Do you own a tankless water heater at home? If so, you need to know some things about how to take good care of your tankless water heater in order for it to perform well and make it last longer.
Below are some common problems with tankless water heaters and tips on how to troubleshoot them:
Tankless Water Heater Problem #1: No ignition (The burner does not ignite when hot water tap is open)
Make sure that the fuses in the control are okay.
In order to prevent problems with the water heater, make sure that the unit is properly grounded.
Proper gas pressure that comes to your tankless water heater must be provided.
Make sure that the gas valve really opens.
Check if the flow sensor works fine.
An inlet filter might be clogged and dirty. Simply clean it.
Check for the right cold and hot water installation. Ensure that the lines are not installed in reverse order.
Tankless Water Heater Problem #2: Flame failure
Check if proper venting is installed.
The length of the vent must be within limits as specified by the manufacturer.
Make sure that the proper voltage is within normal limits.
Tankless Water Heater Problem #3: Temperature fluctuates
Make sure that there are no restrictions in the flow such as faucet aerators and clogged showerheads.
Clean the filter if it is filthy.
Make sure that the water pressure does not fluctuate.
Check for plumbing crossover.
Tankless Water Heater Problem #4: Overheating and thermal fuse failure
Tankless water heaters utilize temperature sensors in order to protect the heater from overheating as well as exceeding the maximum acceptable temperature on the heat exchanger.
The sensor is dirty. Clean it.
There is a low flow inside the heat exchanger.
There is a presence of foreign materials inside the vent and the combustion chamber. Clean it.
The heat exchanger might be clogged. Unclog it.
The airflow around the heater and the vent terminal is blocked. Find out the cause of the blockage and get rid of it.
Tankless Water Heater Problem #5: Water is too hot
The selected temperature on your tankless water heater might be too high. Simply select the lower temperature setting.
The inlet filter could be dirty – just clean it.
Ensure that there are no water path obstructions, including showerheads or faucet aerators.
Temperature sensors might be loose – ensure that the sensors are firmly mounted and are really making contact.
Tankless Water Heater Problem #6: Water is not hot enough
The selected temperature on your tankless water heater might be too low. Simply select the higher temperature setting.
If the running water is cold, just increase the flow so the minimum required pressure is met. Do keep in mind that you will not immediately feel the hot water as it takes some time for hot water to reach the tap. Remember that the longer the distance between the tankless water heater unit and your fixture, the longer it gets for the hot water to reach there.
Make sure that the temperature sensors are firmly mounted on the pipes and are making contact.
Other Tankless Water Heater Problems You Might Encounter
If you experience low water pressure or flow, then it may indicate that you could possibly have too many hot water applications that are running simultaneously. Greater draw will normally result in an increased drop in pressure. Another cause for low flow may be that there is a dirty cold water inlet screen present.
In case your water heater freezes during the cold winter days, the heat exchanger could possibly burst. This is the reason why gas and electricity needs to be supplied so that the freeze protection can activate. Another solution for this is to install the auto drain down the solenoid valves.
How to Prevent Tankless Water Heater Problems
Regular and yearly inspection, as well as periodic maintenance, is necessary in order to keep your tankless water heater unit running and performing well. The water heating system and unit parts must be inspected at least once per year in order to minimize the chances of tankless water heater problems.
Do inspect the venting system.
Do clean the burner, circulating air passageways and the control compartments.
Do keep the fan and motor free from dirt and dust.
Do a visual inspection of the flame to make sure that it burns with a blue, clean and stable flame and see if it burns evenly on the whole surface of the burner.
Flush the heat exchanger using a descaling solution in case the mineral buildup is evident.
Do keep the area around the vent exhaust-free from ice and snow.
Take note that there are some prolonged activities that are done by certain heater elements such as when the fan continues to run even after you turn off the hot water tap. This is actually a normal phenomenon and it only lasts for a short period of time to make sure that every residual product of combustion is thoroughly vented out.
Another frequent problem or complaint which is absolutely normal in tankless water heater operation is the white smoke that comes out of the exhaust. This is typically normal during the cold season, when the exhaust fume temperature is very much hotter than the air outside, since the fume consists of lots of condenses and water vapor.
It is actually good to know as well that sometimes safety features would be triggered, and these are not caused by the tankless water heater problems as mentioned above. There are times that the tankless water heater unit will possibly stop operating under situations such as:
Flame failure – the water heater will shut down in case the flame is out.
Overheating – the water heater unit will automatically shut down if the appliance exceeds a predetermined temperature level.
Blown fuse – the fuse will tend to blow if their overcurrent takes place.
Power failure – in case the appliance loses power, the safety feature built-in it will instantly cut the gas off.
Fusible link – the fusible link will tend to break if extreme temperature levels occur.
All of us live on this planet whose resources are limited and dwindling down. Many of our energy demands are unlimited and we are responsible for the dwindling down of Earth’s natural resources. This is why to become more economically friendly, manufacturers are looking into making more economical water heaters. They not just help lower the amount of energy being used, but they also help lower our utility bills. However, buying the most economic water heater will not do you any good if you do not take into consideration some relevant factors during their installation.
Economical water heaters have been divided into four different categories and their division involves the type of energy they use to heat water. These four types are electric water heaters, gas water heaters, solar water heaters, and commercial water heaters.
One of the relevant factors that should be taken into consideration when installing an economical water heater is insulation. The addition of insulation on the water heater will greatly help to reduce the amount of heat being lost during standby mode. This accounts for around to 25-45 percent of reduction on heat loss, giving you savings of around 4-9 percent on your water heating cost. In fact, insulating your water heater tank is actually very simple and very inexpensive. The money you use on the material for insulation will actually pay for itself on the savings you get within one year. If you own an electric water heater, you yourself can install insulating blankets or jackets on your electric water heating tank.
These days, tankless water heaters are becoming the most popular type of economic water heater. These units are very efficient because it only heats water when it is needed. This is possible as the electric ignition only ignites when heated water is being requested and water gets heated up as it passes through copper heating coils.
