How To Make Your Water Heater Last Longer

No one likes a cold shower! Water heaters are essential to your enjoyment of your home, but they are also expensive. Not only do they cost money to replace, but repairs and additional energy costs from poor function can add up quickly. However, there are few ways that you can extend the life of your water heater and keep it running smoothly and efficiently.

How Do Water Heaters Age?

In order to extend the life of your water heater, it is important to understand their lifespan and the ways they can break down. Most water heaters are made to last around eight to fifteen years, although they can last up to twenty with good care. Tankless water heaters will last around twice as long. Water heaters are made of metal, usually steel, that is lined with glass or porcelain to prevent the water damaging the metal. However, over time this lining develops cracks and the metal begins to oxidize. In addition, sediment from the water begins to build up and lower efficiency.

The first signs of deterioration usually include gradual loss of efficiency. You may notice that your water heater is taking longer to heat or not producing as hot of water. In addition, you will see a gradual rise in your electric or gas bill. Later, the water heater may begin to leak. The initial leaks are slow; you will usually only see a small amount of water near the tank rather than actual dripping. Even a small amount of leaking can damage your foundation and flooring when it is constant. With time, the leak will become more severe; it's important to know where your water shutoff is located in case the leak worsens suddenly. At this point, the water heater needs to be replaced, which is an expensive proposition.

Invest in Routine Maintenance

Having your water heater inspected and flushed once a year can make a huge difference in its lifespan. Flushing the tank removes sediment and some of the scaling that reduce efficiency and corrode the lining. Many water heaters are self-cleaning, but a yearly flush still extends their lifespan. Routine maintenance pays for itself by helping your water heater last longer and allowing you to repair issues before the system breaks down altogether.

Prevent Sediment With Water Softener

Sediment and scaling will eventually cause a great deal of wear and tear while reducing the efficiency of your water heater. This is especially true if you live in an area with hard water. Hard water has minerals in it that can gather on the inner surfaces of a water heater and break down the lining while compromising efficiency. Installing a water softener will ensure that most of these minerals are removed from your water before they can wreak havoc on your water heater.

Add a Second Anode Rod

An anode rod is a rod made of aluminum or magnesium that attracts minerals and ions in water. They corrode this rod rather than corroding the inside of your water heater. Water heaters already have one anode rod, but adding a second can extend the life of the water heater significantly.

Consider an Expansion Tank

You probably know that liquids expand when they are heated. When cold water enters your tank and then is heated to around 120 degrees, it expands around 2%. This may not seem like much, but it's equivalent to an extra gallon of water in a 50 gallon tank. If you have a closed system, which has a valve preventing water from flowing back into water lines, this pressure eventually wears down your water heater tank as well as your water lines. An expansion tank gives this extra water somewhere to go, which means that there is less pressure on your tank.

Add a Pressure Regulator Valve

A pressure regulator valve, or PRV, does exactly as the name suggests. High water pressure, defined as pressure above 90 PSI, damages not just your water heater but your plumbing and many other appliances. Your water heater simply will not last as long when it is constantly under pressure. A pressure regulator valve will ensure that pressure stays constant and at a reasonable level. A PVR is generally installed along with an expansion tank in systems with high pressure.

If you want to expand the working lifespan of this expensive appliance, talk to a residential plumber today. A plumber can inspect your water heater and let you know what preventative measures are most important for your hot water heating system.

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How Hot Water Heaters Work

Are you having problems with your water heater? Are you in search for a solution or a replacement water heater? The water heater is an important component of your home’s plumbing system. Without a properly functioning water heater your home has no access to hot water directly from the tap. No one wants to deal with the inconvenience of a hot water outage, especially for a long period of time. No one has to. With a little knowledge and the assistance of qualified professionals you can be sure that you purchase the best water heater for your home, that it will be maintained properly, that you are know how to identify problems with your water heater, and that you know what to do when and if a problem occurs.

There are two types of water heaters. The most common type is the conventional tank water heater. The other is the tankless water heater. Both types of water heater are available in electric or gas operated models.

A conventional tank water heater heats and stores water in an insulated tank. This steel tank is insulated with glass in order to help keep the water stored inside warm. Cold water enters the bottom of the tank through a supply line and hot water exits through the hot water delivery line, both of which are located on the top of the water heater. Once inside the tank, cold water is warmed. The way the water is warmed depends on whether you have an electric or gas water heater. Electric tank-style water heaters heat cold water with the use of heating elements. Most water heaters have two heating elements, one in the middle and one on the bottom of the tank. These heating elements are triggered to power on by the thermostat, a switch that detects water temperature. Cold water that enters the bottom of the tank triggers the lower element to come on. When you turn on your tap and hot water is pulled from the top the upper element regulates the temperature of the water that replaces it from underneath. Heating elements carry a current until the settings of the thermostat are reached, even after the hot water tap is off. Other tank-style water heaters use natural gas or propane to heat the water stored inside the tank. With this type, a burner is positioned to throw a flame under the tank. The burner is fed gas through a control valve and is regulated by the thermostat.

As their name implies, tankless water heaters do not have tanks. Water is passed through these water heaters rather than stored in tanks. As the cold water passes through the water heater, it is heated by a gas or electric burner. Once the hot water tap is shutoff and the need for hot water is gone, the burner shuts off which can save energy. Tankless water heaters are also a less bulky alternative to the conventional tank-style water heater.

