The traditional hot water tank is being challenged by newer technology. Electric water heating, compact residential boilers and, most notably, instant or on-demand water heaters are becoming increasingly popular. But the traditional hot water tank is still the most common way of heating water in Canadian homes.
Pros And The Cons Of Hot Water Tanks
The biggest reason for the continued popularity of traditional hot water tanks is the up-front cost. The cost of a new hot water tank is still the lowest among all means of heating water for baths, showers and cleaning. However, that doesn’t make it the most economical choice for the long run.
Regular hot water storage tanks start at about $1000 to install, whereas Energy Star or direct vent models are more costly. Larger models are also available to deliver more hot water capacity. If energy efficiency is a big concern, you can install a tankless system or a combination boiler, although these cost substantially more than tanks..
Spending a little more gets you a more robust water heater with increased capacity and heating speed, as well as a longer warranty. But just how long do hot water tanks actually last?
Many factors contribute to the life expectancy of a hot water tank. Of course, the overall quality of the product is important, but other factors also determine how long they last, including:
- How much it is used
- The relative purity of the water supply
- Is it a self-cleaning model?
It should be obvious that the more you use something, the sooner it is likely to fail and that is true for hot water tanks.
Maintenance is needed because water is not pure and a build up of lime and mineral sediment will shorten the tank’s life. More expensive models have a self-cleaning feature to help reduce build up of sediments. Having your tank flushed every year or two will keep it working longer.
If you get your water from a private well a water softener is an absolute must, not only for the hot water tank but to preserve every plumbing component throughout your home.
The reality is that the average electric hot water tank will last for about 10 years while gas-fired hot water tanks fail sooner due to deterioration as a result of combustion.
More expensive models can be expected to last longer. Warranties vary from 4 years to lifetime, but you need to read the fine print in any warranty because no manufacturer will replace a hot water tank for free forever.
When we are discussing these variables with you we go over your choices and work out the best model for your budget.
Signs of Imminent Failure
Hot water tanks rarely fail without first giving clues like these that you can watch out for:
- Rust or corrosion on the outside of the tank
- Rust visible in your hot water
- Water not hot enough
- Water takes too long to get hot (recovery)
- Age of your hot water tank
Keep an eye on your hot water tank, especially if it is an older one (10 years for electric; 8 for gas). Have your hot water tank serviced by professionals every year and consider replacing it with newer technology when the time comes. While the initial purchase price may be higher, you will save money in the long run.
Call for more details.
By: Andrew Lake