Electric tankless water heaters are the most popular type of tankless water heating systems. Many consider them as the next generation of water heaters and represent the future technology. The reason why electric tankless water heating systems are becoming very popular is because they have several key advantages as compared to traditional water heating. The first would be the absence of a storage tank. This allows homeowners to use that space for more important things. The second would be the unlimited supply of heater water. This is possible because water is being heated as it is being needed. The third reason is they are very economical as water is only heated as it is being needed.
Natural gas water heaters are water heating systems that have been designed with energy efficiency in mind. The best thing about natural gas water heaters is that they are able to provide a substantial amount of savings on utility bills. According to statistics, water heating constitutes a large part of the energy consumption in one’s home. The use of a natural gas water heater will reduce the cost of utility bills significantly. This is because the rates for natural gas are much lower and that gas is also able to heat water much faster as compared to electric units. Manufacturers of natural gas water heaters make them in a range of sizes and have tanks that range from 20 to 100 gallons. There are also tankless versions of natural gas water heaters.
To date, solar water heaters are the greenest and most cost-effective way of generating heated water for your home. They can be used regardless of the size of your home as long as the location of your home has a clear view of the sun. The best part about this type of water heater is that the power it uses comes from the sun, which is of course free.
A solar water heating system is composed of solar collecting panels and storage tanks. There are basically two types of solar water heating systems – active and passive. An active heating system makes use of circulating pumps and controls, while passive heating systems don’t. Regardless of the type of solar water heating system you have, you will without doubt save money using this system. Just make sure that the storage tank you have is properly insulated so as not to lose any heat.
Commercial water heating systems on the other hand are specifically made for buildings that have a high demand for heated water. Typical applications for commercial water heaters are large residences, apartment buildings, hospitals, restaurants, motels, hotels, industrial buildings, and many more.
If you already have an economical water heater, it is important that you maintain the unit regularly to ensure that it is always in perfect working condition. Even if you don’t notice anything unusual with your unit, regular maintenance is still necessary as this will help you find potential problems with the unit earlier on. This not only ensures that your water heating unit works more efficiently, but it will also save you a lot of money on costly future repairs as equipment failure has been prevented earlier on. The main reason why your water heating system needs to be regularly maintained is not just for preventive maintenance and that it is working efficiently, but one of the reasons involved in maintenance is so that it works like the unit is supposed to – save money. We often buy equipment not just because we like them, but because they are reliable and energy-efficient. We know that these two reasons will allow us to save money in the long run which is why even if the equipment is more expensive, we still invest in them. Ensuring that these pieces of equipment work at their optimum performance will ensure that we save money, ergo, regular maintenance is a must.
Overall, water heating systems are essential all over the world, regardless of whether you live in cold or tropical regions. If you are planning to buy a water heater, it is important that you make it a point to consider whether the unit you are buying is eco-friendly, economical, and that it is also energy efficient. It is also equally important that the water heating system you are trying to buy is enough to supply your home with your heated water needs and that the unit you are planning on purchasing is well within your budget.
Every year, gallons upon gallons of water are wasted in the United States and in Europe simply because people are waiting for their water to get at the right temperature before they go take their shower or even wash their hands. The total cost of all the wasted water will be in the thousands per year. Not only is it a waste of money, but also a waste of resources.
Often times, this wastage of water is unavoidable as the water inside the pipes cools down which is why when you turn the hot water tap on, it is then cooled down water left in the pipe that leaves the faucet first. In traditional storage-tank water heating systems, hot water goes out of the water heating unit into the pipes before it exits the faucet. When you close the faucet, there is hot water left inside the pipe which cools down in time. This means the cooled water sitting in the pipes leaves the pipes first, and this is the initial cold water that you get when you open the hot water tap.
If you want to avoid having cold water left inside the pipe, then you should have a hot water recirculation system installed with your water heating system. The hot water recirculation pump sends cool water left in the pipes back into the water heater via a return line. The pump basically circulates water from the water heating unit to help keep it hot. This happens in a continuous loop ensuring that hot water is readily available from the tap as soon as you open it. The recirculation of warm water is slow-moving, but constantly circulates hot water, even from the farthest hot water pipes. This helps to keep the water in the pipes hot so that no water is wasted when opening the hot water tap because hot water instantly surges from that point.
A hot water recirculation system involves a not so complex plumbing system to help move water in a loop. This helps to provide hot water in every fixture instantly, without any need to wait a few seconds.
The most common type of hot water recirculation system uses a dedicated return line. This will start from the point of use that is farthest from the storage tank back towards the storage tank. If a home does not initially have a return line installed, they commonly use the cold water line and use it as a sort of return line through the use of a temperature control device that closes the connection between the hot water lines and the cold water lines at specific temperatures. The downside to this, when compared to a dedicated return line, is that the cold pipe may become heated along with the water in it.
Listed below are the features of a hot water recirculation system:
The pump circulates water from the pipes to the water heater.
A thermostat helps to control the temperature in the return line. This in turn engages the pump automatically when it senses the water is going below the desired temperature of 95° to 125° F.
A built-in timer initiates the thermostat to help keep the temperature in check as specified intervals. A programmable timer comes as optional. This helps homeowners to program the time so that it can keep check of the temperature before their routine use.
A check valve is installed to prevent any backflow of water. This helps to prevent the reversal of water flow that may potentially contaminate the plumbing system of the home.
An isolation valve allows homeowners to isolate the pump from the system in case they need to remove it for cleaning purposes.
Dedicated Loop – the recirculation pump for this type of system is installed on a pipe connected to the water heating unit. This is mostly because this is the coolest side of the loop. The common installation would be to have a hot water line passing every hot water fixture. These fixtures are then connected to the hot water line via a valve. With this setup, as soon as a valve is opened, hot water almost immediately rushes out of the valve.
Integrated Loop – this type of system is more like a retrofit, but it can also be installed on new construction. The pump is basically installed under the plumbing fixture that is farthest from the water heating unit. The pump is equipped with a sensor that engages the pump when the water temperature drops below 85° F and switches it off once the water temperature gets at 95° F. Newer recirculation pumps can be adjusted from 77° F to 104° F. With this type of system, the hot water is returned to the water heating unit via the cold water pipes. Although this may raise the temperature of the cold water slightly, the cold water reverts back to its normal temperature in no time.
