Kathryn's Blog


Inspecting Water Heaters - Part 1 - A Home Inspector Shares Some Insight

Water heater codes demystified. 

In the following blog, home inspector Michael Thornton of Tennessee clues us in to the meaning of some of the numbers that may be found on a water heater. 

Keep in mind, your water heater may be different than that shown below.  Always consult with an inspector or contractor licensed in your state to verify such information. No guarantees are made here - this is strictly for informational purposes.

I'll look forward to seeing what Michael writes for Part 2.


Inspecting Water Heaters - Part 1

Water heaters are one of those modern conveniences that most folks take for granted. That is, until something goes wrong. As Murphy's Law would have it, this will be the major appliance that will head south shortly after moving into your new home. This often becomes a major bone of contention when dealing with home warranty companies.

The serial plate reveals a lot of information, if you know how to read it. The serial number reveals the age. This water heater was manufactured 7/99 and is 10 years old. The capacity is 40 gallons, it is electric, but the major item to notice is the big number 6. This tells the consumer and the inspector that the tank has a 6 year rust-through life expectancy. After that, how lucky do you feel? For the most part, this should tell you and your clients that this unit is at the end of its serviceable life. This information needs to be in the inspection report so that your client can budget for eventual replacement. This will also be very useful for any warranty claims against the home warranty company.  

© 2009 michael thornton | complete home inspections, inc. | brentwood, tn | 615.661.0297 | www.completehomeinspectionsonline.com
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Kathryn Acciari, Brand Ambassador

Century 21 Real Estate LLC
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Comment balloon 3 commentsKathryn Acciari • December 10 2009 04:10PM


We built our house 9 years ago and have 4 kids (3 of them athletes, 2 of them GIRLS) so that means an ENDLESS pile of laundry and A LOT of long showers.  Sometimes twice a day!!!  I've been thinking about replacing my hot water heater before it fails but have been reluctant.  It is so hard to spend money on something that ain't broke!!!  Maybe I'll stop at the hardware store on my way home tonight..........MAYBE!

Posted by Lewis Beynon, Triangle Real Estate 411 (CENTURY 21 Triangle Group) almost 11 years ago

Lewis:  Yes, it sounds like it is time for a new heater.  It is hard to do if it's working just fine, isn't it?

Posted by Kathryn Acciari, Brand Ambassador and Business Coach (Century 21 Real Estate) almost 11 years ago

Hi Kathryn, this is a great tip!  I knew you could tell the age by the serial numbers on hot water heaters and furnaces, but did not know exactly where to find it...great post with the photo!

Posted by Debra Kukulski, Broker Associate, SRES;SFR,CDPE;GRI;ABR;e-PRO Realtor, Northern IL (RE/MAX Suburban) almost 11 years ago