Almost all homeowners in the United States have a water heater. This appliance is essential to everyday activities like cooking, cleaning, and bathing. However, most people don’t really know much about their water heater or how it works. That’s why Carter Services is answering your top water heater FAQs. Keep reading for what you need to know, and remember that for all your water heater and general plumbing needs, you can trust our experienced team at Carter Services.
5 FAQs About Water Heaters
- How Many Types of Water Heaters Are There? Broadly speaking, there are two main types of water heaters: traditional tank water heaters and tankless water heaters. Within these distinctions, there are some sub-categories that allow you to mix and match, but when most people go to buy a new water heater, they will be selecting between these two options. Traditional water heaters store your water heater in a tank, and heat it again and again whenever your system is in use. Tankless water heaters, on the other hand, are point-of-use systems. This means that they heat your water as it flows through your pipes.
- Which Type of Water Heater Is Right for Me? Answering this question is tough, because it all depends on the needs of your household. Tank water heaters are cheaper to install and repair, and have traditionally provided hot water quicker. Tankless water heaters, meanwhile, are more expensive when it comes to installation and service, though they require less maintenance, as there is no tank that needs to be flushed out. They also tend to last longer than tank water heaters, take up less space, and because they do not re-heat your water continuously, are more energy-efficient. Perhaps the biggest advantage of tankless water heaters, however, is that they provide a continuous supply of hot water—this means you will not have to worry about the water suddenly going cold during your morning shower.
- What Size Water Heater Do I Need? For a household of 1-2 people, a traditional water heater with a 30-gallon tank will usually do the trick. For a household of 2-3 people, you probably want to upgrade to 30-40 gallons. For a family of four, you’ll want a water tank that holds at least 40 gallons, and oftentimes, it’s best to get a tank that holds around 50. And for households or five of more, a 50-80 gallon tank should do it, depending on your water use. As mentioned above, tankless water heaters are generally smaller in size, so this is not the determining factor when it comes to selecting one. Instead, you will want to pay attention to your water heater’s flow rate. This is measured in GPM, or gallons per minute. The more people in your home, the higher GPM your water heater should have. Granted, tankless water heaters have traditionally not been able to supply enough hot water for big properties, though thanks to modern advances, there are now some units that can accommodate larger families.
- When Is It Time to Replace My Water Heater? Traditional water heaters generally last 8-12 years. As we have already stated, tankless systems tend to have a longer lifespan, with some models lasting up to 20 years. If you do not know how old your water heater is, you can usually find out by locating the serial number on the unit and looking up when that model was manufactured. Besides factoring in age, there may be other signs it’s time to replace your water heater, such as rusty water or increased sediment build-up on your appliances, loud noises coming from your water heater tank or pipes, strange smells emitting from your water heater or water, and visible damage or leaks in the unit.
- How Do I Get the Most Out of My Water Heater? If you have a tank water heater, one of the best ways to increase your system’s lifespan is to flush the tank out several times a year to prevent sediment build-up (you can flush out a tankless water heater too, though this is a more involved process that will require professional assistance.) You can also limit shower times, especially in the winter, when your system has to work harder to provide the hot water you need. Beyond that, just make sure to call a technician whenever something seems off with your water heater. At Carter Services, our licensed plumbers know how to address a range of issues, and are experts at providing affordable solutions designed to get your water heater up and running again ASAP.