How Long Do Hot Water Systems Last?

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Everyone has come to rely on having hot water in their home so when the system breaks down it is more of a problem than we might have thought. It is not just a lack of showering or bathing. It’s used for dishwashing, your clothes washing and handwashing too. Sometimes with professional help, you can get your hot water system repaired. Sometimes though it might need to be replaced. So, how long do hot water systems last?

There is some variation depending on the type of system, age and some other factors too. Here we explore the lifespan of hot water systems, how to get the most out of them and what to think about when you need a new one.

What affects the hot water system lifespan?

The average lifespan of hot water systems is about 10 years, but some things can lower that, and some times you can extend that. Some manufacturers have different warranties and it also depends on whether the system is with a tank or tankless. Those systems with a water tank will have a different life expectancy depending on the material they are made from. For example, a mild steel tank or an enamel lined tank might have a lifespan of 5 to 10 years. Copper tanks have a lifespan of 7 to 10 years. A stainless-steel tank on the other hand typically has a longer lifespan at 10 years.

As well as the material of the tank, something else that affects the lifespan is how regularly you perform maintenance on the hot water system. Maintenance is very important, and having the right expert come in for smaller repairs when required keeps the system working without the need for larger and more expensive repairs. The parts of the hot water system are more likely to give out sooner, something like the sacrificial anodes for example needs to be replaced every 5 years. Your local plumber or hot water system expert can take care of that and come in for regular check-ups.

When to start thinking about replacing your hot water system

The easiest way to know when you might have to think about replacing a hot water system is knowing how old it is and judging from there. But when you are thinking about how long do hot water systems last, there are some signs you can look out for. Here are some of the main ones.

  1. Is the water not as hot as it once was, or running out a lot faster than before – Both might happen or you might have one or the other. It indicates the hot water pressure is low and that could be as simple as a blocked showerhead or the heating element efficiency has dropped. A professional can replace that element to see if that fixes the issue, but if there is no improvement or the hot water system is leaking, then it may need to be replaced.
  2. Has it become very noisy – Hot water systems do not start noisily. So if you have a system that is gradually getting louder, or the noise suddenly starts up, this is a sign the system is failing and the hot water system lifespan is coming to an end. For a lesser noise change, it could be something simple like a valve that needs replacing. But usually the louder the sound the larger the issue, unless the problem is actually something like water hammer in the pipes rather than a problem with the system itself.
  3. Do you see rust around the unit’s fittings – Something else that indicates the lifespan of hot water systems may be drawing to an end is the sign of rust? Have a plumber come and take a look and talk to them about whether a repair or replacement is the best move.

Satisfying the conditions in your warranty

If you are still within the warranty time of your system you need to look at what that covers. Some might cover the whole system and allow for a replacement but when that is the case, you must meet all the conditions. That often covers things like not doing repairs yourself, only using genuine parts made by the manufacturer.


How long do hot water systems last depends on several factors. As well as looking at what the manufacturer recommends and suggest, when you need work done, always use a licensed and professional local Adelaide plumber with experience and training.