Demand-controlled System – this type of system operates on a pump that is activated by a switch or motion sensor. This type of system costs very little to operate, but does not provide hot water as quickly as other setups. The system basically has a switch or motion sensor near each hot water fixture and activates the energy-efficient circulation pump once it detects motion in water. The pump on the other hand is equipped with a temperature sensor and check valve to prevent water from going to the return line. A sensor is placed at the farthest tap so that when hot water gets there, the pump is automatically turned off.
Gravity-fed system – this type of system relies on thermosiphon wherein hot water will rise at the top of the system while the much denser cold water will settle down at the bottom. In order for this type of system to work, the water heating unit needs to be located at a much lower level than the hot water fixtures it will be providing hot water with. Although this type of system seems somewhat more economical due to its gravity-fed name, it actually uses more energy than other systems as it is kept on non-stop. The only advantage with this type of system is that it is user-friendly because there are no pumps to install.
If you are looking for or planning to have a new and economical water heater unit, it is highly recommendable to always compare the prices of competing water heater units as well as some of the specifications that are crucial to your requirement. This would involve aspects such as unit cost, installation cost, heating capacity, and operating cost. Doing a bit of research on these factors will enable you to choose the type of unit more suitable for you. The unit cost basically depends on the brand, model, and water capacity you are looking for. Different brands usually have different prices and it is up to you to weigh which one would be ideal for you, at least after considering some of the other factors.
Storage tank water heaters are much easier to install than tankless models which is why they are also cheaper to install. If you already have a storage tank unit but somehow needs replacing, it is best and cheaper to choose a similar tank model that uses the same fuel as the current water heater. However, if you plan on upgrading your standard tank model with a heat pump or efficiency tank model, you may want to get ready to pay a little extra. This is because even if the connections remain the same, the installer may need to add extra insulation on the area where the heat pump will be placed, or the new tank may not fit snuggly into the space previously occupied by your old unit. If you think that the space available is a bit restricted, it is best to try to get the measurements first before attempting to buy a new unit.
If you are thinking of replacing your current storage-tank water heater unit with a tankless type, you need to ready yourself for a bit higher installation cost, more especially with gas-fired tankless water heaters. This is because using a gas-fire tankless unit will require you to upgrade your half-inch gas lines to three-quarter inch ones. In addition, since there will be high combustion temperatures, it is also necessary to upgrade to a new venting system. Such added cost makes it very important to consider whether the conversion from a storage tank model to a gas tankless model is really beneficial and more economical in the long run. On the other hand, if you decide to upgrade to electric tank models, although you may need to upgrade some of your electrical wirings and supply, the cost is not as significant as compared to converting the whole gas system.
Often, people who purchase storage tank models assess the prices of water heaters based on their storage capacity. While storage capacity is indeed important, it is the heating capacity of the unit that is more important. The heating capacity of a water heating unit is identified by its FHR (First Hour Rating) which can be found on the specs of the unit. The FHR basically shows you how much heated water can be provided by the unit on a span of one hour. It thereby reflects the overall heating capacity or power of the unit. In order to be certain that the unit you are eyeing will meet your hot water demands, it is recommended to focus more on the FHR rather on the size of the tank as the better FHR will be able to meet your hot water needs during peak usage.
If you are looking for tankless water heaters, it would be a good idea to compare the prices of models that are able to meet or exceed your peak hot water usage during the cold seasons.
Electric water heater units are basically a lot cheaper and more efficient as compared to gas-fired models. However, since natural gas is a lot cheaper than electricity, the operating cost of gas-fired water heaters is a lot lower. In addition, gas-fired models are also able to heat up water more quickly as compared to electric units.
High-efficiency tank units are able to achieve efficiency with better insulation. They incorporate heat traps as well as highly efficient heating systems which gives them above 95% heating efficiency levels. High-efficiency gas models on the other hand are usually 63-64% efficient. They are also around 10% more efficient as standard gas models. However, this very little increase in efficiency does not justify the high cost of the unit. The only thing that makes them worth is perhaps is their durability as they are considerably more durable than standard models.
Tankless water heaters are more expensive than storage tank types. However, it is the gas tankless types that are 20% more efficient than gas-fired storage-tank models. This higher efficiency is achieved as water is only being heated when it is needed. The advantages of tankless water heaters is that you do not pay any operating cost when water is not being heated as compared to storage tank models wherein the water needs to be kept at a certain temperature even when it will not be used for days.
There tankless and storage tank gas-fired water heaters that are very efficient. Their efficiency is achieved by using the heat that is normally vented out of the chimney. These gas-fired models are called condensing water heaters. They are not only very efficient, but they are also eco-friendly as they enable the homeowner to have lower fuel cost. In fact, the utility bill is reduced by up to 40% using this type of water heating system as compared to standard gas-fired models.
When it comes to water heater units, it is a known fact that more expensive and higher efficient models also have the lowest operating cost. They are also likely to be eligible for tax credit and rebates. This tax credit and rebate helps to significantly reduce the price of the unit. The saving you get from the tax credit, rebate, and low operating cost will likely be more economical in the long run.
Frequently Asked Questions about Tankless Water Heaters
The need for heated water is essential for many geographic locations due to the cold climate they have. In fact, the need for heated water is not limited to weather and climate alone as some tropical regions use heated water for washing their clothes and dishes. The truth is people find it more convenient to have heated water on their tap instead of the age-old boiling hot water on a pan.
These days, people are inclined on investing on tankless water heaters, also called as on-demand water heaters, instead of the more traditional storage-tank water heaters. This is mostly because it is a more efficient way of getting heated water in your home. It is not only more efficient than storage tank water heaters, but the unit also requires less space. This means you not only save more money on utility bills, but you also have extra space in your home that you could use as you please. The best part about using tankless water heaters is your use of hot water is not limited to how much heated water your storage tank can store, but that you have an endless stream of heated water at your disposal.
