On average, the life-span of heat pump units built in the 1970s and 1980s is about 15 years, but individual units may vary and last much longer depending on use and how well they are maintained. Based on the manufacturer's suggested service life, the life expectancy of a water heater and its storage tanks are about 8 to 12 years. This will vary depending on the location and design of the unit, quality of installation, maintenance schedule and water quality.
Ensure that your building has preventive maintenance (PM) contracts in place to upkeep the hot water heaters and storage tanks. Not having a PM schedule in place can lead to corrosion, which can lead to catastrophic leaks in your building. The watertight integrity of the equipment should be kept at an optimal level. From a customer service perspective, if a heat pump fails, the residents don’t have hot water to use. Good building managers take pro-active measures to never inconvenience residents.
Whether the PM contract is twice a year, quarterly, or monthly, it’s very important for condo associations to understand the severity of loss if this equipment fails. If your building does not have a PM schedule in place, start off by calling licensed and insured plumbing companies that specialize in heat pump prevention and obtain 3-5 proposals for your board members to review and accept. These are prudent best practices that will pay big dividends down the road. Building managers should be working closely with their property managers and their board members during budget and reserve season to ensure there’s adequate funding for this line item in the upcoming years.