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I have Googled extensively and people say a water heater (40 gallon tank, gas type) lasts 8 to 12 years. My water heater is 14 year old and functions well. It looks like brand new too.

For 14 years I did not do any maintenance work on it.

Do I need to replace it? Or should I wait until it breaks?

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    If you have no problem with the spill, wait till it breaks. Otherwise, replace it. It won't be long before you are forced to replace it anyway.
    – r13
    Jun 26 at 19:22
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    Usually with water heating tanks, it is the tank leaking all over the place that happens first, not the heater dying.
    – crip659
    Jun 26 at 19:22
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    Funny everyone commenting about leaks, OP mentions nothing about leaks. No maintenance in 14 years is nice. The only thing to wonder is about sediment and condition of heating elements and the sacrificial anode?
    – G Warner
    Jun 26 at 19:52
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    @JimmyFix-it -- have you checked the anode on it? that's what governs a tank's life more than anything else, as that anode is one of the keys to keeping the tank from rusting thru... Jun 26 at 20:08
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    Yes, check the anode. I am not the biggest fan of "sample sizes of 1". Jun 26 at 22:29
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Lots of comments but, if it is working don’t fix it! I have found a houses with 15-20 year old water heaters. I flushed it installed a new anode and it still worked at that point. As long as it is doing it’s job why do anything other than basic maintenance like flushing and replacing the anode, if it fails a week after you replace the anode pull it and save it it may work in your new tank in a few years.

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    How much force is required to unscrew an anode rod which has been in place for 14 years? I once tried to unscrew an anode rod in a tank which was being replaced due to failure and could not break it loose. Jun 28 at 19:45
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    @jim Stewart how much force was it put in with? Every one will be different including if anti seize was used.
    – Ed Beal
    Jun 28 at 20:50

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