Homeowner’s Guide to Water Heaters
What would you do if the seemingly-endless water supply in your home suddenly stopped? Most people don’t think about their water heaters until something goes wrong and the hot water they took for granted runs out.
Don’t worry. We’ve created this Homeowner’s Guide to Water Heaters to arm you with the information you’ll need to save money, water, and hassle with the right water heater in your home.
What Is a Water Heater?
A water heater uses either electricity or gas to heat and deliver water to several sources in your home. It sends hot water to your faucets, dishwasher, laundry machine, and other appliances.
There are several types of water heaters:
- Traditional storage tank
Traditional Storage Tank Water Heaters
Traditional water heaters are big, insulated tanks that hold hot water until you turn on a faucet or other water source. Cold water is pumped into the tank and then heated by a gas flame or electric source within the tank itself.
The temperature is regulated and excess pressure is released if necessary via an external valve. When you need hot water, it is pushed out of the tank and delivered to you through your home’s internal pipes.
Once the supply of hot water within the tank is gone, more cold water refills the tank and the process starts all over.
Traditional water heaters range in size to meet your needs. You can either choose to install a tall water heater (Tall Boy) or a short water heater (Short Boy) depending on the amount of hot water you will need.
Tall Boys are usually between 50 and 76 inches tall and hold up to 100 gallons of water. They are great for places that don’t have height restrictions, such as a garage or basement.
Short Boys are usually between 30 and 49 inches tall and hold up to 50 gallons of water. These are perfect for fitting under counters or in smaller spaces.
The downside of having a traditional water heater is that they only have a limited supply of hot water. When you need a lot of hot water at once, you may run out and have to wait until the tank has reheated. Tanks also burn a lot of energy using gas or electricity to keep the water supply at a consistent temperature.
Tankless Water Heaters
A tankless heater is a much smaller unit that doesn’t need a big bulky tank to produce hot water. These units are typically more expensive, but they save about 27—50% of fuel costs per year. Since there is no tank, the water is filtered in through a flow sensor and then the unit begins producing hot water.
Hybrid Water Heaters
Hybrid water heaters also use tanks to heat your water. Hybrid models have an external electric heat pump mounted to the top of the storage tank. The electric pump uses a compact compressor and evaporator coil to pull in air and transfer heat to incoming cold water.
One of the main benefits of having a hybrid water heater is that it decreases energy use by 60%. Super-savers rejoice!
The downside? Hybrids cost almost twice as much as a traditional water heater. While you see a higher upfront cost, most people see that money come back within the next three to four years due to lower gas and electric bills.
Some companies even offer rebates for installing a hybrid water heater.
Point-of-Use Water Heaters
Tired of sitting around in your towel waiting for the shower to warm up? The point-of-use water heater eliminates the need to wait for heated water in a single location, i.e. a sink or shower. A compact, tankless unit installed near the point-of-use provides immediate hot water.
These models are electric and are normally used to provide hot water to a location far away from the main water heater. Simply plug the unit in and enjoy hot water at the turn of a tap.
Which Brand of Water Heater Should I Buy?
There are several brands of water heaters out there. At Shamrock Plumbing, we can repair or install all major brands of water heaters including:
If you need help deciding which brand is best for you, give us a call and we’ll walk through your options!
How Often Should I Repair or Replace My Water Heater?
Most people install a water heater and then never think twice about it… until it stops working completely. Maintaining your water heater and keeping it clean will help your unit last longer and perform better.
The lifetime of your unit will depend on the model you’ve chosen. Average lifespans of water heaters vary, but generally look like this:
- Traditional tank water heater: ~8-12 years
- Tankless water heater: ~20 years
- Hybrid water heater: ~13-15 years
- Point-of-use unit: ~ 25+ years
- Your water is not hot
- You are running out of hot water too quickly
- Your water heater is leaking
- Your unit is making noises
- Your water stinks
- Your water isn’t clear
If you think that your water heater may need to be repaired or replaced, contact a professional to get the problem diagnosed. Some common indicators that you may need a new water heater are:
There are some simple troubleshooting tips you can try at home, but it’s important to remember that most water heater problems should be accurately diagnosed and repaired by a certified professional. To be safe, let our expert staff here at Shamrock Plumbing help you out!
Shamrock Plumbing Is Your Water Heater Resource!
Shamrock Plumbing is here to help. We have been trusted installation and repair experts in Utah for over 30 years. If you’re interested in learning more about what we can do for you, give us a call or request a quote!