Tips on How to Troubleshoot Your Electric Water Heater
Many people take for granted their electric water heaters at home. When these handy water heaters get broken or something minor goes wrong with them, people do not know how to troubleshoot or fix it. Honestly, electric water heaters are very easy to troubleshoot when you understand the heating process and when you know the plumbing as well as the appliances. What you should know before doing any repairs is how an electric water heater works and most especially know what its main components are.
Note: This is a guide written most especially for those who need to know about troubleshooting electric water heaters with 30, 40, 50-gallon capacity and also larger ones, meant for residential use.
The Electric Water Heater – Its Elements and How They Work
When you get to know the basic elements of an electric water heater and how they work, it would be much easier for you to perform electric water heater troubleshooting. Assuming that the electric water heater was properly installed and was functioning correctly prior to any occurrence of problems, below are some of the typical electric water heater elements you need to become familiar with:
The cold water from house plumbing goes into the heater tank, through the dip tube and then fills the tank from the bottom up.
The upper thermostat with the pre-set temperature calls for heating and then turns on the upper heating element in order to heat the water.
Water gets warmer and by the time it reaches the set temperature, the top thermostat switches the power on to the bottom thermostat, and then it applies power on the bottom heating element until it reaches the set temperature.
Once you open the tap when doing dishes or going for a shower, the hot water is drawn from the topmost part of the unit, through plumbing to the opened faucet.
If the hot water at the top of the water heater tank is too high, the red button will actually trip and then cut the power to both heating elements.
There is a sacrificial anode rod inside the heater tank which prevents corrosion due to the heating process. It is actually replaceable.
The temperature relief valve or TPR valve prevents extreme pressure from occurring inside the tank, helping the excessive water or air to come out.
For tank flushing or draining, there is a drain valve present at the bottom part of the tank.
Keep in mind that the problems and troubleshooting tips mentioned above are exclusively for electric water heaters that are tank type. Also, in order to safely troubleshoot an electric water heater, you should have basic electrical knowledge.
How to Troubleshoot Your Electric Water Heater – Troubleshooting Tips
Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting: Problem #1 – No Hot Water
In order to solve this problem of having no hot water, first of all, check if there is power present. The main switch might be turned off. If suddenly you have no hot water, then maybe your water usage has exceeded the tank capacity. If that is what happened, simply wait for the heater to recover.
Another sound solution might be to press the red reset button located on the upper thermostat. If 10 minutes have passed and you still do not have hot water, then check if there is electricity being delivered to the appliance. Check the heater’s pair of circuit breaker in the breaker panel. If the breakers are on, verify if there is a voltage by using the voltage tester, at the input terminals of the upper heating element. If you find out that there is no voltage, the thermostat has to be replaced. If there is voltage present, then the heating elements need to be replaced.
Other probable culprits of having no hot water in your electric water heater might be as follows:
Shorted wiring – just do some rewiring
Circuit overload – reduce the load or provide adequate circuitry
Improper wiring – rewire as per the wiring diagram found in the user manual
Heat buildup because of loose wiring – just tighten the wire connections
Grounded thermostat or element – just do some rewiring
Defective high-limit switch – just replace
Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting: Problem #2 – Higher-pitched Whining
When the electrical heating elements of an electric water heater are used many times for months to years, and the water condition in your home and area plumbing is hard water, it will then cause a major buildup of lime or scale deposits and even other mineral sediments on the electrical heating elements.
A very good solution to this problem is to perform some preventive maintenance and make it a habit to flush your electric water heater regularly. To do this, remove and clean the heating elements from the scale buildup. If there is no improvement to your water heater’s performance, then you may need to replace them.
Another good solution is to install some low-watt density heating elements that have a bigger contact surface in order for them to transfer heat to the water more efficiently.
Electric Water Heater Troubleshooting: Problem #3 – Slow Recovery Time, It Takes Too Long for the Water Heater to Reheat the Water
In case your electric water heater was running for quite a long time, chances are that there is insufficient hot water available for your shower. If you notice that this is happening very often, then you might have an undersized electric water heater. Depending on its recovery rate, you have no choice but to wait for a moment for your water to be reheated.
Another probable cause of this might be that the thermostat is set too low, especially in the wintertime and in a cold room, wherein the most obvious solution would be to simply increase the temperature, but not too high because extremely hot water can lead to burns and scalding.
