Is It Time to Update Your Water Heater?



A water heater malfunction is one of those household emergencies that catch us off guard. It’s highly unlikely that you will have a spare lying around and this can lead to uncomfortable situations if you need to shower, wash something urgently or, worse yet, if you have guests for the weekend. If the time has finally come to change your water heater, here’s what you need to do.  

Should you change it before it malfunctions?

While it is unlikely that a heater replacement crosses your mind before it finally fumbles, you might be able to time it right if you write down when it has been fitted. Majority of water heaters have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years, so as soon as it becomes a decade old, you should invite a plumber to assess the situation. If it’s in bad shape, you can proceed to change it and you will save yourself a headache.

Be specific about the type

The first thing you should do if your water heater breaks is figure out what type it is. Even if you’re completely unfamiliar with the technical details of maintaining and installing water heaters, you should have a broad idea of the type of heater that has been fitted in your bathroom. Is it electric or gas? Has it been integrated with your heating system or is it stand-alone? Is it storage or demand? You should know the answers to each of these questions before you proceed with the purchase and hiring of professional help.

Consider alternatives

If your old electric water heater has broken down, look into alternatives that might contribute financially. Check if you are eligible for an installation of gas hot water unit, especially if the surrounding houses are already using natural gas. In addition, if you have decided to go green, it’s not that complicated to find an ENERGY STAR model of gas-powered heaters, and they are usually of storage variety.

Measure your options carefully

Propane-fired and oil-fired heaters will definitely cost less over time, but keep in mind that the initial costs of installation can get quite steep, especially if you have decided to go with an oil-fired model. However, before you get rid of the old electrical model, contact your utility company and check if they may have some neat off-peak rates to offer. In this case, the local utility company will measure the expenditure of electricity in your water heater separately, with an independent meter.

Storage water heaters

Storage water heaters are quite a common type worldwide and the way they work is fairly straightforward – by heating water in a well-insulated tank. Older models used to be less efficient due to the gradual loss of temperature through the walls of the storage tank and pipes – known as standby heat loss and distribution loss respectively. Such storage water heaters became a norm in many parts of the world in spite of these downsides, but newer models have much better insulation which at least solves standby heat loss.

Demand water heaters

Demand water heaters are also known as “instantaneous” for a good reason – they do not have a storage tank. Basically, electrical grid ignites and gas burner heats the water on demand – hence the name. The upside of this is that water never runs out, however this also means that the flow rate may be limited. In spite of this, if you are considering this type of water heater for our home, keep in mind that they are not appropriate for every situation. They can get quite inefficient in delivering enough hot water if numerous family members live in the house and they require the use of water simultaneously – for example, one in the kitchen, the other under the shower, and another one using the yard faucet.

The worst thing you can do in situations like these is to let anxiety get the better of you. It is perfectly understandable that you need a new heater as soon as possible; after all, we have gotten used to such civilizational luxuries as a constant flow of heated water. Take your time to look for the proper heater that fulfils all your needs, and you will be rewarded for every bit of research you do before cashing out.

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