People who are used to storage tank water heaters are not familiar with the convenience tankless water heaters offer. They are used to running out of heated water when taking a shower and they are also used to having an allotted area for the storage tank. This means they will likely have a lot of questions should they consider upgrading their water heating system into tankless water heaters. The list below shows some of the more frequently asked questions about tankless water heaters.
How Do Tankless Water Heaters Work?
– They work basically by allowing cold water to enter the unit which is then passed through electric heating coils or gas fire burners to heat up the water using the process of heat exchange. The main idea behind this system is that it is able to continuously provide heated water. Water is being heated on demand. Unlike traditional water heaters that use a storage tank, tankless-type water heaters do not suffer from a standby heat loss. Avoiding such heat loss is the primary aspect that makes tankless water heaters energy efficient.
Where Can You Use Them?
– On-demand water heaters come in two types – “Point of Use” and “Whole House Use.” Point of use on-demand water heaters are small units that can be directly installed on showers, under the sink, or near laundry machines. They are well suited for heating a specific tap only and people who buy these usually purchase several so they can install them at multiple places. Whole house use on-demand water heaters on the other hand are larger units and are capable of providing heated water for an entire house. These units are typically installed on utility rooms or garages. The only disadvantage in using this type of system is the lag time as it takes a considerable amount of time before the heated water from the unit reaches the tap that is being opened. This lag is mostly due to the distance the heated water has to travel.
How much do They Cost?
On-demand water heaters are usually more expensive than storage tank types when it comes to initial purchase and installation. In fact, the cost will increase much further if you are planning to install them in multiple locations inside the home. Depending on the size of your home, the installation cost will vary greatly. If your home is old, it might need some electrical and ventilation upgrades so that the system will work properly, adding more to the overall cost of the installation.
How can They Save you Money?
The reason you are able to save money using on-demand water heater units is because they are not constantly running to make your water hot. This means water will only get heated when you turn on the hot water tap, unlike storage tank type that needs to keep its stored water at a constant temperature even when it is not needed, thereby consuming energy that adds to your utility bill. The only downside to on-demand water heater units is that they take a few seconds before the water reaches the preset heated temperature. However, the best thing about them is that once they reach their heated temperature, you will continuously have heated water without ever having to worry that your storage tank heated water will run out. In fact, you will have an endless stream of heated water and all you have to do is wait a few seconds for it to heat up.
How Much Money Can You Save?
This depends greatly on how much you use your heating system and how much you spent on heating needs in the past. Basically, moderate users will have a savings of a few dollars per month, with a total savings of at least a hundred dollars per year. Although this may not seem much when you compare it to the price of the unit and installation cost, the system is very robust and will last many years. Adding the fact that the unit is regularly maintained, it is likely to last more than 10 years, which at the very least, pay for itself.
What are the Benefits of Installing One?
Aside from the savings you get from your utility bills and the endless stream of heated water you get when showering, you will be glad to know that there are other benefits that tankless water heaters provide. One such benefit is that many models have federal tax rebates which can further decrease the overall cost. Just make sure to ask of this when buying. Another benefit is perhaps their small form factor. If you compare them to storage tank water heaters that require quite some space. On-demand water heaters are small and compact enough to be installed inside the shower or under the sink. If you have a whole house water heater unit, you can simply install it outdoors. The best thing about these types of water heaters is that they are green and energy-efficient.
How to Save on Your Water Heating Bill
When we were children, we only thought about things concerning our studies and most of the time, we only thought of ways on how to have fun. However, by the time we finish our studies and go out to the world of adults, get a job and try to be independent, we come to realize that there are many things that we have to be responsible about at home.
One of the most common things that we usually encounter as a problem is the problem of household bills – for electricity, for water, for the telephone, etc. Of course, the amount of the bills you have to pay each month may vary as it may go up if the consumption within the household is high, or it may go down if the consumption is low. While you cannot control how much these utility companies charge you, you can actually control the way how you and your family use them.
For instance, if you and your family are fond of using the water heater at home, then there are actually easy ways on how you can save on your water heating bill:
1. Consider taking short showers instead of long baths. These daily activities in the household can actually be controlled, and the extent of taking a bath depends on you and your family’s bathing habits. If you are someone who likes to have a long hot shower, you may be using a lot more hot water than you think. Moreover, if you have a bathtub that is very huge, then you will really be using a whole lot of hot water in order to fill that tub for you to bathe on. Of course, a warm bath feels like a luxurious and relaxing thing for you, but if you want to save up, you need to stick with a short shower. It is even better if you can turn off the shower while you are using soap, shampoo or even while shaving.
2. Try to minimize the time spent in the shower. Lots of people take too long in the shower simply because they feel it is too cold to get out of it. If you are one of them, you can actually try keeping the bathroom door closed which will keep the air inside warm and prevent the sudden entrance of a cold draft. Also, why not place a towel holder and keep a big and fluffy towel close by whenever you take a bath.
3. Make it a habit to never let the water run. A lot of people are guilty of leaving the water on while they brush their teeth, or they tend to step away for a while to grab some dirty dishes, or they take their time lathering soap on their hands. It may seem like it is no big deal to keep the water running just for a few seconds, but if you do this constantly, you are actually adding them up, which results to a whole lot of water that is sadly wasted. It is very easy to shut it off and it only takes a second, so you should never let your water run if you want to save on your bill.
4. Do lower the temperature on your water heater unit to 120°F. Did you know that for every 10°F decrease in temperature, you can save as much as 3% to 5% on your water heating costs?
5. Fix obvious leaks. Leaks are one of the most common reasons why your water bill suddenly shoots up. A leak of about 1 drip per second can cost you $1 per month. This may seem like a small amount to you, but look at it this way: at 60 drips per minute, 8.64 gallons of water is wasted each day, which becomes 259 gallons per month, and then it will be about 3,153 gallons of water per year. This is actually a whole lot of clean water being wasted and this will only be prevented if the leaks are fixed.
6. As much as possible, use only cold water for most of your laundry loads, and make it a habit to use cold water always for the rinse cycle.
7. Use your dishwasher as efficiently as possible. Do wash only in full loads, select the shorter wash cycle options, and turn on the booster heater if your dishwasher unit possesses one.
