Gas Hot Water Heater - Lifetime?

We have the rotten egg smell going, the hot water heater is 12 yrs old. We assume from reading on line it is the anode rod...
My question is---Is 12 years all you get out of a hot water heater? If so we will replace it before it leaks. If you think that hot water heaters should last longer we will have the rod replaced...
What do you think the average life of a gas Hot water heater is?
Was hoping for more years than 12?

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Nov 04, 2013
how long should one water heater last
by: Mike

You are right about the anode rod and rotten egg odor from the hot water tap. The reason why rotten egg smell occurs is because of the bacteria that develops inside the tank when the anode rod, also called sacrificial anode, starts decomposing. The solution for this problem might be chlorination of the whole system.

There are also some gas water heaters that are coming with the powered anode and it doesn't need replacement. Bad smell is eliminated too.

About the water heater lifetime...

Keep in mind that most of the manufacturers, at least here in North American, provide an average 6 years in warranty. You can pay more for the heater that comes with 8, 10 or 12 years and the main differences are the quality and size of the anode rod.

There are some heaters that can last for over 20 years but these ones are from old times, and probably very well maintained.

Keep in mind that properly installed and maintained unit will give you many years of water heating without problems. These elements should be checked on the regular basis:

Anode rod, at least once a year after warranty expired.

TPR valve also, once a year checked and tested.

The unit should be winterized if not used during the cold water for the extended period of time.

Condensation properly drained.

Leakage points checked.

Check for loose connections.

Visual check of the burner flame, twice a year.

Cleaning of the combustion chamber, pilot, burner...

Never operate the water heater if it is not completely filled with water.

Another solution is to buy a tankless water heater as most of the manufacturers provide 12-year warranty and almost guarantee over 20 years of worry-free water heating.

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