How long does a water heater last? That is a good question. Most home inspectors will throw out the arbitrary number of 10 years. The only problem with that is that is does not take into account factors such as fuel type, style, how much it gets used, and other issues.
The 10 year rule is a good rule of thumb for water heaters, don't get me wrong. But there are other factors to consider. First, an electric water heater tends to last longer than a gas or oil water heater, but is less efficient. Also, try to keep the water heater in an area with less temperature extremes.
In this regard, the old adage "you get what you pay for" really comes into play. That doesn't mean that if you get the world's most expensive water heater that it will last forever, but it does seem to help in the longevity of the unit.
So how long does a water heater last? The 10 year rule does work here, but take in some of these other factors first
Mike McFadden, Certified Master Home Inspector in Orlando, FL