Having a water heater installed in your home or business can be of great comfort to your family and customers. Water heater replacement can be a huge problem.
When Should You Replace Your Water Heater?
Are you are uncertain if your malfunctioning water heater can be repaired or completely broken and needs to be replaced? Below, are some helpful water heater tips to help you troubleshoot your water heater.
Water Heater Basics
The two types of conventional water heaters are: electric and gas. Most electric water heaters can be used just about anywhere. Gas water heaters are installed in homes and businesses that use gas for other appliances, like a furnace or stove. Many times building codes and local zoning issues dictate the placement of gas water heaters, often restricting gas water heaters to obscure areas in a home or business.
In most cases, when an individual replaces a water heater, they replace the water heater with the same type of unit that was there previously. One should always consider upgrade possibilities. Often, one can choose to increase the water heater’s holding capacity. Another very important factor to consider is the energy efficiency of the water heater. When one decides to replacement their water heater, it is the perfect time to take advantage of the opportunity to lower their energy bill by selecting a water heater that is more energy efficient and uses less energy to heat the same amount of water.
When searching for a new water heater, these features should be considered:
- The energy efficiency rating of the water heater. A water heater rating sticker on the side of the new water heater will list the estimated annual energy cost.
- The tank capacity of the water heater. The most common water heater tank sizes are 40 and 50 gallons.
- The water heater recovery rate. This provides information on the number of gallons the water heater will heat in an hour.
- Water Heater Dimensions. This provides the exact measurement dimensions of the water heater. It will inform you of how much physical space the unit will take up.
Before one makes repairs to their water heater or buys a new water heater, they should check the nameplate on the side of their current water heater. They will find valuable information including the tank capacity, water heater installation guidelines, the water heater insulation R-value, working pressure, the model and the serial number of the water heater. If it is an electric water heater, the nameplate on the side of the water heater should also list the wattage capacity and voltage of the heating elements inside the water heater.
The information on the side of the water heater should be a good starting point in searching for replacement parts (if one decides to try and repair the water heater), or the complete replacement unit.
Replace or Repair a Water Heater
Water heaters get a lot of use in most homes and businesses. Based on water heater manufacturer’s suggested service life, the life expectancy of a water heater is anywhere from 8 to 15 years. This will vary in accordance to the severity of local weather and air temperature, the design of the water heater, the quality of installation of the water heater and the level of maintenance the water heater has received over the years.
If a water heater is over 12 years old, leaks around the base of the tank or works sporadically, the water heater most likely needs to be replaced. Always make certain that an electrical problem, such as a blown fuse is not the reason for the failure of the water heater.
Common Water Heater Issues
The most common water heater problem is the water is not as hot enough, or sometimes the water is too hot. Most often, this is caused by a faulty thermostat or a defective heating element inside the water heater.
Below are some basic steps one should follow when the water temperature is erratic.
Electric Water Heaters
- Make sure that the power is connected to the water heater.
- Reset the thermostat to the water heater.
- Flush the heater to remove sediment from the bottom of the water heater tank.
- Insulate the water pipes.
- Replace the heating element in the water heater or the thermostat.
- Raise the temperature setting on the thermostat of the water heater.
Gas Water Heaters
- Make sure the gas is connected the the water heater and the pilot light is lit.
- Flush the water heater to remove sediment from the tank.
- Insulate the water pipes.
- Clean the gas burner and replace the thermocoupler. The thermocoupler is a safety device that shuts off the gas if the pilot light get extinguished.
Typical Water Heater Problems and Quick Fixes:
- Hissing noises from the water heater: Often, sediment collects in the tank. Many times, the solutions is to drain the water heater tank until the water clears. Soak elements in vinegar and scrape collected scale.
- Leaking Water Heater Pressure Relief Valve: Quick fix – replace the valve.
- Leaking Water Supply Pipes to and From the Water Heater: Solutions – tighten the fittings. If that doesn’t work, shut off the water and replace the fittings in the supply pipes.
When Water Heater Replacement is Mandatory
To many, water heater replacement may appear to be pretty straightforward. Essentially, it usually involves putting the new water heater in similar to the old one that is being replaced, including the connection of supply water lines and electric lines or gas lines to the new water heater.
It is always better to call in a plumbing professional that is experienced with water heater replacement. When dealing with water supply lines, gas lines and electricity, do-it-yourself mistakes can be costly, and may be deadly.
Consider the questions below in deciding whether to attempt replacing a water heater yourself:
- How are you going to get rid of the old water heater? Often, there are local disposal codes governing the disposal of water heaters. If you hire a plumbing professional, they will know exactly what to do, and have immediate solutions in place for removing and disposing the old water heater.
- Do you have the ability to physically move the water heater? Water heaters are bulky and heavy. Experienced water heater replacement professionals handle and move water heaters every day. They know exactly what to do, and know all the tricks in moving water heaters.
- Do you have the necessary tools to replace the water heater? The tools necessary for a water heater replacement job are: adjustable wrenches, screwdrivers, a hacksaw, pliers and a propane torch (for soldering) if you have copper piping.
- Knowledge of gas and water lines. If you are a novice, and have never dealt with gas lines before, it is always best to call in a professional to do the job. Experimenting with gas lines can end up be very costly.
- Do you have the time to do the entire job from start to finish? Replacing a water heater is not something you want to do a little at a time. This is not a month long project. Most people need heated water, so once you start the project of replacing a water heater, you will have to finish the job.
The Maintenance of a Water Heater
A water heater manufactured today requires very little maintenance. This being stated, there are many problems that can be avoided with routine water heater upkeep.
Below, are a few helpful water heater maintenance tips that will prolong the life of most water heaters:
- Drain the water heater twice a year. This gets rid of collected sediment inside the water heater. The sediment build up inside the water heater causes corrosion and lower the efficiency of the unit.
- Test the pressure-relief valve on the water heater. Lift the valve’s handle and let it snap back. This should release a burst of water into the overflow drainpipe. If it does not, install a new pressure relief valve on the water heater.
- Lower the temperature setting on the thermostat to 120 degrees. This will reduce the damage to the tank caused by overheating of the water and the unit.
Water Heater Replacement Professionals
It is always best for one to call on the plumbing professionals at Best Plumbers® for all their water heater replacement needs.