Learning how to age a GE water heater is very easy if you can locate the data plate label. GE water heaters (General Electric) are manufactured by Rheem and re-branded with the GE logo.
This is also good to know as if you need parts for your GE Water Heater you should be able to search under the Rheem name as well, which are much more common and sold at Home Depot.
You can also find a lot of Rheem parts for your GE water heater on Amazon.
The data plate on your GE water heater should be located along the top of the tank. If your water heater is less than 20 years old, a manufacturing date will likely be printed on this label along with the model and serial number.
The manufacturing date should look something like this MFG. Date: 04/2008
Below is an image of a GE Water Heater data plate. We can see the serial number is GE 0408B3174.
This matches the actual printed MFG date on the label as well. If you do not see the MFG Date, turn your attention to the first four digits of the serial number after the ‘GE‘. It also may say ‘GENG‘ which simply means a GE natural gas water heater.
The first two sets of numbers are the month and the second two sets are the year. The unit in the image below was built on 04/2008, or April 2008.
How long will my GE Water Heater Last?
GE water heaters have a typical lifespan of about 10 years. If your GE water heater is around this age you should be planning for a replacement soon.
While it is true that most water heaters will last longer than ten years, the longer you leave it in place, the more likely you are to have a leak or catastrophic failure.
In my opinion, the short amount of time you gain by pushing it past 10 years is not worth the risk of water damage if the unit were to fail.
Sure, I see a lot of water heaters during my home inspections that are 15 years old and still running, but most of these units are rusting around the tops and bottoms of the tanks.
Pushing your water heater to this point is a bad idea. Water heaters will sometimes fail without warning, and if you are not home to catch the issue when one bursts or develops a bad leak, it can easily flood your home and do tens of thousands in water damage.
Remember – the initial 40 or 50 gallons your water heater is holding is just the beginning when your water heaters tank fails.
Your plumbing is a pressurized system, and once a hole forms in that system the water will keep coming until someone shuts it off.
I have seen thousands of gallons of water find its way across a floor of a home and it’s not a pretty sight.