Also, your lower thermostat or lower heating element might be becoming faulty or defective, so you need to replace them.
Improper and loose wiring or the thermostat may not be installed the proper way.
If there is a scale formed on the heating elements due to the hard water action, what would most likely happen is that the contact surface between the fully immersed elements and water will decrease and therefore, it needs to be cleaned.
How Water Heater Works – Top Water Heaters
For many reasons, water heating is now considered an essential need for every home or any business establishment. People use hot water for many typical reasons, like bathing or showering, for cooking, cleaning, and dishwashing. However, doing the usual water heating, like the use of kettles, pots and cauldrons could be a hassle to some home owner’s behalf as well as to those individuals whose been running a business, specifically restaurants, bars, clubs and hotels. Of course it would cause anyone a lot of time which is not ideal and truly inconvenient at all.
The metal vessels used for water heating as mentioned, does not generate a constant supply of hot water (with the same temperature) for the entire day, unless if you’re doing the whole process over and over again. These days, the most popular appliance which can provide the constant right temperature of hot water you’ve always wanted is the well-known water heaters, also called as hot water heaters, boilers, geysers, and hot water tanks.
Water heaters vary its name depending on how it literally works, if it uses potable or non-potable water, the type of usage (household or industrial), and of course the source of energy. Such an appliance is powered by electricity which is capable of heating the usual temperature of water for your own convenience. Knowing such fact, it is truly a great loss for some who actually just take this kind of appliance for granted without even realizing the real worth and the convenience this appliance provides you and your family.
How water heater works?
Once you have a water heater installed, this then is connected to the whole water pipe of the place. Whenever faucets and showers are turned on, the heated water is then carried through the dip tube at the bottom for distribution (Of course you always have the control with the temperature level you wish for that particular usage). It has a thermostat which activates the heating elements through an electric mode whenever the temperature of the water drops.
How to make the right purchase?
Purchasing the right item is what we always look forward to whenever shopping. It is a must to be open-minded as always with every option you have for that particular product. With that, you’ll get to compare the best ones that really suits your needs and wants. Now what to consider when buying a water heater?
Reviews and Feedbacks: There is no better than being fully aware of the type of product you are about to buy. Give yourself some time to read reviews about the item itself.
Type When choosing a water heater, make sure that you always know what you need. Water heaters are of 2 types:
– Storage Type Electric Water Heater
– Instant Electric Water Heater
Volume: Consider the number of faucets and showers that needs the water heater, like for instance the number of its users every day. It is important to know the size of a water heater fits for your usage.
Speed Recovery: Know the item’s speed of heated water replacement. There should be a difference in its speed depending on the size and energy it uses. Remember: The faster it replaces the heated water the higher energy it consumes.
Self Sanitation: Choose a water heater that is capable of lessening lime sediments build-up.
Energy Factor: Find out how much energy does it cost (It can be determined based on the heat it can transfer in less than an hour).
Cost: Consider the lifetime cost of the product, including cleaning maintenance, energy cost, operation cost, etc.
How to Maintain the Cleanliness of Water Heater
The best feature of the water heater is its easy-clean-maintenance procedure. We are fully aware how the heater works and basing from the information above, it is indeed a heavy-duty appliance but despite knowing such, just by following the easy cleaning instructions provided by the Company from where your heater is manufactured, then you don’t have to worry about anything else, because the consumer’s guide has it all.
Now, why is it essential to ensure that the heater’s cleanliness is maintained? The very important point is of course the cleanliness and safeness of the water that is pumped through the tank. If the tank itself is dirty, chances are, the water would be contaminated and may not be safe to consume, higher energy cost, and shorter lifespan.
Precautions: Since water heaters are electric-powered and you are dealing with hot water, always be careful about handling the heater while cleaning it. Make certain that it is no longer connected to the electricity and wait until the water cools down before doing the procedure. Use hand gloves, apron, and if possible a mask while cleaning. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully to avoid mistakes and any lapses, also for safety purposes.
A Brief Look Into Portable Water Heaters
We all love taking hot showers. That is a given fact whether you live in the cold regions or in the not so cold regions. This is because a hot shower helps to refresh and rejuvenate your muscles not only from the stresses of work, but also when the weather feels a bit chilly. This makes having a water heater, regardless of type, essential for many homes. In short, it is a convenient household equipment to have.
