Your water heater is one of the most essential pieces of equipment in your home, yet how much do you really know about it? Do you know how it works, or even what kind you have? When your water heater is functioning properly, you probably don’t give it a second thought. However, when you start to lose hot water, you’re going to want answers—and fast. Keep reading for the answers to five common FAQs about water heaters, courtesy of our skilled plumbers at Smith’s Plumbing Services.
The 5 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Water Heaters
- How Many Different Types of Water Heaters Are There? Different water heater models can be broken down into categories based on fuel source, i.e. whether they run on gas or electricity. However, in terms of functionality, there are two main types of water heaters currently available on the market: standard tank water heaters and tankless systems. Standard water heaters use a heating element to reheat your water in a large tank every time you turn the tap on. Tankless systems, on the other hand, heat water as it moves through your pipes.
- Which Type of Water Heater is Right for Me? Both traditional and tankless water heaters have distinct advantages. Tank water heaters are far less expensive to install, so from an upfront cost standpoint, they are a better choice than tankless water heaters. However, while tankless systems are more expensive to install and repair than traditional models, they are also more energy-efficient, as they do not use energy reheating your water heater over and over again in a tank. That means using a tankless water heater could end up saving you a lot on utility bills in the long run. Traditionally, tank water heaters have been a better choice for people who live in large houses, where multiple taps may need to run at once. However, thanks to recent advancements, tankless systems are increasingly capable of covering large homes, too. And of course, if a tankless water heater works correctly, it presents the distinct advantage of being able to deliver a continuous supply of hot water on-demand.
- What Size Water Heater Do I Need? As mentioned above, traditional water heaters have long been considered the better choice for large homes. However, not all tank water heaters come in the same shape and size. If you have a large family – say four people or more – you will want to install a water heater with a tank that can hold between 50 and 80 gallons of water at a time. On the other hand, if you live in a small home, with only one other person, you will probably be better suited to a unit that holds 23-36 gallons. If you’re looking to install a tankless water heater, conversely, the size of the unit is less important than the system’s flow rate (another advantage of tankless water heaters is that they are always fairly small, and therefore relatively easy to access.) A tankless heater’s flow rate is measured in gallons per minute, or GPM. The bigger your home is, the higher GPM your tankless system will need to have.
- When Should I Replace My Water Heater? As a general rule of thumb, you should upgrade to a new tank water heater every 10-15 years, and a new tankless system every 20 years. If you do not know how old your current water heater is, you can usually figure it out by looking at the serial number, located somewhere on the unit. Other signs that it may be time to install a new water heater include strange noises or smells coming from your system or appearing in your water, uneven water temperature or flow, and increasing energy bills.
- How Do I Keep My Water Heater Running for as Long as Possible? Traditional tank water heaters wear down faster due to sediment build-up in the tank. This is why it is a good idea to flush out your water heater tank about once a year. You can also help mitigate the effects of hard, minerally water by checking and replacing your anode rod (the component that reduces sediment and bacteria in your tank) as necessary, and potentially installing a water treatment system, to reduce rust and build-up in your water supply. Other than that, the best way to increase your water heater’s lifespan is simply to call a professional for repairs and maintenance. Fortunately, at Smith’s Plumbing Services, our technicians know how to handle a full range of tank and tankless water heater models, so you never have to worry about hot water problems in your home again!