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Need Help With Your Water Heater?
The water heater also known to many as the hot water heater is something we seldom think about.
Day after day, and year over year, you turn the hot water on and it works. However, If you've ever been taking a shower and suddenly get hit with a blast of cold water, you can appreciate the value of having an adequate hot water heater.
Most Connecticut homeowners don't know how their hot water system works or even if their current water heater is adequate to fit their needs. If your water heater is very old on not big enough to handle your home's hot water needs, it's time for a change. When it's time for an upgraded system, knowing how to choose the right water heater system can save you money and frustration.
What is a Water Heater?
When water comes into your home it is either cool or cold depending on the outside temperature. It flows through a system of pipes connected to the main water line from the municipal water supply, unless you are on a well system, in which case the water is brought in through a system of holding tank and a well pump pressure tank.. If you want to take a bath or shower, wash clothes, run the dishwasher, or just wash your hands, you expect either warm or hot water. To heat this water to an adequate temperature, you need a hot water heater.
How Water Heaters Work
A water heater is a large metal cylinder with pipes attached to the main water supply of the home. It contains either a pilot light if its gas or electric heating coils if its electric. A water heater is composed of a tank that holds between 40 to 60 gallons of water. The fuel supply heats the water to a desired temperature set by a thermostat. The water heater has control from low to high, keeping the water at a temperature adequate for a family's needs.
The exterior is covered with insulation, usually polyurethane foam, to help keep the water warm. There is also a shut off valve located on the outside of the unit. If there is ever a problem or if the tank needs to be drained, this will stop water from coming in. The drain valve near the bottom is for letting water out in case the tank needs to be emptied. An electric water heater will have a heating element inside to heat the water.
A gas unit will have a burner and a chimney to exhaust fumes. The water temperature recommended by manufacturers is usually between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This is hot enough for household use but not hot enough to scald a child or someone who turns on the hot water.
Because heat rises, the hottest water is at the top of the unit. This is also where the heat out pipe is located which transfers the water through the pipes and to the appliances.
Water Heater Problems
The most common problem with water heaters is no hot water. This may occur when too many appliances are trying to get hot water at the same time. For example, someone is taking a shower and someone else turns on the dishwasher. The dishwasher will now need hot water and will divert it from the shower. The person taking a shower will now get a blast of cold water which has not had time to heat up. If this problem occurs on a regular basis, a professional plumber or technician can recommend the size of tank that best fits your family's needs. In most cases, a larger tank can solve the problem.
A common problem with gas water heaters is the pilot light going out. This could be due to a blast of wind or a flood in the basement or a number of other issues. You should call us if this happens to determine the exact cause.
Noises inside the unit can be a problem but is not one that should be tackled by a homeowner. A licensed professional plumber can troubleshoot the unit to identify the problem and take corrective action.
One of the most common water heater disasters is when a homeowner comes home to find a flooded basement or garage or home due to a water heater that is leaking. Such a problem can cause major water damage and the need for water damage restoration. Knowing where the shut off valve ahead of time is a god idea. Ask your plumber to help you know the steps you can take if you ever encounter a water heater leak. Of course the best way is to avoid this from happening in the first place. Have your water heater maintained and periodically inspected is key.
Discolored or unpleasant odors in the water could be due to sediment in the tank or other issues. Sometimes draining the system solves the problem. However, this is as in virtually all other troubleshooting issues should be handled by a licensed Connecticut plumber.
Tankless Water Heaters
Recently tankless hot water systems have come into popularity in the United States. These units have long been in use in Europe and Japan but became well known with the popularity of the “green movement” in the U.S. Also known as a demand water heater, the tankless system does not store water. A heating unit is installed near the point of use and the cold water from the main system is heated only when the appliance is used. For example, a demand unit in a bathroom will only heat water when the shower or faucet is turned on. Hot water will be generated at this unit until the faucet is turned off.
In theory, you can never run out of hot water with a tankless system. This type of system saves quite a lot in terms of energy bills. It doesn't have to heat gallons of water that are not being used.
Tankless systems may be electric of gas powered. Installation of either system requires the skill of a licensed professional because it is not as common as a standard water heater. Even though the unit saves energy, the installation can cost more than three times as much as for a standard tank water heater.
Another benefit of a tankless system is flexibility. A tankless unit can be small enough to fit inside a bathroom cabinet or it can hang on the wall. Another option is a whole house system which may be installed in a basement or garage and piped to the necessary appliances. Even though the initial investment is high, the savings in energy will over time make up for this expense.
Choosing the Right Water Heater
At Advance Plumbing and Heating, our professional licensed plumbers can evaluate your individual situation and make recommendations. We can help you determine what size water heater tank you need based on the number of appliances, number of family members, frequency of use and other factors.
Then a final determination can be made about the type and size of unit and the type of fuel to use. You can also schedule maintenance to assure that your equipment is also kept in good working order.