Spending some time on the great outdoors with your family or friends can be a great way to rest and relax from the hustle and bustle of city living. It not only gives you quality time with them, but it also allows you to be close to nature. Going camping has always been a good past time for many as getting close to nature and leaving all the modern conveniences of life happens to be a great and worthwhile experience. It somewhat gives you a glimpse on what it is like not to have the things you take for granted, such as TV, refrigerator, air-conditioning, heating, microwave, oven, computers, internet, and other stuff you usually don’t bother giving a second look.
For some, camping is a family occasion that they do once a year. They treat camping as a fun and memory-building opportunity that they can share with their family. The truth is, camping is really great. The only problem with camping is that it’s hard taking a hot bath. In order to take a hot bath, some people boil water in kettles or pans and mix the heated water with cold water on a large container. This is a method often used by campers which can be quite troublesome. While it is true that you are doing things the more traditional way, it doesn’t always have to be like that. A hot bath should always be a hot bath which means you do not need to go back to the more traditional way as it is simply more convenient to have a portable water heater.
There are actually many brands that offer portable water heaters such as Coleman, Rheem, Lakewood, Zodi, Kenmore, Ecotemp, and many more. Many of these models are constructed using durable steel frames that can withstand the wear from frequent traveling. Some units are equipped with batteries, some are powered by propane, and some can be plugged-in your car’s cigarette lighter plug.
The main reason for buying portable water heaters is not for luxurious reasons, but because you find a need for it whenever you travel and explore the great outdoors. The best part in having a portable unit is you can allow children to use it without worrying about them getting scorched by boiling water. The truth is portable water heaters are not simply for camping alone as you can also bring it when going on a vacation in a mountain cabin.
The Coleman portable water heater comes with a collapsible 5-gallon water container and can heat 40 gallons of water using only a 16.4 oz propane cylinder. The unit comes with an on/off switch which also operates the igniter. The unit is capable of heating cold water in less than five seconds and pumps out water using a rechargeable battery pump. It has a foldable spout that swings out so you can have access to heated water. The best part about the Coleman portable water heating unit is that it is very portable that you can bring not just during your camping trips, but also during your fishing trips and other outdoor activity.
The Zodi Outback Gear portable water heater comes in single and double burner showers. A single burner requires 1 propane cylinder and a double burner requires 2 propane cylinders. The pump of the unit runs using a 6 volt 4 D-cell batteries and can be attached to any water source or container to provide you with the hot water you need. The unit is also equipped with an ignition switch to facilitate easy startup. The Zodi portable water heater also has several accessories, including an 8-foot hose with a multi-face shower head. An additional shower stall can be purchased which is a frame covered with a lightweight tarpaulin-like cover. This not only provides you with a hot shower, but also some privacy when taking it.
The Zodi portable water heater has a high impact storage case which can also serve as a 4-gallon container. This is enough to supply you with hot water when you need it. The Zodi water heating unit is also very portable, making it very convenient to carry when traveling. Its compact form factor allows it to be tucked neatly inside its carrying bag.
As with most portable devices, the portable water heater has its own advantages as well as limitations. These limitations are quite prevalent when you are in a really cold environment. Nevertheless, the advantages of having a portable water heating unit still make up for its limitations. The list below shows some of the advantages of having a portable water heater.
If you have the unit, you can have heated water each time you need it when on the great outdoors.
The unit has a temperature adjustment setting so you can adjust it according to your liking whenever taking a shower or bath. Some portable units even have 5-gallon containers which is enough for a quick shower.
The pumps that the units have run on rechargeable batteries. However, it pays to check the charge of the batteries before leaving home. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a dead pump. Unless of course you have a spare battery with you.
Similar to other water heaters, the heated water from these units can also be used for cooking, washing dishes and laundry.
Having a portable water heating unit can really be helpful when you are outdoors camping. However, it is still important to ask yourself whether you really need to have the unit. While it is true that it makes some camping details convenient, if you hardly go camping at all, then it will not serve its purpose. In the event you plan on buying one, it is highly recommended that you check for the durability and quality of the unit before buying them.