8. You should install heat traps on your water heater tank. By doing this, you can actually save up to $15 to $40 on your water heating bill. You might need to hire a professional to help you install them on your water heater tank, but there are some modern storage water heater units nowadays that include heat traps in them.
9. You should install low-flow fixtures. Federal rules and regulations require homeowners who have water heaters to get new showerheads and faucets that have low-flow rates. This is because shower heads and faucets made before 1992 use more than twice as much water as the new ones. If you do this, you can actually obtain water savings of about 25% to 60%.
10. You should insulate the first couple of feet of the hot and cold water pipes attached to the water heater.
11. You should insulate your storage water heater tank. If you have an electric tank, take care not to cover the thermostat. If you have natural gas or oil storage water tanks, take care not to cover the water heater’s bottom, top, thermostat or burner compartment.
12. You should install a timer that turns off your electric water heater at nighttime or during times when you do not use it. You can also use the timer to turn off the water heater during its peak demand times.
13. You can consider buying a new water heater. Nobody ever says that you can only just have one water heater at home. You can have both conventional storage water heaters and tankless water heaters at the same time in your home.
How to Replace Water Heater Thermostats
Hot water heater thermostats are a kind of adjustable thermostat that is used to control the temperature of the outgoing hot water. Below is a review of two of the most common types of water heating residential appliances – gas and electric.
Both gas and electric water heating residential appliances will contain at least one thermostat in order to operate the heater and one high limit switch in order to protect the unit from any excessive temperature.
For different applications, different hot water temperatures are needed. The hot water is normally needed for showers, clothes washing, dishwashing, etc. and these day-to-day activities are some of the reasons why you use a hot water heater thermostat, in order to set and/or adjust the temperature.
Generally, the temperature range on both gas and electric water heaters differs, but one common thing about them is that they both have thermostats that are factory pre-set, which is usually at 120 F, so as to protect its users from hot scalding water.
It is very important to know that if an individual is exposed to hot water of about 120 F or 49 C, it takes more than 5 minutes to experience burns; if about 130 F, it takes less than 30 seconds; and if the temperature is about 160 F, it takes less than a second to experience burns.
Take note that there are some ways on how to protect yourself and others from accidental burns. Simply install temperature-limiting valves that connect to faucets in order to limit or restrict hot water, or install a mixing valve in order to minimize the hot water temperature, by means of mixing hot and cold water.
Hot Water Heater Thermostats on Gas Appliances
On gas water heaters, when the incoming cold water activates the thermostat, the gas then flows to the main burner. By the time the water inside the tank reaches the set temperature, the thermostat then interrupts the gas flow to the main burner.
The residential gas water heaters normally operate within a temperature range of 80 F to 160 F wherein the high-limit safety device opens at about 195 F (on the AO Smith, for instance).
Do remember that even if the thermostat is set to 120 F, the heater may potentially shut off at about 110 or 130 F. This is due to the fact that the unit depends on the accuracy (+/-10 F tolerance) of the metal rod that is immersed inside of the tank to measure the temperature.
Hot water heater thermostats on gas appliances are actually part of the gas control valve assembly. The thermostat knob is typically situated at the front of the gas valve. Its purpose is to control the water temperature and during the process of lighting the pilot and the main burner. The temperature dial possesses markings, and by turning it counterclockwise, you can increase the temperature setting.
Prior to performing any maintenance on your gas water heater, do remember to turn the temperature dial on its lowest setting.
Take note that the lowest thermostat setting is highly recommended to use during low-demand circumstances. This way, you can reduce your energy losses during cold days and this also prevents the tank from freezing.
Hot Water Heater Thermostats on Electric Appliances
Electric water heaters are normally equipped with 2 adjustable thermostats, one on each heating element (in case the water heater has two).
The temperature range on residential electric water heater units is normally from 90 F to 150 F with a high limit of about 170 F. The high-limit switch (ECO) is situated in the exact same place as that of the upper thermostat, has a manual reset (for instance, the AO Smith) and it is meant to shut down the unit if extremely high water temperature occurs (in this case, above 170 F).
The electric water heater thermostats are surface mounted, normally installed into a bracket that holds the element against the side of the tank. The thermostat’s back surface is in full contact with the tank, thus it responds to the tank surface’s temperature change.
When you are adjusting the thermostat on your electric hot water heater, it is advised that you set both thermostats to about the exact same temperature, or simply set the top element to a slightly lower temperature, so the bottommost element activates first.
How to set the temperature of the water heater via thermostat adjustment
Below are the steps on how to properly change the temperature setting on electric water heaters:
Only adjust the thermostat on an electric water heater when the power is off. Disconnect all power sources to the water heater by means of opening the switch on the fuse box or the main circuit breaker.
Take out the access panel, cover and fold the insulation away from the controls in order to clear the way to the controls.
With the screwdriver, rotate the adjustment knob to the desired position (temperature).
Put back the cover, access panel and insulation. Turn on the electrical supply and the water heater.
How to replace thermostats on electric water heaters
A thermostat is not that expensive, which is why fixing a thermostat on a hot water heater is not actually recommended. Below are steps on how to replace a thermostat on an electric water heater:
Turn off the electric power of the water heater.
Take off the front panel door and then fold up the insulation pad.
Unclip the thermostat from its bracket.
Disconnect the wires from the thermostat. For proper re-connection to the new element, do label the wires.
Take out the water heater thermostat.
Install the new thermostat into the bracket.
Connect the wires to the thermostat.
Set the thermostat to the original temperature setting.
Put back the removed elements.
Turn on the power to the water heater.
It is highly advised that you check, clean or replace the heating elements as well. When going to bring the thermostat back, ensure that it stays firmly against the tank surface. Inside the access cover, you will find a wire diagram. Use that to properly reconnect the wires to the thermostat.
If in case your electric water heater has two heating elements and two thermostats, keep in mind that the lower ones will operate more frequently, have more chances of exposure to lime buildup, and tend to fail more often than the upper ones.
When on the lookout for water heater thermostats, it is crucial to know the voltage of the water heater or the heating element. You can easily find it on the back of the element or on the main energy guide label.
