furnace with a residential gas water heater & humidifier

You likely have one in your home but don’t give it too much thought unless something goes awry. Hot water heaters are responsible for your hot showers on a cold day. How much do you know about these appliances? Whether you consider yourself savvy, clueless or somewhere in between, we bet you’ll learn a thing or two.

1. What’s considered efficient?

By efficiently heating water and minimizing energy waste, modern hot water heaters can significantly lower your energy usage. This translates into savings on your monthly bills, making them an investment that pays for itself over time.

But not all water heaters are the same. Look for the Energy Star label when shopping for a water heater. This certification indicates that the product meets strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Energy Star-certified water heaters use less energy than standard models, helping curb utility bills and lessen the environmental impact.

Similarly, the EF rating measures the energy efficiency of water heaters. It represents the ratio of the amount of hot water produced compared to the amount of energy consumed. A higher EF rating indicates greater efficiency. For instance, a water heater with an EF of 0.80 produces 0.80 gallons of hot water for every kilowatt-hour of energy used.

2. Which size is best for my household?

Consider the amount of water your household consumes daily. A water heater with a larger capacity may be more efficient if you have a high water demand. However, if your water usage is relatively low, a smaller water heater may be a better option to avoid energy waste.

3. What precautions do I need to take around a hot water heater?

When it comes to your water heater, safety should always be front and center. Here are some precautions to keep in mind:

Ensure that the area around your hot water heater is free from clutter, debris, and any flammable materials. This will help prevent fires and ensure proper ventilation for the appliance.

Never store flammable liquids, gases, or other hazardous materials near your hot water heater. These materials can easily ignite and cause a fire or explosion. Make sure that the area around the appliance is well-ventilated to prevent the buildup of harmful fumes or gases

If you notice any leaks or water pooling around your hot water heater, take immediate action. Turn off the water supply to the appliance and contact a qualified HVAC technician for assistance. Ignoring leaks can lead to water damage and other safety hazards.

Last, regular inspections by a qualified HVAC professional can help identify and address any potential issues with your water heater before they become major problems. This can extend the lifespan of your appliance and ensure safe operation.

4. When do I need to replace my water heater?

While water heaters are built to last, they don’t last forever. On average, a traditional water heater has a lifespan of 10-15 years, while tankless water heaters can last up to 20 years. However, several factors can affect the lifespan of your water heater, including water quality, maintenance, and usage patterns.

If your water heater is more than 10 years old, it’s a good idea to start thinking about replacement. Even if it’s still working, an older water heater is less efficient and more likely to break down.

A leaky water heater is a sign that it needs to be replaced. Leaks can occur from the tank, the pipes, or the valves. If you notice any water around your water heater, it’s important to have it checked out by a professional. Discolored water is a red flag that something is wrong. The same goes for strange noises and strained water pressure.

If you notice any of these signs, call on an HVAC technician to assess your water heater and determine if it needs to be replaced. Ignoring these signs can lead to more acute problems, such as flooding, water damage, and even injuries.

5. What are some common issues affecting water heaters?

One prevalent issue is water leakage. This can occur due to several reasons, such as faulty valves, loose connections, or a damaged water tank. If left unattended, water leaks can lead to water damage and increased water bills. Another common problem is thermostat failure. A faulty thermostat can result in inconsistent water temperatures or an inability to maintain the desired temperature. This not only affects user comfort but can also lead to energy inefficiency.

Sediment buildup is another common issue affecting water heaters. Minerals and sediments from the water supply can accumulate at the bottom of the tank, reducing its efficiency and capacity. This can also contribute to corrosion and rust, which can compromise the integrity of the tank and lead to leaks or even failure. Electrical problems, such as faulty wiring or malfunctioning heating elements, can also affect water heater performance. These issues can be potentially hazardous and should be addressed by a qualified technician immediately.

6. What preventive maintenance tasks do I need to prioritize?

By regularly performing simple tasks, you can extend its lifespan and avoid costly repairs or replacements. One important one is flushing the water heater. This process removes sediment and mineral buildup that can accumulate over time, reducing the heater’s efficiency and causing premature wear. Flushing should be done annually or as recommended by the manufacturer. To flush the water heater, turn off the power or gas supply and attach a hose to the drain valve. Open the valve and allow the water to drain completely. Once the water has stopped flowing, close the valve and restore the power or gas supply.

Additionally, it’s important to check the pressure relief valve regularly to ensure it’s functioning properly. The pressure relief valve is a safety device that releases excess pressure from the water heater tank, preventing it from rupturing. To test the pressure relief valve, lift the lever on the valve and allow a small amount of water to flow out. If water does not flow out, the valve may be faulty and need replacement.

Finally, insulating your water heater can help reduce heat loss and improve energy efficiency. You can purchase a water heater insulation blanket or wrap at most hardware stores. Installing the insulation is a simple process that can be done in a few minutes.

Investing in regular maintenance is a smart choice for HVAC system owners who want to keep their homes comfortable and efficient.

Lingering questions? We’re here to help. Give us a call at (800) 621-6679.