Atwood and Suburban RV Water Heaters
RV water heaters are very useful appliances when it comes to providing hot water for your needs even while you are traveling – in the shower, for dishwashing, for clothes washing, handwashing, etc. When it comes to the subject of RV water heaters, there are two most common and popular types according to brand or the manufacturer’s name – the Atwood and the Suburban water heaters.
Atwood RV Water Heater
Atwood water heater units come from a group of famous RV water heater manufacturers that are producing and designing models for outdoor applications and recreation vehicles, for several years.
Each and every Atwood RV water heater model is certified by the Canadian Standards Association for installation in RVs or mobile homes, and they strictly comply with the local codes and American ANSI standard. Atwood water heaters are recognized for their reliability in the RV setting, quality, and even in marine products and services.
Atwood also offers a wide array of RV accessories such as the adjustable thermostat, door mounting system, drain plugs, thermal cut off kit, so that you can be fully equipped while you are on the go, whether you are traveling somewhere or having a camping trip.
Take Note: During the cold winter season, in case you are not going to use your RV, it is recommended that you drain all the water from the Atwood water heater unit, as it might freeze.
The Atwood water heater unit and the Atwood RV products are specially designed to save space, reduce visibility and to offer a more attractive and integrated appearance of a mobile home. They are reliable and light, so they can be utilized even in difficult mobile outdoor conditions.
Based on its lighting options, there are basically three Atwood water heater models available:
Atwood RV water heater with electronic ignition
Pilot ignition – which has to be manually lit.
Pilot re-light ignition – which has to be manually lit also. It automatically re-lights when extinguished by the wind.
Based on its sizes, there are typically two Atwood water heater tanks available:
The 6-gallon capacity – has a gas input of 8,800 BTU.
The 10-gallon capacity – has a gas input of 10,000 BTU.
The Atwood RV water heater mainly utilizes propane gas or LP for heating. They can also actually operate from an electrical source, off an electrical hook-up or a generator, with the use of the RV’s engine cooling system and by combining two fuel sources.
If you are currently using motorcoach engines and wasted energy to heat the water, it is actually a huge advantage, as your hot water is readily available when you arrive at your destination, thus saving you on energy/propane.
Take Note: Never run a gas water heater when the RV is in motion.
As a matter of fact, Atwood water heaters are very easy to service. Most of the RV water heater parts are readily accessible from the exterior, which saves you time for troubleshooting and repairs because there is no need for the service technician to enter your RV to complete his job.
Even if it is very accessible, problems can still arise if the water heater is not properly protected or maintained. This is why Atwood water heater units have a multiple protection system which includes a high-temperature limit switch, thermostat, and a temperature-pressure relief valve (TPR).
Take Note: In the case of gas RV water heaters, the fresh air for combustion has to be provided from the outside environment and combustion products must be vented out from the RV.
Prices of Atwood RV water heaters:
Atwood RV water heater units with electronic ignitions are typically more expensive than units with only the pilot light. The price also varies on the gas BTU input and capacity, as it can range from about $400 up to $600.
Atwood RV water heater units with only the pilot light is more affordable and its price ranges from $280 up to $450. You can search for them at online stores that deal with camping products and services, RV stores, Amazon.com, eBay, etc.
Suburban RV Water Heater
Suburban RV water heater units are typically available in the North American market and can range from three different sizes and types – from 4 to 16 gallons. Each and every model is easy to install and can fit in almost any type of RV.
Depending on the design and model of your RV, your personal preference and motor home requirements, you can purchase Suburban water heaters that are of high recovery and uses propane gas, or units that are a combination of gas/electric, and models that are using coach engine heat (also called motor aid models).
Parts of a Suburban RV water heater:
Suburban water heater tanks have a capacity of 4 to 6 gallons and are with standard-mount doors, whereas flush-mount doors area readily available for all Suburban water heaters. On the other hand, gas water heater units either use the pilot light or the direct spark ignition.
An ignition system with direct spark ignition is actually good for places with bad weather so that you can control the heater and its heating process with a remote switch from the inside of the RV.
On pilot light models, there is a re-ignitor so you no longer have to re-light the pilot when it is extinguished or when the gas supply is turned off.
Benefits of a Suburban RV water heater:
One of the key benefits of owning a Suburban water heater unit is its longer performance life, thanks to the 2 protective parts and systems.
