Water Heater Purchasing and Maintenance

Water heaters are often taken for granted until they stop working. On rare occasions, there may be a sign that something is going wrong: the water might not be as hot as usual, or there might be a popping sound in the water heater’s tank as it begins to warm up. This is likely an indicator that some sediment has built up at the bottom of the tank. More often than not, however, there will be absolutely no indication that the water heater has a problem. That’s why some preventative maintenance is critical in order to keep the water heater working properly.


First of all, water heater manufacturers recommend that the tank should be flushed on a regular basis. This allows any sediment that has built up at the bottom of the tank to be removed. Hard water is very common in our area, which can shorten the life of the tank while also making it less effective at heating water. If you don’t flush your tank on a regular basis, it will become nearly impossible to remove the accumulated sediment once it has hardened. Accumulated sediment in the tank will simply end up costing you more money.


Next, water heaters have a sacrificial anode rod in them so the corrosive properties of the water will act upon the rod instead of attacking the wall of the tank. This rod needs to be inspected, since it is critical for maximizing the tank’s lifespan. When we visit your home to maintain the water heater, we will check the burners, check the operation of the gas valve (for gas water heaters), and check the thermostats and elements (for electric water heaters). By making sure these components are all operating properly, many surprise issues will be prevented.

Buying a New Water Heater


When the time has come to replace your water heater, this is the perfect opportunity to consider whether or not you have adequate water capacity. It may be a good idea to think about purchasing a larger (or maybe smaller) sized tank. Tank water heaters supply a limited amount of hot water, and once the tank has been depleted there is a period of recovery time where no hot water will be available.


The main point to consider is how much hot water your household needs. Contributing factors to hot water usage are the number of people who live at the home, the number of bathrooms, whether there are any large garden tubs, etc. If you have any questions, we would be happy to assist you in figuring out the best water tank size for your home.


Additionally, there’s the choice between electric/gas, and tank/tankless water heaters. Technology is rapidly improving—most people are familiar with traditional electric water heaters, but there are now electric hybrid water heaters on the market. They function like a heat pump in your house, but instead of heating air, they transfer heat to the water. These electric hybrid water heaters are extremely economical to run.


There are also traditional tanked gas water heaters that can be vented in the chimney or power vented out of a side wall. Tankless water heaters offer the advantage of never running out of available hot water. Additionally, tankless water heaters only power on when you need hot water (traditional tank water heaters can be thought of as keeping a tea kettle warm on your stove all day long just in case you wanted a hot cup of tea).

Expected Lifespan

Tanked water heaters have the same lifespan regardless of whether they use electricity or gas. Tankless water heaters have a longer lifespan than tanked water heaters, but they also require maintenance such as flushing to prevent buildup from hard water. Solar water heater systems have the longest lifespan. Both the solar panels and the tank itself will last significantly longer than the components of a traditional water heating system.


Unfortunately, we don’t know when a water heater will fail. It may just stop heating water because it is so old. Other times, it can spring a leak—either big or small. There are situations where a homeowner returns from a long day of work to find a huge flood. Not only did the water heater leak its contents, but it continued to dump up to 45 gallons of water per minute because the water supply was not shut off.


Many people prefer to proactively change their water heater before it has a chance to fail. Another option is a flood safe system, which is a pan that has an integrated sensor. If the water heater ever were to leak, this sensor would automatically shut off the water going into the system to prevent a catastrophic leak from occurring. This is a small investment to pay, especially if the water heater is in a finished basement.


If you would like us to help you maintain your existing water heater or install a new water heater, give us a call today.