Every time you wake up in the morning and enjoy a hot shower you can thank your hot water heater. When you put your dishes in the dishwasher on hot water cycle to ensure they are sanitized, you can thank your water heater.
If you get a freezing shower or cold sink, it might be time for a water heater repair. Just like any other appliance in your home, your water heater requires attention, maintenance and occasional repairs to keep it running effectively.
To keep your family safe and comfortable, it’s important to keep your water heater in working condition, and to choose a system that fits your needs. A small water heater repair today can prevent bigger problems tomorrow due to neglect of the system.
Common Water Heater Repairs
The best way to prevent major problems with your water heater is to pay attention and take care of small water heater repairs before they get bigger. Here are a few signs that indicate that you need to call a plumber to schedule a water heater repair.
- Water Leaking from the Top – This could be a simple loose or leaky valve and is generally easy to fix.
- Water Leaking from the Bottom – It’s normal for some leaking from the bottom to occur because of natural condensation, but a significant leak may be an indicator of something more.
- No Hot Water – If the water heater isn’t heating, that’s a clear indication of a problem. Usually it’s something like a circuit breaker, but if that’s not the issue you may need to replace your heating element(s).
- Not Enough Hot Water – Sometimes you can get hot water, but it’s just not enough or doesn’t last more than a few minutes. It may be a thermostat issue, faulty element, or loose wiring, all of which can be easily repaired.
- Water is Too Hot – This is a rare issue, but is usually a problem with the thermostat which can be replaced if necessary.
- Water Takes Too Long to Reheat – This is a natural downside of electric water heaters. Because of the time it takes to heat your full supply of water, it can take quite a bit of time to get hot water in your pipes. Gas models heat water about twice as quick as electric.
- Low Hot Water Pressure – If you notice the water pressure decreases the hotter it gets, it may be automatically limited because of the size of your pipes. It may also be caused by sediment, calcium, and/or rust.
- Water Heater is Making Strange Noises – Generally the water heater should work in silence, but if you hear popping, hissing, banging, or knocking it may be time to get it looked at by a professional.
- Dirty or Rusty Colored Water – This is usually a sign of corrosion, and can be repaired fairly easily, but left unattended it can corrode your entire tank.
- Smelly Hot Water – Odors are often caused by bacteria, which can be caused by flushing the water heater out. If that doesn’t work you may need to replace the anode rod.
- Pilot Light Will Not Light – If the pilot light won’t light at all or won’t stay lit, it may be due to a clogged orifice or a loose thermocouple. Either way it’s a simple replacement or water heater repair.
The lifespan of the average water heater is between 10-15 years, and can be much longer with proper maintenance, but if you find your unit requiring more extensive water heater repairs, it might be time for a replacement.
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Water Heater Installation: How to Select the Perfect One
When it’s time for a water heater installation, it can be confusing to know how to best select a new one. Gas or electric? How big is too big? And what’s an efficiency rating? You can read endless reviews on the internet or talk to neighbors and friends, but it’s still hard to know which one will work best in your home.
We’ve broken down the four main components of any water heater and what to look for when selecting the best type and model for your next water heater installation.
Fuel type, availability, and cost:
There are two types of fuel for water heaters – gas or electric. The difference is in how the water is actually heated. This is often determined by the area in which you live. If you have natural gas lines to your home, this is likely the fuel source for your water heater. Gas water heaters are less energy-efficient, but the cost of electricity can still make gas less expensive.
You need to find the right size of water heater for your home and family needs. You can use a simple calculation to determine the needs of your household based on your home’s peak time of water usage. To do this, count the number of people/bedrooms in your household and add one – multiply that number by 12, the estimated gallons of hot water each person will use. The average water heater for a family of 5+ is around 50 gallons.
Water heaters are given an energy efficiency rating that tells you how much energy it will use to run the heater on a daily basis. You want to find a balance between high energy efficiency and budget-friendly cost.
Of course, you need a water heater that fits into your budget, but be sure to calculate the annual operating costs in addition to cost of the unit and labor for your water heater installation.
How Much Does a Water Heater Cost?
The national average of a new water heater is $1,083. This can vary greatly between the style of unit you choose There are five main styles of water heater available. Each one has a specific purpose and it’s important to consult with a professional plumber to see what will work best in your area before making a decision.
Different Types of Water Heaters
- Conventional Storage Tank Water Heater
This is the most popular water heater and the one most of us are familiar with. It has a large tank that holds the water to be heated, which determines how much hot water you have available at once. Conventional water heaters are typically fairly affordable and is a simple water heater installation process, but on the flip side, if the tank is too small, you may run out and have to wait for the next tank to be heated.
- Tankless Water Heater (On-Demand Water Heater)
The “tankless” water heater is making a big move in many homes because it offers nearly endless hot water for your home. Because there is no tank, the water is heated on demand as you need it. This makes it great for heating water quickly, even for large families. Tankless heaters can run off of natural gas or electric, depending on what fuel source you have in your home. Maintenance is simple and they are energy efficient because they only heat water on demand instead of holding heated water even when it is not being used. The biggest downside is that the initial cost is higher than other water heaters.
- Heat Pump Water Heater (Hybrid Water Heater)
This water heater hybrid uses the heat in the air and in the ground to heat your water. It uses electricity and is the most energy efficient option using up to 60 percent less electricity than traditional heaters, but is also the most expensive water heater installation. It takes up quite a bit of space and is only recommended for warm climates.
- Solar Powered Water Heater
A solar powered water heater is a great idea if you already have solar panels or are considering adding them. By relying on roof-mounted solar panels, energy is transferred to a closed loop system containing a heat-conductive material, to heat the water in the tank. This can save lots of money for those who live in warm, sunny climates. However, this system often requires a backup plan for cloudy days, which can be a hassle to install two systems.
- Condensing Water Heater
This water heater uses your home’s unused gas fumes to heat your water making it a great choice if you already use natural gas as your primary energy source. The heated exhaust is funneled from the natural gas system to a hot water tank much like the conventional version of the water heater. This is usually the most energy efficient version for families who already use natural gas, but it is not easily available in smaller models and works best for families that need a capacity of over 55 gallons.
Finding Your Water Heater Professional
Keeping a reliable water heater is essential to the comfort and safety of your family. Whether you need an annual maintenance checkup, a simple water heater repair, or a new water heater system, a professional plumber can help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
Using our simple contractor selector, you can find the best plumbers in town with just a swipe, scroll and click to get connected with a contractor you can trust.