WATER HEATER installation, maintenance and selection
Things to Consider When Buying a New Water Heater
Whether it's stopped working or sprung a leak, whatever the reason you're in the market for a water heater, there are a lot of options to contemplate when researching water heaters. In today's environment, it's important to seek to improve energy efficiency and the green living profile of your home.
Basic Water Heater Considerations:
- The number of people living in your home determine the demand for hot water
- How well your current unit keep up with the demand
- What type of fuel was used, availability and cost
- Estimated energy efficiency of various models
- Length of warranty
- Maintenance and repair information
- Expert and user reviews
- Upfront cost, and annual operating costs
- Space allocation
- Energy and water waste waiting to get hot water
You’ll want the right size hot water heater with the best recovery rate for your family’s needs. It should deliver hot water when and where you need it in the most energy efficient and cost-conscious manner. Depending on the layout of your home, you may need more than one hot water heater to effectively supply your demand.
Types of Hot Water Heaters:
• Conventional Storage Gas Water Heaters
Fuel for gas hot water heaters is either natural gas, propane or oil-fired. Gas models use 100-year-old technology, and have a reservoir or tank holding from 20 to 80 gallons of water. When you turn on your hot water tap, hot water comes to you from the top of the tank. Cold water to be heated enters the bottom of the tank, so the tank is always full unless supply has been exhausted.
• Electric-powered Storage Water Heaters
While electric water heaters have storage tanks and provide hot water in much the same way as do gas ones, they heat water using two electric elements, each with its own thermostat. Because electric water heaters have a low recovery rate, they are slower to generate hot water, which must be taken into consideration when selecting the tank size for this type of system.
• Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters cost substantially more than either gas or electric. Their efficiency advantage is obvious; they provide hot water only as needed so there is no storage tank and no standby heat loss. Some brands promise up to 40% energy savings. Since there is no tank, the space saving feature is huge, especially in some settings. Multiple hot water demands at the same time may tax a tankless water heater, and in these situations more than one unit is optimum.
• Solar Water Heaters
Solar water heaters include storage tanks and solar collectors. They can be a cost effective solution in any climate and are powered using free energy from the sun. Systems installed in higher latitudes may require additional design requirements that will add to the complexity and cost of the system.
Water heaters vary in price for a wide range of reasons, including the water line connections, valves, venting, gas line, strapping, access, and type of water heater. Contacting a professional plumber for a free in-person evaluation of your particular situation is the best way to check pricing. A “blind” quote over the phone is often inaccurate.
Choosing a new water heater can become even more confusing when you factor in the standard, deluxe and premium models within each type. Refer to the warranty to assist you. Five, ten and seven year warranties are the most common.
The life of a storage tank water heater is dependent on the tank, the quality of the water, number of people in the home and the temperature setting of the tank. A tank that is built better is usually going to cost a bit more and have a longer life. Spending a little extra up front will give you a more efficient water heater, which will save you money in the long run.
For both tankless and solar water heating systems, the larger initial financial outlay may discourage many people from these options, even though long-term savings are substantial.
Energy Efficiency Considerations for Water Heaters
Although both gas and electric water heaters lose some of their efficiency because water is constantly being heated in the tank, their efficiency is much improved over the past. Both gas and electric storage water heaters, if heavily insulated, significantly reduce heat loss and have a thermal resistance (R-value) of R-12 to R-25. Always look for an R-16 or better insulation rating.
Some tankless hot water heaters claim up to 40% in energy savings. The energy efficiency is obvious: no storage tank equals no heat loss and no running water as you wait for it to warm up.
Overall, high efficiency hot water heaters will use 10 to 50 percent less energy than older standard equipment. Look for units with the Energy Star® symbol to further enhance the green living standard of your home.
Water Heater Maintenance
To keep your traditional storage hot water heater in tiptop operating condition, you should have it flushed and inspected annually by a qualified plumbing contractor. Tankless water heaters require two types of regular maintenance (time frame based on the quality of your water): Check in-line screen filter for debris and flush the unit to keep it free of scale and lime.
Although homeowners may perform a portion of routine water heater maintenance for solar water heaters, some professional assistance is required to correct wear and malfunction issues. Repairs include cleaning of the collector, checking for cracks and leaks, and replacing heat transfer fluids.
Contact your local Rescue Rooter® plumbing professional now to learn more about hot water heater installation, maintenance and selection.