Water Heaters: How old is too old?

October 1, 2015

A quick guide to calling it quits with your antiquated tank water heater

It’s big. It’s old. Sometimes it grants you hot showers. When is it time to break things off with your tank water heater and take the tankless plunge? Probably sooner, rather than later.

Let’s consider the dog years of your water heater. The rate of failure that leads to an insurance claim dramatically rises at year 5. By age 12, nearly 75% of all water heaters have failed (www.disastersafety.org). While these numbers may excite your insurance claim office, we think it is in your best interest to check the age of your water heater so that you can make the best decision for your household.

How do I determine the age of my water heater?

All water heaters, no matter the brand, must be equipped with a rating plate that lists important data such as the model and serial numbers, manufacturing company’s name, length of warranty, and more. Some manufacturers make it easy to determine the age of your heater by including the month and year built into the first 4 digits of the serial number. Other manufacturers require you to check their date-decoding system online. For example, the Bradford White rating plate incorporates a letter system that represents manufacturing years. The serial number might begin: “YF165…” Using their year/month decoder you can find Y = 2002 and F = June. No matter the brand, the year and month of manufacturing is available to all consumers.

After you complete the Sherlock quest for the manufacturing date of your heater, it’s time to decide if you should replace the old or call for maintenance. If it’s over 5 years old, we recommend considering the switch to tankless or at least following our maintenance tips. At Baker Brothers, we can’t turn back time, but we can evaluate the best move for your heater.

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