Get The Low-Down On Water Heaters
Most of us take a continuous flow of hot water for granted…until one day the unthinkable happens. The worst part is it’s completely avoidable! This is because most water heater failures occur when the water heater has reached its life expectancy and the tank begins to rust and corrode. The majority of these failures involve leaking or bursting—usually as a result of deteriorating structural integrity of the aging tank. Changes in seasons are of particular concern with older tanks because the associated shifts in temperature cause the water heater to expand and contract, thus increasing the risk of the tank bursting exponentially. The last thing homeowners needs is for their hot water heater to burst—particularly in this economy. A disaster like that can easily result in hundreds or even thousands of dollars in damage.
Sadly, many homeowners tend to be reactive rather than proactive about ensuring the integrity of their water heaters. So much so, that the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) performed a detailed review of homeowners’ insurance claims resulting from water heater failures from multiple insurance companies around the country. The study revealed the following:
- The typical life expectancy of a residential water heater is between ten and thirteen years, with the average falling at 10.7 years.
- Water heater failures are one of the top five sources of residential water losses.
- 69% of all water heater failures result from a slow leak or a sudden burst.
- Water heater failures cost an average of $4,444 per incident after the deductible was paid.
- In a review of 700 water heater claims, nearly seven of 10 failures were due to a tank bursting or leaking.
- The rate of failure resulting in a claim begins to dramatically increase for a water heater beginning at age 5—when 12% of all failures occurred.
- By the time a water heater reaches age 12, nearly three quarters of have failed.
Below is a visual representation of the results of the study and the spread of insurance claims are detailed by tank age at failure. This visual clearly indicates that if one wants to avoid the risk of a potential disaster, it is blatantly obvious that we as homeowners absolutely MUST be proactive and replace our hot water heaters no later than at the age of ten.
We can reduce the risk of failure and even extend the life of our water heaters with preventative maintenance including inspecting the water heater’s anode rod, shut-off valve and all piping, as well as regularly flushing the tank. The anode rod should be inspected every two years and at least annually once the warranty has expired; the shut-off valve and all piping should be thoroughly examined annually; and the tank should be flushed every six months to remove the sediment—more frequently in cases of well and/or hard water due to the higher mineral content in these areas.
In fact, one should really start researching the different options for water heaters long before that ten year mark, and also start saving up for it. For tips and advice on selecting the best hot water heater for your household’s needs, visit the US Department of Energy website where you’ll find lost of useful information.