Water Heaters and You

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Your water heater is something that is easily forgotten in the hustle and bustle of daily living. It’s easily taken for granted as we assume that a hot shower in the morning or evening is as much a given in our life as breathing.

You can imagine the panic and urgency in a customer’s voice when they call us after discovering that they have no hot water or the basement floor is wet from a leaking hot water heater. Their world has taken a hit and they have no time for this interruption in their life and are not looking forward to the $$ needed to correct the problem. A few things to ponder regarding your water heater:

1. The typical life of a water heater is 10-15 years, but 5% don’t make it to the 6 year warranty.

2. Your water ph level can affect the life of your water heater. Acidic water or softened water can shorten the water heaters life as they eat away and corrode the anode rod.

3. The anode rod is the “sacrificial lamb” of the water heater. As long as it is in good shape, the water heater won’t leak.

4. You can extend the life of your water heater by having the anode rod checked every couple of years and replaced if it has lost its capacity to protect your water heater.

5. If you have a finished basement a leaking and undetected water heater can cause thousands of dollars of damage. That is one of the reasons you should have someone check your house when you are on vacation.

6. You can have a “Flood Stop” system installed for your water heater which will shut off the water supply to the water heater if it begins to leak.

7. Water heaters come in all shapes and sizes. The most expensive to operate are electric units.  Gas units operate at about 1/3 the cost however everyone doesn’t have gas so a gas unit may not be an option.

8. You can insulate an electric water heater to cut operating costs. Think of a big thermos… so the more insulation the longer it stays hot and the less it runs to maintain temperature. You can insulate it yourself with kits available at hardware stores or just wrap it with vats of fiberglass insulation. Because gas units operate so cheaply and need air for the gas burner to function, it is not cost effective to insulate them.

9. If you need to replace your water heater consider units with a longer warranty then the standard 6 year warranty. Units are available with 8 year, 12 year, and lifetime warranties. The 8 and 12 year heaters are basically the same units but have larger anode rod for the 8 year unit and an additional anode rod for the 12 year unit. These of course are more expensive than the standard unit.

10. “Mercedes” water heaters – as with any purchase – water heaters come with varying features and technology.  Top notch units last longer, operate cheaper, recover more quickly, and are more efficient. Of course, such water heaters do cost $1,000-$2,000 more than standard water heaters. At this price point, we recommend heat pump water heaters (electric) and Eternal water heaters (gas).

These are the main things you need to know about water heaters. If you have more questions or want to discuss upgrading your water heater, please contact us.