So how do you know which type of water heater is best for you? The choice between electric or gas may be and easy one, but there are other things to consider when shopping for a water heater. If you want to be sure that you are making the best possible choice for your home you should consider the capacity of the heater and its location in your home as well. With tank-style heaters, the larger the home and the more bedrooms and bathrooms in it, the larger the water heater tank capacity needed. This will ensure that you never run out of hot water. Tankless water heaters do not present this problem because they heat water as it passes through. Always consider the amount of hot water that is used in your home, or the flow rate, before making a decision. Also consider the water heater’s storage. Most water heaters are stored in basements or closets, and can get bulky depending on the size of the tank. If you are seeking a space-saving option, you may want to opt for a tankless water heater.

It is important that your water heater be properly maintained in order for it to work most effectively. Always call the professionals if there is a problem, but you can help to maintain your water heater by keeping an eye out for problems. You can also help by doing things like draining your water heater to remove sediment and prevent buildup.

You can also help to maintain the life of your water heater by knowing when there is a problem. Identifying the problem right away and calling the professionals could prevent a larger problem with your water heater. One sure way to know that your water heater is not working properly is that the water is not getting warm enough. This could be a sign of many issues and should be handled right away. If your water heater is leaking, calling the professionals as soon as possible could save you time and money. Never hesitate to act when there is a problem with your water heater.

Your home’s water heater is important, and that is why you should be sure that you choose the best one for your home and your needs. With the right water heater and the professionals on your side, you will never have to suffer a hot water outage because your hot water heater is not functioning properly.


Hot Water Heaters 101

Choosing a compatible water heater for your living space is best done through a consultation with a professional technician to help you make an informed decision. Based on the information you gather, you can decide whether to buy a tank or tankless water heater.

The Role of Waters Heaters in Your Home

Whether you need to take a warm bath or shower, cook, wash clothes or do housework, water heaters play a major role in daily modern life. Surprisingly, water heaters have changed little in the past five decades since they were introduced to the market. Now manufactured with some specific refinements, modern heaters are greatly improved, having longer life spans, higher efficiency, and more safety features that minimize the risk of injury and property damage. Water heaters work by converting energy to heat, and then transferring that heat to water. Water heaters are connected to a cold water supply pipe and have at least one pipe for outgoing hot water which is then routed to taps and appliances throughout your house.

The Standard Water Heater

Although electric, propane, and solar-powered models of water heaters exist on the market, the most common water heater used in the United States is one fueled by natural gas. It consists of a steel tank with a heating element at the base and a flue extending down the middle of the tank to release the carbon monoxide that forms as a by-product of burning natural gas. This type of water heating tank also has some type of thermostat control on the tank's body that allows you to shut off the gas and control the pilot light. These thermostats are equipped with a temperature-controlled probe sensor that automatically shuts off the gas if it detects that the pilot light has gone out or fails to light. The inner lining of the tank is coated with vitreous glass to protect it from corrosion.

Despite of this protective coating, a small amount of the water heater's steel is exposed which still makes it vulnerable to rust. As a measure to protect the steel lining from rusting, manufacturers will install anode rods in the tanks, made of either magnesium or aluminum. By means of the electrolysis process, corrosion is diverted from forming inside the water heater and instead forms on the anode rods. however, the tank will rust if the anode rod is completely corroded unless the anode rod is replaced.

Energy Saving Water Heaters

The second highest source of energy usage in the home comes from the water heater. Unlike equipment that meets the minimum federal standard, certified ENERGY STAR water heaters can use 50 percent less energy. They are an easy choice for energy savings, performance, and reliability which can save you significant money on your utility bills. If you need to replace your current water heater, or are planning for an upgrade, consider a model that has earned the ENERGY STAR label.

Most homes have conventional water heaters that hold 55 gallons of water or less. If a standard water heater is going to be replaced with a more energy-efficient model, it may be an inch or two larger than the old one and can likely be placed in the same location.

Benefits of Using a Tank Water Heater

A traditional tank water heater has numerous benefits over a tankless model. First, they are much more affordable during initial installation. If connections are already in place, a tank water heater is very easy to install. Another tank benefit is that it provides you instant hot water for up to an hour throughout your home.

The Benefits of Using a Tankless Water Heater

Contrary to the cost of a tank unit, tankless water heaters initially costs a bit more at installation, but are more efficient long term. In actuality, the higher cost spent to install a tankless water heater pays for itself. You don’t have to fill a tank with water and heat it continuously because you only pay for the hot water you actually use. In some case, you can reduce your energy bills from using hot water by as much as 35 percent. Tankless water heaters are designed to last many years before needing replacement and require very little maintenance.

Making a Decision

Make sure you take all factors into consideration when the time comes to select a water heater for your home. Set a budget for your out-of-pocket installation cost and weigh this against your energy savings long term. Determine how much hot water you actually use every day and consider this factor with how much you're willing to pay on a monthly basis. Both water heater options offer several attractive benefits, but if you find that your monthly budget will end up costing you more than your long term expenses, your decision will be narrowed down based on these factors.

If you have a big demand for hot water in your home, and are using it to perform multiple tasks throughout your home at the same time, a larger tank water heater may be the best option. It's important to note, that purchasing a tankless water heater to fit this type of household environment may be incompatible to meet higher performance needs. An alternative option may involve installing more than one tankless water heater throughout your home to handle different levels of usage. However, following this course of action comes with more upfront expense with installation.

How the NAECA Impacts You

Since April 16th, 2015, the performance standards for appliances, including water heaters, has gotten stricter. According to the mandates set by the National Appliance and Energy Conservation Act (NAECA), virtually all residential gas, oil, electric and tankless gas water heaters are required to carry Energy Factor (EF) ratings that are higher than older models. If you decide to upgrade your water heater to comply with these new guidelines, or need help figuring out what type of water heater will work best within your budget, contact us for more information.

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