One of the primary problems concerning water heater thermostats are: when the hot water is set too low, the hot water is set to a too high temperature, and when there is no hot water at all.
The reasons behind these problems are actually simple – the thermostat is set either too low or too high. If in case there is no hot water coming out, then that means either the thermostat is not working or the high-temperature limit switch turned the unit off. If in case you are experiencing running water heating with high operation costs, or if the thermostat fails to shut off, all you need to do is to simply replace the water heater thermostat.
How to Choose a Good Storage Tank Water Heater
Whether you live in a warm or cold region, having a water heater in your household is important. There are actually many uses for hot water in a household; you can use it for the laundry, dishwasher, or when taking a shower. This makes it very important to choose a good storage-tank water heater whether if it’s for a new home or just replacing the old one. However, relying on the sales pitch of sales agents does not necessarily mean you will be able to get a good one. It is important that you equip yourself with some facts and knowledge about water heaters before going out to get one. The list below shows some of the things to consider when choosing a good storage-tank water heater.
Space – This is among the first things that should be considered when choosing a storage-tank water heater. This is mostly because storage tank water heaters cover a fairly good amount of space, say a square meter. If your home has plenty of space to spare both outside or inside, then this shouldn’t pose any problem. Most storage-tank water heaters are placed on basements, garage, or utility room. However, if your home hardly has any space to spare, then you are better off choosing an electric tankless water heater.
Size – Size is also important when choosing a storage-tank water heater. This is mostly because you need to consider the amount of hot water the whole household will need. Since the storage tanks usually vary in how much volume of water they can store, you need to be able to choose one that would be able to cater to the overall requirement of your household. A 30 to 40-gallon tank is usually sufficient enough for 2 to 3 persons. If there are 5 people in a household, it is recommended to have a 50 to 80-gallon tank.
Recovery Rate – This is a very important factor to consider in a water heater as this involves how much volume of water a water heater unit can heat in a span of 1 hour. This means if you require a large amount of heated water per day, you will require a unit with a high recovery rate.
Operating Cost – Different types of tanks, heating elements or systems, and brand will usually have varying efficiencies which in turn yields to operating costs. It is important to choose the type that fits your heating requirement, whether it is electric, propane, or natural gas.
Price – This is usually the aspect that wary most buyers. The truth is everyone wants to have the best type of water heater. The only problem is that the prices of the best types of water heaters are sometimes too steep for many. This is the reason why some buyers are led into buying the cheaper ones. Although there is nothing wrong with the cheaper types of storage tank water heaters as they are able to serve their intended purpose – to provide heated water. Their only downside is that they are more expensive to run in terms of operating costs as compared to the more expensive types of water heaters.
When attempting to buy a storage-tank water heater, it is important to consider the factors mentioned above so you will not have a hard time isolating the unit that suits you perfectly. Never allow the sales agent to lure you into their sales pitch. Try to do your research first before buying one.
Simple Tips on Water Heater Replacement
Having a water heater in your household can be very convenient. However, when the water heater is old or breaks down and need replacement, it can be quite a problem. The problem when replacing a water heater usually involves plumbing, which, most often than not, requires you to hire a professional to do the job. Doing this yourself without any knowledge of the possible dangers can potentially make you do more harm than good. On the other hand, if you are confident about your DIY skills, then you can do this task fairly easy, considering the tank you will be replacing is an electric type unit.
Before purchasing a unit, it is important that you consider the size of the new unit you will be buying and whether the space allocated for the old unit will be able to accommodate the size of the new unit. Once you have your new unit ready, you need to do the following:
Drain the Tank – Turn the circuit breaker of the unit off and turn off the main water valve. Open the taps in your home that are connected to the heater to empty the tank. Once that is done, connect a garden hose at the drain valve and place the other end of the hose outside your house. Open the drain valve to fully empty the tank.
Disconnect the Electrical Wirings – There is a junction box at the top of the unit where there are two electrical wires. Disconnect both of them by unscrewing their connection (be sure that the unit is turned off). Mark them so you know where to place them back.
Disconnect the Plumbing Lines – Make sure you know where the location of the incoming water and the outgoing hot water is. If you are using a galvanized pipe, simply unscrew the union using a wrench. However, if you are using a copper solid pipe, you need to have a hacksaw to cut through the copper pipe. Make sure to cut below the shutoff valve and to cut straight. Once you are done, file off the burrs and sharp edges and prepare for soldering.
Remove the Old Water Heater Unit
Position the New Water Heater Unit
Reconnect the Water Line – If you are using a solid copper pipe for the outgoing hot water, solder the pipe and its fittings to the heater. Reconnect the water main to the heater. Use flexible copper pipes to make connecting easier. Turn on the main water valve and check for leaks. Be sure a tap is open so that the air does not get trapped inside the tank.
Reconnect the Electrical Wirings – Open the junction box and reconnect the two wires using the clamp or screws built in the unit’s connector. Tighten the screws.
Before turning on your new water heater unit, it is important to set the unit the thermostat first to your desired temperature. Having 120°F or 50°C is usually the recommended thermostat settings. Once you have set the thermostat temperature, turn on the circuit breaker and enjoy.
Tips on How to Save Energy with Water Heaters
As most of us would know, a typical water heater unit eats up a whole lot of energy. Therefore, when it comes to the possibilities of saving energy, one of the appliances that you will never think of that could do that would be a water heater unit.
In many areas in the United States, the most commonly used water heater unit would be the traditional tank-type water heater. This type of water heater is normally located in the basement and it keeps the water hot and ready to use whenever you need it. However, as the water sits, it tends to cool down naturally, which is otherwise known as standby heat loss. By the time the water fully cools down, the heating element or the burner activates in order to warm it up again, and this cycle regularly goes on in a repeating manner.
