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How Long Does a 50 Gallon Water Heater Last? Think to Know

Fact checked by Stephen Conklin

how long does a 50 gallon water heater last

Did you know water heaters have a variable lifespan? Some products might last a decade or so, while others would be great enough if they reach their fifth year of operation. It makes one wonder, how long does a 50 gallon water heater last?

A 50-gallon water heater is one of the most popular options on the market because it suits most contemporary families. A 40-gallon unit might be insufficient for most folks, while an 80-gallon water heater is overkill.

Are you aching to learn ‘how long should a 50 gallon water heater last?’ Let us find out.

Table of Contents

What Is the Average Lifespan of a 50-gallon Water Heater?

No two water heaters are exactly alike in the same way as no two persons (even twins) are identical. Hence, it would be faulty to generalize the longevity of water heaters. However, we can get an average to give you an idea of ‘how long does a water heater last?’

Some people report using a 50-gallon water heater for at least 20 years, while others say their unit did not reach the first decade. That is why I consider a family who owns a 30 year old water heater very fortunate.

On average, a water heater will last 15 to 20 years in ideal conditions. Unfortunately, some of us do not live in perfect situations. Hence, it is not unusual to hear some people say their 50-gallon water heaters only lasted 5 to 8 years.

These variances beg a deeper examination into the various factors affecting a water heater’s lifespan.

What Factors Can Impact a 50-gallon Water Heater’s Longevity?


No two households will have a similar experience with their 50-gallon water heaters. They might have the same brand, but other factors can also impact the water heater’s longevity.

1. Hard Minerals, Sediments, and other Water Contaminants

Water hardness is one of the most crucial factors affecting a water softener’s durability. The US Geological Survey defines hard water as water containing at least 1211 milligrams of calcium carbonate per liter of water (also translated as parts per million or ppm).

Among Americans, this is equivalent to about 7.1 grains of calcium carbonate per gallon of water.

Although drinking hard water can be good for your health because of the calcium and magnesium it contains, it might not be a welcome condition for your water heater, other water appliances, and plumbing.

The problem is limescale formation, covering the water heater’s heating elements and other essential components. Your 50-gallon water heater must work harder than ever to heat the water.

Unfortunately, doing so can also undermine its operational and structural integrity, reducing the water heater’s lifespan.

The same thing can happen with sediments, dirt, silt, debris, and other particles entering the hot water tank. These objects can interfere with the water heater’s optimal functioning, undermining its durability.

Hence, it would be wise to invest in a good-quality water softener if your water hardness level is at least 61 ppm or mg/L or 3.57 grains per gallon.

A water filtration system can also help extend your water heater’s lifespan by removing water contaminants before they reach the water heater. Periodic draining and flushing of the water heater also offer hope.

2. Tank Construction and Associated Elements

Just as no two households are alike, no two water heater brands are also identical. Manufacturers design their water heater tanks using various materials.

Some brands use technologies that prevent sediment and limescale adhesion to surfaces. Other companies use slick and nonporous surfaces for the tank’s interior, such as glass and porcelain. This design prevents sediment and limescale adhesion on the interior tank surface.

Most water heater companies use an anode rod in the tank’s center, acting as a magnet in attracting water contaminants. Unfortunately, corrosion can also develop in the anode rod over time.

3. Water Consumption

According to the Florida Solar Energy Center, the average four-person American household consumes 63.1 gallons of hot water every day, peaking in the winter at 65.7 gallons before dipping in the summer at 45.2 gallons.

While a 50-gallon water heater is more than sufficient to meet an average household’s hot water needs, increasing demand can put undue pressure on the system.

Storage water heaters have a first-hour rating and an average recovery rating. These parameters describe how efficient the water heater is in coping with hot water demands.

When you use hot water, cold water enters the hot water tank and lowers the existing water temperature. The greater the water volume consumed, the lower is the water temperature in the tank. The water heater must work double-time to increase the water temperature to the ideal level.

Unfortunately, if the situation is persistent, the water heater might not have adequate time to ‘rest.’ It can reduce its longevity by making the water heater work harder with each hot water use.

How Can You Extend Your 50-gallon Water Heater’s Lifespan?


While a 50-gallon water heater can last up to 15 years in ideal conditions, you can observe a few more steps to extending its lifespan.

1. Drain and Flush the Water Heater at least Once Every Six Months

Draining the water heater is not a complicated process, requiring only about 30 minutes to one hour of your time. You can drain your water heater at least every six months, more frequently if you have hard water.

You can flush the water heater every year, allowing you to remove mineral deposits and sediments before they impact the appliance.

2. Install a Water Treatment System

It is ideal for installing a water softener to get rid of calcium carbonate and other minerals if you have hard water. I hope you will not think that a water filter can serve as a water softener. These systems are different.

A water filter removes various contaminants from the water, depending on the filter’s design. On the other hand, water softeners replace the hard minerals with ions that do not adhere to plumbing surfaces and prevent limescale formation.

The ideal setup will be a combination of a water softener and a water filtration system before the water heater.

3. Observe the Water Heater’s Ideal Operating Parameters

Water heaters have maximum operating parameters. For example, some systems can accommodate water pressures up to 150 PSI, while others can only handle 80 PSI. Other water heaters can function up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, while others limit their operating temperatures to 150 degrees.

It would be best not to push your luck relative to the water heater’s maximum operating parameters. I recommend dialing the settings to within 15% to 30% of feature’s upper limit.

For example, if the maximum temperature is 180 degrees Fahrenheit, it would be best to set the water heater to a maximum of 140 degrees Fahrenheit.


The answers to the question, how long does a 50 gallon water heater last, are as varied as the number of water heater brands and models on the market.

Some people can have 50-gallon water heaters that last up to 25 or 30 years. Still, other families might be less fortunate, with the water heater only lasting them several years.

Water quality, tank construction, and hot water consumption can impact a 50-gallon water heater’s lifespan. The good news is you can observe a few measures to extend your water heating appliance’s longevity by a few more years.

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