How to Extend Your Water Heater Lifespan

Home appliances don’t come cheap, and so most homeowners want to make their appliances last as long as possible. One component of helping your appliances, particularly water using appliances is paying attention to water quality and hardness. If your home has hard water and you don’t have a water softener, you’re likely to experience more issues with water using appliances, particularly your water heater.

The Impact of Hard Water on Your Water Heater How to Extend Your Water Heater Lifespan

Hard water is a common water quality issue throughout the United States. Hard water means that you’re likely to pay more to operate your household appliances because of increased energy costs, increased repair issues, and more detergents or soaps.

Whether your water heater is gas or electric, it will require less energy and work better when it’s supplied with softened water. Limescale caused by hard water minerals settles at the bottom of the water tank, creating a layer that needs to be heated before the heat can transfer into the water. As this layer grows thicker, the efficiency of the water is reduced, increasing costs with longer cycles and increasing strain on the appliance.

On an electric water heater, the hard mineral scale tends to also accumulate on the heating elements. This again reduces efficiency leading to increased costs and reduced capacity.

While you may be prepared to pay a little more in energy bills, it is important to appreciate that the accumulation of scale also places strain on the appliance. Your water heater will be forced to work harder for longer. This will not only create repair issues, but will also compromise the lifespan of your appliance.

The Extent of the Problem

In 2009, the Water Quality Association commissioned a study to examine the impact of hard water on household appliances. The Battelle study tested appliances with both hard and soft water to make a comparison of energy use and lifespan. The research team found that hard water had a significant impact on the lifespan of water heaters. Hard water was found to not only compromise efficiency by as much as 48 percent, but also reduced the lifespan of the appliance, with some models failing after only 1.6 years. The same model of electric water heater had an expected lifespan of 13 years, but this was cut to 6.5 years when using hard water. Gas water heaters were similarly affected with an expected lifespan cut from 11 years to 5.5 years.

What Can Be Done?

Although it may be possible to drain and clean your water heater, unless the underlying problem is addressed, the issues are doomed to repeat themselves. The best form of defense against a compromised appliance lifespan is installing a water softener. Installing a water softener can immediately create a positive impact on your wallet, reducing energy costs and improving the lifespan of your water heater. These types of devices are designed to remove the minerals dissolved in hard water that cause the scale buildup.

If you have concerns about the impact of your water quality on your home appliances, you should consult a water treatment specialist. A fully WQA certified professional can not only assess your water quality, but also guide you through the treatment systems that are best suited to your unique requirements.

By Mark Williams (NicMar President Mark Williams holds degrees in Applied Science and Industrial Thermodynamics, along with Agricultural Mechanization and Systems Engineering from Ohio State University.  He also holds the highest possible industry ranking, being WQA (Water Quality Association) LEVEL 6 Certified.)

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Nicmar Water
999 Baltimore Road York SpringsPA17372 USA 
 • 800-542-8649

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