Rosie on the House : What to know about water heaters

Using a timer for your water heater will keep hot water ready when you need it and save on energy use.

Water heaters 101:

Water Heaters are a hard-working appliance in every home. Having enough hot water in your home is essential to keeping everything clean and sanitized. To make sure that your home has enough hot water when it is needed for a good hot shower, load of laundry, or washing dishes, take the time to learn which water heater is best in your situation.

Let’s review the types of water heaters, the pros and cons of each and their care.

• Gas and Electric Water heater: These are the most common water heaters. They consist of a big tank with heating elements, or a flame. The water is fed into the tank where it is kept warm until there is a demand for hot water.

A tank of the basic water heater comes in different sizes — the most common sizes are 40 and 50 gallons. There is generally a 6 -year warranty on these tanks.

Challenges:

• Keeping water heated 24 hours a day can add a significant amount to the energy portion of your electric bill.

• When all of the hot water that is in the tank is drained it can take a while to reheat.

• Hot water can take a long time to feel hot at your faucet or shower.

• recirculating pumps or timers can be installed to help alleviate these issues.

• Heat pump water heaters: These units are not as well-known as traditional units. They work on the same principle as heat pumps that heat your home. A combination of coils and refrigerant are used to heat the water as opposed to heating elements. Heat pump water heaters use less energy and hold a 10-year warranty.

Challenges:

• They cost about twice the amount of a traditional unit but, return on investment can be reached in 4 years.

• The technology requires a bigger housing for the water heater. Some are quite a bit taller than traditional element style units. Others actually come in 2 pieces also requiring more space. This could mean that you would need to expand the water heater closet in order to accommodate their size.

• Tankless water heaters are units that do not store water. Instead, the tankless heating unit hangs on the wall heating water as it passes through a heat exchanger. This process allows for endless hot water, shower after shower. The unit hangs on the wall in the same area as the traditional water heater. The warranty ranges from 10 to 15 years depending on the make and model. Tankless water heaters are available in both gas and electric, but most plumbers we know prefer the gas units. Ask your plumber for advice if your only choice is electric.

Rosie on the House : What to know about water heaters

Tankless water heaters supply an endless supply of hot water on demand.

Challenges:

• If there are more than 2 users at a time on the unit, it can have a difficult time keeping up demand.

• Cathey says the gas line that goes to your traditional water heater will sometimes need to be exchanged for a larger diameter one. Otherwise, installation is pretty basic.

• Maintenance

No matter what type of unit you have, maintaining your water heater is important. After all, water heaters never give out at a convenient time! We have observed that people who plan for replacement, of any home appliance, are more inclined to choose units that fit their home and lifestyle. Making a choice during an emergency usually ends with a decision that is less than optimal.

Suggestions for maintenance:

• Install a water softener. It will extend the life of your water heater and keep it running more efficiently.

Note: a water softener is required for the warranty to be honored on a tankless unit for most manufacturers.

• For tank heaters, traditional and heat pump units:

Check the anode rod every 2 years. Water tanks will rust out over time but, the anode rod is made of softer metals of magnesium and zinc and will dissolve before the hard metal of the tank. Replacing this “sacrificial rod” will continue to keep the tank from rusting.

• Elements need to be checked for continuity.

• Drain and flush annually.

• Add a drain pan and a leak detection sensor. These 2 items will go a long way to protect your home from water damage should the unit give out.

*Many sensors have an app for smart phones allowing you to monitor the unit even while on vacation!

Professional Plumbing Inspection:

It is a good idea to have a professional plumber out to your home annually. For a fee a trusted plumber will service your water heater, check your home water pressure, check toilet and valves, and inspect faucets and under sinks. There is great comfort in knowing that your plumbing is in good working order!

Join Rosie on the House every Saturday morning from 8 to 11 a.m. on KTAR News 92.3. If you’d like to send us questions or comments, email Info@RosieontheHouse.com. Follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook. For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert since 1988, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program. Call 888-767-4348 with questions & comments.