Basic Things You Should Know About Water Heaters

Basic Things You Should Know About Water Heaters
February 9, 2012 Lorelie

A water heater basically converts energy to heat and then transfers that warmth to the water.  It is attached to a cold water supply pipe and it has an outgoing hot water pipe, or even a system of pipes, which supplies heated water to one or more faucets and appliances.

Water heaters are truly one of the most common household appliances that have been considered as a major investment by many homeowners.  This is actually entirely justifiable, because water heaters tend to have about more than a decade’s worth of operational expectancy, so every owner is assured that their hard-earned money has been put to good use.  Nowadays, it is very important to know and understand the different types of water heaters available in the market, which range from conventional or traditional storage units to tankless ones.  There are even water heater units that use different power sources, from natural gas to electricity.  It all depends on the homeowner’s daily heating needs.

A traditional or conventional water heater stores heated water in its tank.  The less popular tankless water heater does not store water.  Instead, it routes heated water directly to the faucets or appliances.  A lot of water heaters are fueled by natural gas, although there are some models of water heaters available in the market that can be powered by propane or electricity.

A tankless water heater circulates water by means of a series of electric coils or burners whenever a hot water faucet or appliance is turned on.  Since this type of water heater does not store hot water, it costs less to operate and it does not run out of hot water except when the flow exceeds its heating ability.  If two people take showers at different bathrooms at the same time, a tankless water heater unit might not be able to efficiently handle the flow.

Nowadays, water heaters are much more energy efficient and more eco friendly.  This means that you are able to save money and generate less harmful emissions when using current models of water heaters.  It is wise to always look for the Energy Star ratings whenever acquiring a new water heater.  Each Energy Star unit of any appliance, in this case a water heater, will actually boost your savings considerably while you get to enjoy the same benefits of hot water generated by the older and less energy efficient water heater models.

Water Heater Basic Safety Tips

  1. Keep the surrounding area of your water heater clear for service access as well as for adequate air circulation by:
    1. In the bathroom, always test the water temperature before you step into the shower or bathtub.
    2. Always supervise infants and small children when they will be using hot water from the faucet.
    3. Be wary and watch out for abrupt increases in water temperature whenever another faucet is turned on at a different part of the house.
    4. Use wraps for the water heater lines and always keep them insulated.  Do not use any wraps on your water heater tank.
  • Making sure that there are no dangerous, combustible or flammable materials used or stored in the same room or near the water heater.
  • Making sure that the water heater unit is not confined in an area where it is difficult to service, remove or where there is inadequate ventilation.
  • Making sure that the water heater is placed in an area with adequate drainage in the premises, and that the drainage itself is open and unrestricted.
  • Making sure that the vents and openings are kept clean and clear as well as well maintained.
  • Making sure that the floor drain is without obstructions and there is a clear water path between the water heater and the drain.
  • Avoiding the habit of storing valuable objects near your water heater.

Water Heater Maintenance Tips

The water heater is something we depend on each day but hardly ever think about it, until something goes wrong and we have no choice but to call in a plumber or professional.  By simply completing some quick annual water heater maintenance tasks, you can considerably lengthen the lifespan of your water heater, whether it is gas or electric powered.

Before attempting to do any water heater maintenance by yourself, you must bear in mind some safety measures:

  • When in doubt, wear thick gloves to protect yourself.
  • Ensure that you have sufficient lighting.  Lots of water heaters are usually kept in dark areas at home.
  • Avoid scalding or burning yourself by checking the water heater temperature prior to touching it.  You can do this by lightly tapping the area with the back of your hand or by simply using a thermometer.

Tips on Buying Water Heaters

Buying the cheapest brand of water heater may prove to be an expensive choice later.  Most water heaters must comply with the same standards and energy efficiencies; however, the similarities sadly end there.  Water heater warranties greatly differ and most only cover the total cost of the parts, and the labor is not included.  When buying a water heater, it is advisable that you understand who covers the expenditure of the potential labor costs that is associated with most repairs.

When choosing a water heater for your home, consider the number of bathrooms present in the house as it can be easier to estimate the needed tank size; however, there are some situations that can skew these standards.  For example, you might need a bigger tank if you always have lots of laundry to wash due to many small children in your household, or maybe if you have a very large bathtub at your home.

The minimum size unit for a one-bathroom home must be about 30 to 40 gallons, may it be gas or electric powered.  For a 1 large and 1 small bathroom home, 40 gallons is the minimum requirement.  For a 2 or 3-bathroom home, select a 50-gallon gas-powered water heater or a 66- to 80-gallon electric one.  The fact that you will need a larger one if you are going to use an electric water heater is because electric water heaters take longer to heat water up as compared to their gas-powered counterparts.  As for a large 4-bathroom home or a home with an extra-large bathtub, obtain a 75-gallon gas-powered water heater or a 120-gallon electric-powered water heater.

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