Water heaters don’t really get the respect they deserve, even though they endure rigorous use on a daily basis. They aren’t just a convenience, water heaters are a necessity. Water heaters account for nearly 20% of a household’s budget. That isn’t chump change.
Most homeowners don’t realize that water heaters consume a considerable amount of energy, only second to heating and cooling systems. Average yearly costs range from $200 to $900 depending on what energy source the water heater is fueled by, electricity or gas, with natural gas being considerably cheaper than electric-powered water heaters.
Almost every home, apartment or condo in America has at least one water heater. Shockingly, a large percentage of them are old or on the brink of failing altogether, which can lead to serious water damage if not replaced. According to some reports, over 27 million households have water heaters that are over 10 years old. A decade is typically the average lifespan of most water heaters. Give or take a few years depending on its usage and the type of water heater you decide to install in your home.
There are warning signs to look for when your water heater could be overdue for maintenance or needs to be replaced entirely. With all of these factors to consider, it begs the question, what water heater is right for my home, lifestyle, and requirements? Let’s go over the different types of water heaters, fuel sources and costs.
Reasons to Replace Your Water Heater
As we stated before, knowing when to replace your water heater is extremely important. It is understandable that most homeowners put off replacing their water heaters due to cost and the hassle of it all. But inaction could lead to far more costly consequences. If your water heater ruptures, it could flood your home causing extensive water damage and will force you to replace more than just your water heater. Here are some things to look for and consider before you go shopping for a new water heater.
- Age – The average age of a water heater is ten years. If your water heater is over ten years old, you may want to have a professional plumber come to your home and inspect it before firmly deciding on whether it is time to get a new water heater or hold off for another year.
- Leaks & Rust – Sadly, if you suspect your water heater is leaking, it is most likely time to replace it. One sign that your tank has corroded to the point of leaking is that you’ll see signs of rust along the rims at the top or bottom of the tank. If you don’t act right away you run the risk of it rupturing and gallons of water flooding your home, basement or utility closet. If your water heater bursts, it will cause water damage and cost you even more money than simply replacing the unit. Call around to get a quote on a new water heater and installation.
- Lack of Hot Water – Having access to hot water is the central function of a water heater, so when it isn’t delivering hot water to your home, it is cause for concern. But before you go calling a professional plumber, first check to see that the pilot light is on. The pilot light should be visible towards the base of your water heater, either through a small finger-sized glass window or opening. If you don’t see an open flame present, then it’s time to pick up the phone and call a professional.
- Sediment in Tank – Most water heater issues start to flare up when a build-up of sediment is present in the tank. This happens when the minerals in the water supply start to calcify and start to collect in the tank of the water heater. To prevent corrosive build-up, it is suggested that you periodically flush out your water heater.
- Foul-Smelling Water – If you are smelling a foul odor coming from your sinks and showers, it could mean that there are bacteria in the basin of your water heater. The smell would have a fairly pungent odor and smell like rotting eggs. While it is not a huge cause for concern it is important that you tend to it promptly. Foul-smelling water can also be remedied by flushing the tank of the water heater with a mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide.
Consider the Capacity & Tank Size Your Household Needs
Even though tankless water heaters are growing in popularity, the most common water heater found in most homes is a storage-tank water heater. These particular water heaters hold gallons of water in their tank, so the size of that tank is a major consideration. This will all depend on how much hot water your household uses on a daily basis and how many people are living under one roof.
If you have a traditional water heater, which is a storage-tank water heater, use the following as a guide to decide what size tank you should install in your home. One very important detail to look for is the ‘recovery rate’. The recovery rate indicates how many gallons of water can be heated each hour. If you live in a home that uses a lot of hot water, whether for showering, dishes or laundry, then you’ll want to choose a water heater with a higher ‘recovery rate’.
Minimum Recommendations for Gallon Capacity
Gas-Powered Water Heaters:
- For households of 1 to 2 people, your water heater should hold a minimum of 30 gallons
- For households of 2 to 4 people, your water heater should hold a minimum of 40 gallons
- Households of 5 or more people, your water heater should hold a minimum of 50 gallons
Electric-Powered Water Heaters:
- For households of 1 to 2 people, your water heater should hold a minimum of 30 gallons.
- For households of 2 to 3 people, your water heater should hold a minimum of 40 gallons.
- For households of 3 to 4 people, your water heater should hold a minimum of 50 gallons.
