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Water Heater FAQs
What are Tankless Water Heaters?
A tankless water heater is one that uses direct heating to only heat the water you need. They are slightly more expensive to install than tank water heaters, but unlike tank water heaters you can place them anywhere in your home. They are portable and are much more energy efficient, especially if you don’t use hot water at a consistent rate.
If you’re interested in a tankless hot water heater or want to know if one is right for you, the first thing to do is measure your average hot water use. You also need to take into account the number of places where hot water is needed and you should discuss potential pitfalls of tankless heating with a professional technician.
How Often Should I Replace My Hot Water Heater?
A hot water heater needs to be replaced about once every 10 years, though some newer models can last as long as 15–20 years with proper maintenance. To get the most out of your system, annual maintenance is important.
During these annual service visits, basic cleaning and maintenance is done to replace worn out parts and check for any looming problems with your water heater that may require replacement in the near or immediate future.
Do I Need Help with Installation?
A hot water heater is one of the simplest pieces of equipment you’ll have installed in your home, but it should be done by a professional for a number of reasons. First, you must understand and follow all local building codes, not only for installation, but for possible future inspections. If your hot water heater is gas or oil fueled, safety is of the utmost importance.
Second, you must have your old hot water heater disposed of. A professional has the resources to dispose of your hot water heater for much less money than it would cost you, and it’s less of a hassle as well. Professionals are also better equipped to deal with factors like proper insulation, secondary heating sources, and backup water supplies.
How Hot Should My Water Be?
Hot water heating should be done according to your particular needs, but most people have their tanks set too high. The default setting on many hot water heaters is 140°F. This is about 20°F warmer than is necessary for household tasks like showering, washing dishes or cleaning clothes. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions or have a professional help you turn your hot water temperature down to no more than 120°F.
How Do I Know if There Is a Problem?
The most common sign that there’s a problem in your hot water heater is a lack of hot water. If you notice your hot water supply dropping sharply or if it doesn’t last nearly as long as it once did, it may be time for additional service.
You can perform some basic maintenance on your own as well. You should remove sediment from your hot water heater at least once per year by following the manufacturer’s instructions. This usually involves simply turning off the device and draining it through a tap provided at the base. If you have hard water, this should be done more frequently, sometimes as often as every six months.
However, if basic maintenance does not solve the problem, it’s time to call a professional to check your hot water heater for problems that may have developed since their last visit.
Can I Use Alternative Energy Sources?
There are a number of alternative hot water heating sources these days. The most common is currently solar powered hot water, which uses simple panels on your roof to collect the energy from the sun to heat your water. Another popular method is to use the excess heat generated by a geothermal heat pump when cooling your house in the summer. Ask your plumber when they arrive about these alternative options and to find out if they can be incorporated into your particular system.