The water heater is the home’s unsung hero, reliably operating behind the scenes to make possible many of the modern conveniences we take for granted—hot showers, washing machines, dishwashers, and more. If your existing water heater has outlived its useful life, it’s time to replace it.
While water heater repair or water heater replacement is best left to a professional plumbing provider, like Roto-Rooter, one job that you can do yourself is choosing the right water heater for your home and family. There are many different types of water heaters on the market.
Conventional water heaters, or storage tanks, are the most common type of water heater. They consist of an insulated tank in which water is heated and stored until needed. There is also a temperature and pressure-relief valve, which opens if either exceeds a pre-set level. The T&P valve is a safety feature that prevents your water tank from exploding when pressure reaches 150 pounds per square inch or the temperature climbs to 210 degrees Fahrenheit.
A gas water heater typically uses less energy and costs less to operate than an electric water heater, although gas models cost more at the time of purchase.
Warranty coverage for most water heaters is typically three to 12 years. While you'll usually pay a bit more for longer-warranty models, these models tend to have larger and heavier duty elements or burners that can speed up water heating. They also tend to have thicker insulation in the tank walls to prevent heat loss. We suggest choosing a water heater with the longest warranty available.
The conventional storage water heater includes an insulated storage tank that holds a quantity of heated water, anywhere between 30 and 80 gallons. What powers the appliance depends on the services already present in your home —natural gas, liquid propane, oil, or electricity—can be the fuel source for this type of water heater. Inside the tank, a sensor detects the temperature of the water, and when it drops below an adjustable pre-set level, the unit kicks on to bring the water temperature back up. To prevent scalding and for optimal performance, Roto-Rooter recommends that the temperature be set to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
That process of continual heating goes on 24 hours a day, so you’re essentially paying to heat water even when it isn’t being used. But whenever you need hot water, it’s there in sufficient quantity. A conventional water heater operates by releasing hot water from the top of the tank whenever you turn on a hot water faucet in the house. To replace that hot water, cold water enters the bottom of the water heater tank, ensuring that the tank is always full.
Gas and propane water heaters basically operate the same way A gas burner under the tank heats the water. A thermostat opens the gas valve as the water temperature falls. The valve closes when the temperature rises to the thermostat's set point. Oil-fired water heaters operate similarly, but they have power burners that mix oil and air in a vaporizing mist, ignited by an electric spark. An electric water heater has one or two electric elements, each with its own thermostat. With two electric elements, a standby element at the bottom of the tank maintains the minimum thermostat setting, while the upper demand element provides hot water recovery when demand heightens.
Because water is constantly heated in the tank, energy can be wasted even when a hot water tap isn't running. This is called standby heat loss. Only tankless water heaters—avoid standby heat losses. However, the federal government recently updated standards for water heater manufacturers, ensuring that all models now are better insulated than ever, making them more efficient than older models. This significantly reduces standby heat losses, conserves energy and saves you money on utility bills. If you would like to learn the advantages and disadvantages of conventional and tankless water heaters, take a look at this helpful infographic.
Roto-Rooter can repair your water heater whenever it breaks down. If a replacement water heater is necessary, a Roto-Rooter water heater expert will help you determine which one is right for your home and budget, taking into consideration your family’s water heating needs and energy usage expectations.