Cold shower. Water all over your basement floor. You’re familiar with the unfortunate signs that your hot water heater has called it quits (and if you aren’t, check out last week’s blog post!), but if it has survived for its expected lifespan (10-15 years), chances are you are less familiar with the hot water heaters available to today’s consumer. With more options than ever, the hot water heater market can be a confusing place to find yourself–especially after spending all morning mopping up the mess in the basement.
Firstly, consider the hot water demands of your household. Do you live alone? Do you have a small family that showers at different times of the day? Or are many people in your household rushing to shower each morning around the same time? And how frequently do you use the dishwasher and washing machine? The answers to these kinds of questions will help you decide if you can make do with a smaller capacity tank, or if it’s wise to invest in a larger one.
After considering the factors mentioned above, you can start deciding what type of water heater is right for your home.
You are probably most familiar with a Storage Tank Water Heater. It does exactly what you’d imagine. as Consumer Reports explains, “water is heated and stored until needed, then emerges from a pipe on top of the water heater.” This option is a good choice for households that have high hot water demands; the large storage tank can hold enough hot water to get everyone comfortably through their morning showers. On the other hand, this model is the least energy-efficiency choice, as water stored in the tank gradually loses heat.
A newer approach to water heaters is the Tankless Water Heater. It provides water on demand by heating it with coils and delivering it when it’s needed instead of storing it in a large tank. While this option is more energy-efficient, it’s “best for people who typically aren’t drawing water for more than one use at a time—running a shower and dishwasher simultaneously.”
Lastly, you’ll find Hybrid Heat-Pump Water Heaters. These “capture heat from the air and transfer it to the water. They use about 60 percent less energy than standard electric water heaters.” Major savings! The downsides? They can only be installed in climates that stay above 40 degrees, they require special space considerations to be properly installed, and they are more expensive up-front than the other models.
Can you recall the last time you replaced your hot water heater? If not, chances are the day is approaching. Most homeowners are caught off guard when a water heater goes kaput, but there are some signs you can be alert to that will help you predict whether a water heater is on its last leg. Here are three to look out for.
Check the date your water heater was manufactured. Most water heaters last anywhere from 8 to 12 years. You can check how old your water heater is by examining its serial number. It may look nothing like a date to you, but AngiesList.com breaks down the code: “The serial number contains the date that the water heater was manufactured. But it won’t look the way a date is normally written.
Instead, the serial number will have a date code such as ‘F051052638’. F is for the month and F is the sixth letter in the alphabet, so it represents the sixth month, June. Next, the first two digits of the serial number are 05, which represents the year, 2005. So this water heater was made in June 2005. Each manufacturer has a similar date code, and they can vary; check the manufacturer’s website to learn more.”
Once you know when your water heater was manufactured, you’ll have a better idea of whether it’s nearing the end of its lifespan.
Listen closely to the sounds your water heater is making. All appliances operate with some degree of noise, but that noise should be regular, predictable, and unalarming. If you begin to hear cracks, pops, or rumbling while your water heater is in operation, that’s a bad sign.
These noises point to issues with mineral deposits and sediment building up inside of your water heater–a natural process that occurs slowly over the life of the heater. These deposits tax your water heater’s ability to run efficiently, and contribute to the weakening of the heater’s metal walls, leading to small cracks or holes that will eventually begin to leak.
Examine the hot water flowing out of your pipes. Is it rusty? Does it smell funny? Rusty water can be a sign that the inside of your hot water heater tank is rusting away, which of course means that the end of its usable life is near. But foul-smelling or cloudy water can also alert you to a hot water heater problem.
The folks at Home Depot explain, “mineral deposits travel out of the water heater and create cloudy hot water… often a metallic odor accompanies these deposits. The deposits travel to your faucets and clog the screens in the aerators slowing the flow of water.”
If you notice any of these signs, act quickly to determine whether your hot water heater needs replacing. Waiting can result in your water heater leaking quite a bit of water, which can damage other parts of your home! To get immediate plumbing services, call (856) 627-0303 or use our contact page today!
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