Water Heaters 101

Hot water coming out of a shower head

Most of us could not imagine a life without hot water constantly running through our homes. Whether we’re using it to bathe, wash our hands, our clothes, or our dishes our water heaters are a necessity. Even though this is true, we still never give them much thought until something goes wrong or we decide to upgrade. But when that time comes, we’ll be here for you. We’re answering all of your burning water heater questions below!

What is a tankless water heater?

Traditional water heaters have a tank, usually about 20 gallons, that is filled with water. This water is kept at a constant temperature of 120°F (or whatever temperature you set), but once the tank empties of hot water, you have to wait for it to refill and reheat.

Conversely, with a tankless water heater, there is no pre-filled tank of hot water. Instead, water continuously flows through the water heater, where it is heated to your desired temperature and then it flows through your showerhead or faucet. Because this is a continuous process, you never have to worry about running out of hot water.

However, there is a common misconception about tankless water heaters. Many people believe that because the hot water flows continuously, that it’s generated right away. This is not true. The hot water is not instantaneous, instead, you typically have to wait a few minutes for the water to heat to your desired temperature before you hop in the shower.

How do I maintain my water heater?

Water heaters are usually pretty low maintenance appliances. There are only a few things you’ll need to do annually to keep them in good working order. These tasks include:

  • Flushing out your water heater. Most residential areas have hard water flowing through the pipes, and over time this hard water can start to have an impact on the performance and efficiency of your water heater. The sediment within the water sinks to the base of the water heater tank creating a sludge, this can cause rusting, lower water pressure, and an overall decrease in efficiency. To prevent this, flush your water heater out about once a year and this will extend your water heater’s lifespan and lead to fewer complications!

  • Check the temperature. Most water heaters come with the temperature pre-set to about 140°F which can be dangerous if you’re not careful. We recommend you lower the maximum temperature to about 120°F to keep yourself safe.

  • Check the water pressure every once in a while, it’s located near the hose bib on your tank. During the day, the water pressure should be at or below 60 psi, and at night, it should be at or below 80 psi. If the water pressure is above these values, install a pressure reducing valve to prevent safety hazards.

When should I replace my water heater?

How often you should replace your water heater depends on a number of factors. The biggest one is the age of your unit. Traditional models last between 8 and 12 years while tankless models can last up to 20 years, sometimes longer.

However, those expected lifespans don’t matter if you or the previous owner of the water heater didn’t follow a proper maintenance routine! If you do run into operating issues and you aren’t sure whether your unit is about to bite the dust or just needs a minor repair, give the Essex County water heater experts a call.

No matter what your home services worries might be, our technicians at Morris Heating & Air can help you find a solution. For more than 20 years we have been helping the members of our community by helping them take care of their homes. Trust that you’re in good hands when you contact us online, or by phone!

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