In order to significantly lower your household’s total energy costs, below are some tips on how you could increase its efficiency and also on how to save energy while still enjoying the benefits of using your water heater:
1. Do install fixtures that are considered to be low-flow. A surefire method on how to significantly cut hot water consumption costs is to simply use less of it. Let’s say for example that a family of five utilizes about 700 gallons of hot water in a week. By installing low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators, one can significantly cut down on hot water consumption costs by 25% up to a whopping 60%. For instance, one can save $200 off the average US household water bill of $500. Additionally, ensure that you use the “eco” setting of your clothes washer and dishwasher, and discontinue the habit of pre-washing. The latest versions of dishwashers nowadays can handle a dirty dish well. Just scrape the leftovers (either into a container or into the trash bin) and then load the dishes.
2. Wrap your water heater unit with a blanket. In the wintertime, your water heater unit actually requires a blanket in order to keep warm, most especially if it is situated in a somewhat cold space. A typical fiberglass insulating blanket can significantly cut down heat loss by about 25% up to 40%. This saves you 5% up to 10% if you have a typical water-heating bill of $300. You may hesitate to do this, but insulating blankets are fortunately very easy to install and are quite inexpensive. They usually cost about $30 each. When wrapping your water heater unit with a blanket for the purpose of saving energy, do be careful not to block the air inlet and exhaust (if you have a gas water heater unit) or the thermostat (if you have an electric water heater unit). Before attempting to wrap your water heater unit with the use of a blanket, check to see if it already has one. Most new versions of water heaters nowadays already contain insulating foam, which renders a blanket unnecessary and maybe even dangerous as it can block vital components of the unit. It is advisable to first ask your unit’s manufacturer to make sure if your water heater unit requires a separate blanket or not.
3. Drain the tank. Water heater tanks obviously build up sediments, which significantly minimizes the water heater’s efficiency, therefore making it difficult to save energy. By regularly draining the tank, you can save energy. To do this, just turn off the water and the power to the water heater unit (if you have a gas-powered water heater, just set the burner to “pilot”). Attach a garden hose to the spigot at the bottom of the tank. With the other end of the garden hose aimed at the floor drain, carefully lift up the tank’s pressure relief valve and then turn on the spigot. The water should start to flow out. While lots of manufacturers suggest that you ought to drain our tank about once or twice per year, this means that you do not necessarily have to drain it completely. As a matter of fact, most homeowners drain less water more often, about a quart every 2 to 3 months.
4. Check the temperature of your water heater unit. Initially, if your water heater unit just came out fresh from the factory, its settings will normally be set high. For about every 10 degrees that you turn the temperature setting down, you are guaranteed to save as much as 3% to 5% on your energy bill. A temperature setting of 120 to 140 degrees is just about hot enough as one can tolerate. Just remember to not go below 120 degrees, because this could result in bacteria growing inside your tank, and of course you do not want that to happen. If in case the thermostat on your water heater unit does not possess a numbered gauge, set it midway between the “medium” and “low” indicators. Simply wait for about a day and then measure the temperature of the tap water with a thermometer that is used for cooking. Just keep on adjusting it until you hit your desired temperature.
5. Insulate hot-water pipes that are exposed. Just like what was discussed in wrapping a blanket to the water heater tank, you can reduce standby heat loss by wrapping insulation around hot-water pipes as well. When this is done, the water that arrives at the tap will tend to be 2 to 4 degrees warmer. This results in you not having to wait long for the water to heat up, which in turn saves you water, energy and money. Self-sealing sleeves that are 6 feet long and can easily be slipped over pipes are what you will need to insulate the pipes. While insulating hot-water pipes are not very expensive, they can really take some effort to install, depending on where your hot-water pipes are situated. Hard-to-reach hot-water pipes located in walls or crawl spaces will considerably take too much of your time, whereas exposed pipes such as those in the basement are a fairly easy target to work on.
How to Repair Your Electric Tank Water Heater
You may be wondering who used up all the hot water in the house? You’d be surprised to find out that nobody had taken a hot shower or used any hot water in the house all day. Maybe your electric water heater needs some fixing. Once you know how it works and how to diagnose its common problems, you can fix it and save some money.
If in case you find out that your electric tank water heater unit stops heating water as fast as it did when it was new, or it looks like it runs out of water much quickly, chances are that one of the two heating elements inside the tank has a malfunction. Or, it could be that there is an electrical problem such as a faulty thermostat or a simple reset button that needs to be pushed; however, it is most likely that the culprit is one of the heating elements. With basic and easy-to-use tools, you can change these elements yourself and save you the trouble of having to call a repairman which can unnecessarily cost you some money.
Things that You Will Need:
½-inch drive socket wrench and sockets
¼-inch drive socket wrench and sockets
Turn off the electricity to the water heater unit at the home’s main load center by means of flipping the appropriate circuit breaker to the off position.
Turn off the water supply to the tank by means of turning the handle on the valve on the cold water inlet pipe to the heater.
Open the two access panels located in the side of the water heater unit by removing the small retaining screws with the appropriate flat screwdriver or small Phillips. Remove the insulation that is inside the access panels to reveal the thermostats and electrical elements mounted on the inside of the tank. The electrical element is the part that has a huge hexagonal head with two electrical wires attached to threaded posts protruding from the head.
Connect the garden hose to the drain fitting at the tank bottom and route the end of the hose outside to a well-situated floor drain lower than the bottom of the water heater unit.
Open up the drain valve and then empty the water heater. The drainage will be facilitated by turning on the hot water faucet that is nearest to the water heater unit in order to let the air into the top of the tank as the water drains out.
Shoot a close-up digital photo of each of the access panels as well as the electrical hook-ups inside. The wiring may look simple, but in case you become confused, you will surely be able to ensure that you are correctly re-hooking up the wires when re-assembling as long as you refer to the photo you have just taken.
Set up the selector switch on the multi-meter to 250V-AC setting. After that, touch each of the electrical connections on the head of the heater element with one of the two probes from the multimeter. Either probe can be placed on either electrical connection. Check the reading on the display or meter, it should be zero. This ensures that the electricity to the elements is really turned off.
Simply remove the two electric wires from the heating element head by means of unscrewing the nuts on the connector posts using a ¼-inch socket wrench and the correct size of the socket.
