not have insulation with an R-value of at least 24, you should consider insulating it with a pre-cut jacket or water heater insulating blanket.

  • A water heater blanket is a flat blanket wrapped around a water heater's tank to insulate it. Depending on how much insulation your water heater needs, the blanket's materials can consist of fiberglass, foil, and/or denim. They can be tailored to fit any water heater size and wrapped around the tank as many times as needed for the most effective insulation.
  • A water heater jacket is very similar, except designed and pre-cut for a specific water tank. Not only are the jackets more visually appealing and professional, but they're also easier to wrap around the tank because they're custom-built for your tank.

Although you can get these materials and insulate the tank yourself, fiberglass blankets can be difficult to work with, and the process of cutting and fitting a blanket may take a long time.

Not to mention, if done incorrectly, you might accidentally overheat an electric water heater's internal wiring and cause a fire. As a result, it's best to leave the job to a professional who can provide expert guidance and ensure the tank is insulated correctly and safely with a blanket or jacket.

Know the signs of an aging water heater

The above tips can help you extend your water heater's life, but if it reaches a certain age – it will eventually need to be replaced. On average, water heaters last about 10-15 years.

It may be time to replace your water heater if you notice...

  • Water dripping or leaking from your tank
  • Rust or corrosion on any part of your water heater
  • Your water heater can no longer keep up with hot water demand
  • Your energy bills have spiked
  • Loud or unusual sounds coming from your heater

If you’re experiencing any of the signs above, it’s probably time to reach out to a professional. Continuing to run an aging water heater can increase your energy bills and potentially cause damage to your home (if your water heater is leaking).

Even though replacing your water heater is an investment, it’s in your best financial interest to replace your heater if it’s exhibiting any of the signs of age we’ve listed above.

Need more water heater advice or installation? Call the trusted Florida pros at Advanced Air.

Contact Advanced Air to install your tank water heater today!

We can come to your home, inspect your water heater, and give you trusted professional advice on when and if you need to replace it. With a proven track record of excellence, you can always expect 5-star service from the team at Advanced Air for water heater installations.

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