- Households of 5 or more, your water heater should hold a minimum of 80 gallons.
What Fuel Source Makes Sense for Your Home?
When shopping for a new water heater, no matter the size of your household, you’ll need to understand what fuel source is appropriate for your home. It mostly comes down to availability and affordability. Natural gas and electricity are the most common fuel sources for water heaters, with natural gas being the least costly. Propane is also an option, but that is more expensive than natural gas.
If you do not have natural gas in your area, or it isn’t an option, then electricity will most likely be your choice. In this case, you’ll need to consider what the ‘service load’ of your dwelling is. This can usually be found on your main breaker panel, but can also be calculated by your electrician.
Most professional plumbers and water heater experts will have resources on-hand to help you decide how much power is needed to maintain a constant source of hot water in your home.
If you have decided to opt for a tankless water heater, and you want to use natural gas, you’ll have to consider that most tankless water heaters require smaller gas lines than your typical natural gas lines provide. There are some companies that manufacture tankless water heaters that are made with a lower BTU rating and will accommodate most existing natural gas infrastructure, but it is best to check before buying a tankless water heater. Bottom line, natural gas is the more affordable option if your home and neighborhood already have natural gas lines installed.
Types of Water Heaters
There are 5 types of water heaters, some more common than others. Here is a quick list of the different kinds of water heaters, how they work and whether they are a good fit for your home.
1. Conventional Storage Tank Water Heater – This is a popular choice amongst homeowners and is the one we generally visualize when we think of a water heater. A tank-style water heater works exactly like you think it does. The water is heated inside the tank and kept warm until you need to use it. Conventional water heaters feature two valves, a temperature control dial, and a pressure control valve. This is to ensure the temperature of the water isn’t scalding, and that the pressure doesn’t exceed 150 psi. The only drawback of these traditional water heaters is that you are limited to the hot water in the tank. If you use all of the hot water you’ll need to wait for the tank to fill and heat up again. Pausing in between showers and not running the dishwasher or laundry when you’re in the shower should help you avoid this problem.
2. Tankless Water Heater (On-Demand Water Heater) – Tankless water heaters are quickly becoming the choice of those looking for energy efficiency. As the name suggests, a tankless water heater doesn’t have a holding tank and takes up far less space. Because these water heaters heat the water as it flows through the system, you have access to an unlimited supply of hot water. These exceptional pieces of machinery work well in homes that use natural gas, although larger models require a larger gas line and more gas to run correctly. Tankless water heaters cost far less to operate.
3. Heat Pump Water Heater (Hybrid Water Heater) – This is a less common choice for homeowners even though they use up to 60% less electricity than conventional water heaters. One drawback is that heat pump water heaters require up to 8 feet of clearance and take up a substantial amount of space. It functions by pumping the water through a tube in the ground or air to naturally warm the water. As you can imagine heat pump water heaters are not ideal for homes in colder climates as it relies on the ground and outside climate to warm the water.
4. Solar Powered Water Heater – The solar-powered water heater is the ultimate for eco-friendly homeowners. Water is heated by way of a closed-loop system that contains heat conductors that effectively heat the water. These innovative water heaters can save your family a ton of money and are a great choice for those that live in sunnier parts of the country. The one drawback is that you may need to install a back-up water heater to compensate for the solar-powered water heater during the gloomier seasons.
5. Condensing Water Heater – These water heaters are a great choice for a home that already has natural gas as its primary energy source. It comes with a tank much like the conventional water heaters, but the heat source is the exhaust of the natural gas system. The gas gets routed and funneled through coils at the basin of the tank to heat the water. It still requires you to purchase a tank large enough to suit your family’s needs, but it uses a lot less energy to heat the water in the tank.
Who to Call for Water Heater Installation in Los Angeles?
Call Detour Plumbing Santa Clarita for Professional Water Heater Replacement
When your water heater is acting up and you can’t seem to pinpoint the problem, it is definitely time to call a professional plumbing company that repairs and installs new water heaters. Detour Plumbing has been providing Santa Clarita and surrounding areas with superior plumbing and water heater services for years now. We will have one of our licensed plumbers at your home in hours to assess the problem and offer affordable solutions to your water heater problems.
We will conduct a full water heater inspection to check burner assembly, inspect/repair the exhaust flue of a gas or electric water heater, and inspect the unit for leaks or corrosion.
We also make any necessary repairs and replace your old unit with a newer, more efficient water heater, starting with a free estimate.