Water heater replacement

Should a person wait till the water heater springs a leak , before replacing it? I ahve an alarm on the heater to indicate a leak. I can install a heater myself.
I have the temp set low enough that adding cold water to take a shower is at a minimal. So I am not overheating the water just to have to cool it down.
What is the adverage life expectency of a natural gas heater?
Thanks
Tom
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twfsa wrote:

In my experience, typical is around 10-13 years. Whether to replace it preemptively depends a lot on where it's located. If it's in a location where water damage from a leak could be significant, then I would replace it for sure at 13 years.
Also, there is an sacrificial anode in most water heaters that is easily removable/replaceable. It's there to slowly corrode instead of the tank. If you check it every few years and replace before it's gone, you can supposidly extend the life of the tank. I just became aware of this and just checked mine on a tank that is about 6 years old. I'd say it's about half gone, so I'm gonna recheck in 2 years.
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On 29 Apr 2006 08:46:35 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

I looked for my sacrificial anode a little bit, and couldn't find it. Electric WH.
Even if I did find it, I have a shelf about 15 inches above the WH. Would I be able to get the old one out or the new one in?
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If it's half gone, replace it now. It's not protecting your tank very well right now, so why wait?
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I'm waiting for my 28-year-old natural gas heater to spring a leak before it gets replaced. I don't know if the anode has ever been replaced (I bought this place 1 year ago) but if it's lasted this long I suspect it has been replaced once or twice. It's a combo-type anode/hot water outlet thing so I don't really care to disassemble the heater to find out. It is, after all, 28 years old. (and, if it hasn't been replaced, it has 28 years of rust to hold it in place - not fun to remove, may very well break something on the tank in the process)
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twfsa wrote:

I replaced mine when it began making a puddle in 1996. This afternoon, I'll finish up the connections to the replacement I bought yesterday: ten years is about average over here.
It has always annoyed me that water heaters don't include the pressure relief valve ... which is certainly not an optional feature. I bought one along with my new tank at HD.
Surprise: the new tank included the valve, as well as the dielectric break nipples (which I also bought). So I get to make yet another visit to HD.
Roby (I hate plumbing)
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