Water Heater

Hey all… I did an inspection on 8/29. During my inspection if found the water heater to have rust along the base of it but worked fine at time of inspection. I noted that in my report. This moring I get a call form the buyers telling me that the breaker keeps tripping and the get warm water comeing out of the kitchen and cold in the bathrooms. I thinking one of the elements has gone bad… Any suggestions on what I should look for when I go back this afternoon? They seam calm on the phone. I think they just moved in this last week.

It has been my PERSONAL experience that once you are seeing rust come thru the bottom it is time to replace. When I moved mine what water was left in it came out as the bottom fell apart. Seeing rust is normally pretty serious in MY OPINION.

Once the base is rusted, they’re usually dead and in need of replacement as they’re irreparable. I hope you mentioned that, good luck with the meeting…

What I put in my report was " The water heater has started to rust at the base. These were no visible signs of water, but we can not see under it. Recommend repairs by a licensed contractor".

It’s possible it couldn’t be repaired, so in that case it would be on you for not making that call. Did a repair man take a look at it yet?

The average life expectancy of a water heater is approximately 15-25 years. Water heaters generally need not be replaced unless they leak.

15-25 years??? I average them at 13 years and would recommend replacement before they start leaking as a flooded house irritates people…

Yeah I have to agree with the 13 as opposed to 25 especially if they were installed 25 years ago and on concrete :frowning: I had one last less than 5.

If inside it should be equipped with a pan and drained to the outside , if it starts to leak the water will flow outside.
If it isn’t so equipped I write that up.

I’ve had many 40 plus that looked like new.
They should never be installed directly on concrete.

I meant to put repair or replace by a licensed contractor in my earlier post. I just left the house and all is good. There was a timer on the water heater that they did not turn on… As far as water heaters go, if they are at the 15 year mark they need to be replaced .

So lets say the heater works just fine. There are no visual issues . Nothing !
Do you report that it is beyond its useful life?
For me ,It all depend where it is located. If it is in conditions space it could last a long time.
Here is an 1988 that looks and works like the day it was installed.

I would say past expected life span :)… Just me on that.

I’m glad it all worked out and we are all a little wiser on water heaters. I have a tankless in a house I rent out and it’s a champ, I think these will eventually replace the traditional type…

Me too. I may even add “though the heater looked and performed adequately, its age may be past its normal life expectancy. Client may wish to upgrade to a newer, more energy efficient model.”

Here’s one that was still going strong. Actually there were two of them side by side inside a duplex home…



I see them like that all the time as well as most inspectors .
I believe they have the useful life calculated wrong for water heaters.

I know right. They definitely last longer than typically estimated. These two were up on a stand and even the exterior looked newer. I asked the owner if he’d ever replaced the elements in them and he said no.


Roy, it does look good but all you can see is the out side. There are many things that can kill a water heater.

I will also include, in my experience, electric water heaters last far longer than gas water heaters.

Here is one I had Wed. Never could determine exactly what happen other than it was leaking. The outer skin was bowed out at the seam in the rear. I pushed a little with my hand and rusty water flowed out. No pan underneath and probably some bad water. One of the P traps on the bath sink was rotted out. Water heater is a 2001