Set up the selector switch on the multi-meter to the “ohms” configuration. Touch one of the multimeter probes to each of the electrical posts on the end of the water heater element. If the ohms reading still stays zero, then this means that it is a defective element. If you think that neither element is defective, call for professional assistance. This indicates that something is amiss other than burnt-out heater elements and the repair will require someone with special training and equipment in order to diagnose water heater problems.
Removal of Elements:
Use a ½-inch drive socket wrench that is fitted with an appropriately-sized socket to unscrew the defective heating element from the tank and take it out.
On a notepad or paper, write down the make, model and serial number of the water heater.
Bring the note and the old heater element to a hardware store or plumbing supply store. There are heater elements for many models and brands of water heaters that are interchangeable, but it would be wise to bring with you the specific information of your own water heater unit and the old element as it would ensure that you are getting the proper replacement items.
Reassembling the Heater Element:
Insert the new heating element into the tank and then tighten it firmly. Ensure that you are using the new gasket or O-ring that comes with the replacement elements.
Re-attach the electrical connections and then replace the access panels and insulation.
Turn off the bottom drain outlet and then open the cold water inlet valve, which leaves the hot water faucet in the sink that is nearest to the water heater unit in the open position.
Let the water heater tank to refill and wait until there is an uninterrupted flow of water that comes out of the open sink faucet. After that, shut it off.
Turn on the electricity to the water heater unit at the circuit breaker box. At most, the water inside the water heater tank should get hot in about one hour.
The steps mentioned above are simple yet effective tips on how to repair your electric water heater. Due to the fact that electric water heater units are simple in operation, a few things can go wrong with them, and the solutions are easy. If you are still unsure or you do not want to mess with your water heater unit, you can always call a professional for help. It may cost you some money, but you will be assured that your water heater unit is properly diagnosed with its potential problems and the right ways on how to fix it are carried out.
How to Repair a Leaking Water Heater
One of the most common problems in both gas and electric water heater systems is leaking. This is the main reason why you must consider a particular designated room when installing your gas or electric-powered water heater.
In order to fully understand everything there is about your water heater when it is leaking, you should know the things that can cause your water heater unit to leak, why it leaks, how to prevent it from leaking, and how to perform DIY repairs.
Clues on How to Determine if Your Water Heater Unit is Leaking
The very first sign that you have a leaking water heater is that there is a puddle of water present around the unit.
Heating units must not be installed in any location wherein the leaky water heater may result in property damage. One of the simplest and easiest solutions may be the installation of the drain pan, shut off device and the water leak detector. The sensors are used to trigger the alarm or to turn off the incoming cold water in cases when a leaking problem is detected.
Condensation can also be considered as a leaking problem due to the fact that the amount of water and suddenness when it happens. It normally disappears when the water heater unit becomes warmer. The excessive condensation normally occurs during the colder months, particularly during winter and early spring.
Take note that you can typically find where a gas water heater leaks by looking into the combustion chamber with the use of a flashlight and then pointing it into different areas of the jacket.
Water Heater Leaking – Leakage Points
In gas-powered water heater units, when hard water is heated (and also because of its hardness), the minerals are separated and they tend to attach to the hot surface. During the heating process, these surfaces become much hotter, which in turn affects the metal tank. To prevent this, make it a point to regularly flush the tank at least twice a year or you could also opt to install a water softener.
In electric-powered water heater units, when hard water is heated (and also because of its hardness), sediments will tend to form, which in turn will cause the heating elements to become very hot and break, resulting in water heater leaking. To prevent this, make it a point to conduct regular maintenance, install a water softener, or install heating elements that are resistant to failure which can be caused by lime buildup.
There is also a significant amount of vapor in flue gases and the vapor typically condenses on the vent pipe and draft hood on the top of the water heater tank. When the products of combustion cool, the moisture then becomes liquid, which is then known as carbonic acid that attacks the metal. In order to solve this problem, you can try installing a water heater that is properly sized so that there is no quick drop in the temperature whenever it is used. Another simple solution to this problem is to install a mixing valve in order to minimize the cold water impact.
Plumbing pipes are also prone to condensation, so it is wise to insulate them as well.
If you discover and verify that the plumbing is the source of the leaking problem, locate the leak and fix it.
The anode fitting rod may also cause a water heater unit to leak. The metal anode rode is usually responsible for preventing internal corrosion inside the water heater unit. Whenever it is used (and also because of the water action), the sacrificing rod tends to dissolve at a slow rate.
Due to high pressure or thermal expansion in the plumbing, it may cause the temperature-pressure relief (TPR) valve to open or to leak. Excessive pressure occurring in the water heater tank causes failure of joints, gaskets and welds. It will be helpful if you add an expansion tank which can limit the pressure to reaching a near incoming pressure. The TPR valve also limits pressure to the factory set max. The temperature-pressure relief (TPR) valve fitting may be the one that causes the water heater unit to leak. If this is the case, you can either replace or reseal it.
If the drain valve is slightly open, tighten the drain valve.
Water normally expands when heated as it is considered to be a non-compressible type of liquid. For each 10°F increase in the water temperature, the water expands at about 0.2%. As the temperature continues to increase, the maximum designed water pressure can possibly exceed and therefore can cause the water heater unit to bulge and leak.
The water may be too hot. When stored at 160°F (72°C), it is twice as corrosive as when it is at 140°F (60°C).
During the start-up, condensation normally occurs. Keep in mind that about one half of gallon of condensate during every hour of operation is considered to be absolutely normal for a residential water heater unit. It takes about 1 to 2 hours for the water heater tank to warm up, so the condensation should disappear at that period of time.
There may be improperly sealed connections, drain valve, temperature pressure relief (TPR) valve, relief valve and the thermostat connection. Ensure that these are properly sealed.
Contaminated air and chemical vapors from various household cleaners may come in contact with a burning flame or electric source, which in turn can create various acids that can attack the metal tank and cause it to corrode. A simple solution to this is to provide a cleaner, chemical-free room or to buy a direct vent heater that utilizes air from the outside environment.
Take note that you may also tend to have leakage problems originating from other appliances or the plumbing line. Do not replace the water heater unit unless you did a full inspection of all the possible problems that might cause it and took corrective action such as tightening threaded connections, replacing broken parts, and other corrective measures as mentioned above.