Water heaters are enigmatic. They hide in closets and silently go about the work of making sure hot water flows from taps. But when a water heater reaches the end of its life, homeowners may have no advance warning.
How many things can go wrong that cause a water heater’s early demise? Leaking drain valves. Leaking pressure relief valves. Leaking tanks and condensation are among the culprits. Even the location of your water heater could expose it to additional risks.
How long should you expect your unit to last?
One of the ways to keep tabs on the performance of your water heater is to assess its age, says the original This Old House host Bob Vila. “A traditional tank-type water heater lasts an average of eight to 12 years,” he notes. But that four year difference can mean a lot to homeowners counting a dozen years of performance.
Why it’s important to know your water heater’s age
Knowing the age of your water heater helps you act proactively, before potential catastrophes strike. Where to find that age? Locate the data sticker on your tank that is in close proximity to the warning labels and energy guide.
If you’re lucky, the install date will be printed in plain sight. If it’s not, write down the serial number.
This contains a code for the month and year your unit was manufactured. The following 10 companies hold the key to the age of your water heater so scroll down until you find the brand that provides the hot water for your home.
How to determine the age of your Bradford White water heater
According to the vendor, you can employ the following table to determine the manufacturing year of your heater:
Read the first two Letters of your tank’s serial number. The first letter is the year and the second letter is the month (according to the following table):
|First Letter of Serial Number (Year)||Second Letter of Serial Number (Month)|
P=2017 (or 1997)
Example: If you Serial Number starts with MG, then the manufacturing age is 2015, July.
How to determine the age of your AO Smith water heater
This company coded its water heaters by style.
If you’ve got a water heater that is considered by AO Smith to be current (Style 1), locate the first 2 numbers in sequence to identify the year of manufacture. Digits 3 or 4 pinpoint the week of the year during which your unit was produced.
Example: 1411****** (Year=2014, 11th week)
All water heaters falling into the Style 2 category (manufactured before 2008) use digits 3 and 4 to denote year of manufacture, but these models usually also include a letter (second in the serial number) indicating month of manufacture as follows:
Example: *E07****** (Year=2007, May)
How to determine the age of your Rheem water heater
Because Rheem produces water heaters under at least 20 brand names, identifying their dates of origin could seem impossible, but in fact, the company used the same coding system for its 5 styles of water heaters. Identify the style and you unlock the key to figuring out your unit’s manufacture date.
Style 1: Digits 1-2 represent the month of manufacture; digits 3-4 denote the year.
Style 2: The week of manufacture is found in digits 2-3; the year follows as numbers 4-5.
Style 3: Digits 3-4 denote the week of the year the unit was made; digits 5-6 stand for the year.
Style 4: Digits 5-6 represent the month the unit was made; digits 7-8 denote the year.
Style 5: What separates this style from other units? Digits 1-2 establish the year; digits 3-4 represent the month, but these two sets of numbers are always separated by a period between the two (e.g 09.07-***)
How to determine the age of your Whirlpool water heater
Whirlpool water heaters are relatively easy to date because the company only originated two style numbers, and each offers a relatively fast way to determine date of manufacture.
Style 1 units are divided into three components. The first 2 numbers identify the year while the second 2 numbers represent the week the unit was made. The water heater’s unique 7-digit sequence number follows.
Example: 1206********** (Year 2012, week 6)
Style 2 water heaters follow exactly the same date identification order, but the sequence number that follows these dates is composed of only 6 numbers.
How to determine the age of your GE water heater
You’re in luck if you own a GE water heater because these units are manufactured by Rheem, so you can refer to #3 in this guide (Style 1). If you don’t want to do that, just look past the initial letters posted on the information sticker and you can decode the 3rd and 4th digits as the year of manufacture.
How to determine the age of your Ruud water heater
Edwin Ruud invented the water heater in 1889, and while his company is now owned by Rheem, his brand lives on.
If you happen to own an older Ruud water heater, you’ll find its age by identifying the serial number, skipping any letters that begin the sequence and identifying the date of manufacture by the 3rd and 4th digits.
You’ll owe a debt of gratitude to the company for abandoning the industry’s traditional coding system fairly recently. These days, look to the right of the serial number and you’ll spot the manufacture date printed in plain English.
How to determine the age of your State Industries water heater
You’ll find this company to be unambiguous when it comes to identifying year of manufacture: Just look for the serial number and those first 2 numbers will indicate the year the unit was made. State Industries water heaters produced after 2013 are even easier to identify: the company began to add the actual “build date” to the tank information label.
How to determine the age of your US Craftmaster water heater
There’s no code to decipher; just check the first 2 numbers on the serial number to identify the unit’s year of manufacture.
How to determine the age of your Kenmore water heater
The Kenmore brand has been around longer than most of us have been alive, yet the company’s system of coding is relatively easy to interpret. If there is no capital letter starting off the serial number sequence, those first two numbers indicate year of manufacture.
On the other hand, if the serial number on your tank begins with a letter, that indicates the month it was made, so use this 12-month alpha sequence to identify it:
Example: G04******** (Year 2004, July)
How to determine the age of your Reliance water heater
Spot the serial number on the data plate, skip the capital letter and determine the year the water heater was built by identifying the first 2 numbers in the sequence (after the capital letter).
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