Telltale signs water heater, furnace will soon die

Learn the New Luxury Playbook at Luxury Connect | October 18-19 at the Beverly Hills Hotel

Q: After reading your column on noisy water heaters I was left with a question that has been worrying me since I was widowed and no longer able to depend on my husband to know such things. The issue that sparked my attention was your estimated life span of water heaters as determined by their warranties. I know my furnace was new, and I think the water heater was too, when I purchased this house in 1973. I am haunted by the idea of one of them suddenly breaking down, but also would hate to replace an appliance that I have found to be so reliable. Are there estimated life spans for such things? Or warning signs of demise? If so, what are they? Somehow furnaces and water heaters are much more mysterious to me than my kitchen appliances. A: Let's do the math. Installed in 1973, your furnace and water heater are 35 years old. The water heater rivals Methuselah for longevity. The furnace is a ripe old age. Even though they are senior citizens, we don't recommend rushing out and...