How old is my water heater and why should I care?
Updated: Nov 18
If you are looking at your old hot water tank and wondering whether you should replace it, besides whether or not it is currently working or leaking water, age is the most important consideration.
But the manufacturers of hot water tanks sometimes hide the age in a code on the serial number. Here are a few of the most common codes for different manufacters of common hot water tanks:
AO Smith and John Wood
You should care about the age of your water heater... because not all flood claims originating from water heaters and hot water tanks are covered by common home insurance. For instance, if the tank is older than 10 or 12 years old, some insurers will consider the flood an "avoidable incident", and not "an insured peril". Also, there may be increased deductible if the claim is covered. Check with your insurer to find out what your coverage is on a flood from a hot water tank.
Hot water tanks are not terribly serviceable, especially the electric water heaters. However, when we do fall service for furnaces, fireplaces and heat pumps for our customers, we will take a look at the water heater or hot water tank too.
Crux service techs will inspect the inlet screen on a gas water heater to make sure that blockages are not causing an unsafe flame condition. We check the draft and inspect the venting to make sure it is safe to operate and not rusting or condensing; and will check water pressure at the hot water tank to make sure that the pressure reducing valve has not failed (potential appliance damage). Those things together take no more than five minutes.
We will also bring the age of the water heater to your attention if it is more than 10 years old. This is not because we want you to throw away a perfectly good hot water tank, just so you have the opportunity to get ahead of potential problems.
So, while many hot water tanks will chug along happily for 15 or 20 years with no problems, you may want to think about changing the water heater at 10 or 12 years to avoid the risk of an uninsured flood. Ask your insurer if you have any questions, and call us to take a look at the water heater if you are thinking about changing it.