Water Heaters for the most part will last 10 years or more with just a little bit of maintenance. As I work in homes and businesses across York County I often hear folks talking about different brands of water heaters and how some will outlast others. Sadly, many of the brands are made on the same assembly lines in China and at the end of the line they are stamped with their respective brand. The truth is how long you water heater last likely depends more on other variables besides brand. The 2nd most important variable is installation. I've seen a lot of heaters die very early because they were not installed correctly. I've seen water heaters sitting on the floor at a 15-degree angle. I've seen more than I could count without a thermal expansion tank which is a sure way to send your system to an early grave. I've also seen them in damp basements sitting on the floor rusting the bottom out. To prevent installation issues, make sure you hire a qualified plumber to install your hot water heater. The number one killer of water heaters in our area ironically is water. If you are using well water in York County and your water is untreated you are very likely to have hard water. I plan to post a more detailed entry about the water supply in our area but for now I will stick to water heaters. Simply put, "hard water" is water that has a high mineral content. Hard water will wreak havoc on your water heater and the rest of the plumbing and heating systems in your house. Anything that is connected to water is at risk. Hot water heaters are extremely susceptible to hard water. Hard water can cause Galvanic corrosion of the metal in your water heater. Another issue is scale. Hard water will form deposits of calcium carbonate in your water heater. The deposits will diminish water flow and greatly reduce the efficiency of your system by insulating the water from the heat source. Over time your water heater will become less and less efficient. Finally, the corrosion caused by the hard water will cause the unit to leak. The solution to hard water is water treatment. Have your well water tested and if it's found to be hard purchase an appropriate water treatment system. If you can't afford a water treatment system another option is to make sure you maintain your water heaters sacrificial anode. This is a device installed in most water heaters to help prevent corrosion of the metal tank. The anode by making itself a better target for corrosion literally sacrifices itself so the water heater does not corrode. Anode rods may need to be replaced every few years in areas with hard water. Replacing the anode as recommended by the water heater manufacture may significantly extend the life of your water heater. However, it may not stop scale buildup in your system that will reduce the efficiency of your system.