The first protective part is the anode rode which almost neutralizes the aggressive water action on the metal tank, providing a cathodic protection. Keep in mind that the anode rode must only be removed for draining or inspection and replaced only when worn out. Take note that you should always replace the anode rode once a year, or when ¾ of the anode rod’s weight is gone so you can keep the water heater unit performing efficiently.
The second protective part is the porcelain lining which is a corrosion-resistant material so that heated water cannot significantly harm your RV heating unit.
Typically, Suburban water heater manufacturers offer up to 3 years of warranty, but in order to naturally prolong the life of your Suburban RV water heater unit, you must exercise proper care and maintenance.
Models of Suburban RV water heaters:
All Suburban water heaters have tank sizes that range from 6 to 16 gallons and are considered to be fast-recovery units with 12,000 BTU gas input and can provide high 10.2 gallons per hour recovery. This means you get more hot water with less “cold sandwiches”. Also, with a specially-designed insulation jacket, more heat remains and there is less heat loss.
In order for you to obtain a faster recovery rate, your RV water heater must be able to utilize both a gas burner and electric heating element at the same time.
Due to its small size, Suburban RV water heaters can be easily installed. It is also very convenient to use, operate, and maintain.
Suburban RV water heaters aren’t sold directly to customers and are normally being sold exclusively through local motor-coach dealers, but you can still opt to buy Suburban water heater units online.
Prices of Suburban RV water heaters:
The common price for a Suburban RV water heater that has a 10-gallon tank size with 12,000 BTU is around $350.
For troubleshooting, problems and repairs concerning Atwood RV water heaters and Suburban RV water heaters, please refer to this how-to guide.
Is a Tankless Water Heater the Smarter Choice for You?
Nowadays, due to the advancements in technology, there are many home appliances that have been invented and improved to make our lives easier. A home appliance that is most probably considered to be one of the most useful in many households is a water heater. Many people have different opinions and experiences regarding water heaters. Some prefer to have a traditional or the tank-type water heater units, while there are those who like the smaller tankless water heaters.
Choosing the tank-type or the tankless water heater may be a rather easy task for you, but do you really know which one would really suit your needs? Tankless water heaters actually can help you save on your energy consumption, but do you know that these units are actually not the best choice for everyone? Below are some ways on how to figure out if a tankless water heater is the smarter choice for you.
It is a common fact that a lot of tankless water heater units in your home will definitely provide you and your family a lot of hot water available for all your daily needs. Also, your expenses would definitely be less expensive if you have these units installed outside of your home.
If you and your family tend to do many things at the same time with the use of hot water such as bathing, washing clothes, and washing dishes, then a low-capacity tankless water heater unit could give you a “cold water sandwich effect” and this is quite a problem for those who would like to use hot water all the way but get cold water after they turn off the tap and then turn on it again. On the other hand, tankless water heater units which heat water only when turned on, are more energy-efficient unlike the traditional tank-type water heater units which continuously warm the water whether you need it or not.
Which Water Heater Should You Get – Tank-type or Tankless?
Traditional tank-type water heaters usually are placed in the basement due to the fact that they are normally bulky in order to be able to deliver gallons of hot water at one time. For instance, a 60 to 80-gallon water tank can heat water that is sufficient enough to run a dishwasher, wash a load of laundry, and supply hot water to the shower, all these at the same time. However, because of the fact that standby energy loss is typical with water heaters, when you have used up all the hot water supply, then you will have to wait for 20 to 60 minutes for the water heater to heat up more water.
On the other hand, a tankless water heater generates hot water only when you need it. Once you turn on the tap, cool water is heated on the spot as it flows through the capillary-like pipes which are heated by either electric coils or a powerful gas burner.
Hot Water Supply Somewhat Limited
Even if a tankless water heater unit can pump out hot water every time, it cannot generate a huge amount of hot water at once. Also, it can suddenly destroy your showering bliss with the “cold water sandwich effect”, which is known as the sudden flow of cold water that results from the turning the hot water faucet off and on again and again.
A traditional tank-type water heater unit can supply enough hot water to run the dishwasher, help you do the laundry, and to get a shower at the same time. However, a tankless water heater unit can only do two of these activities at the same time.
Limited Hot Water – Just Install More Units
A simple solution, if you have problems with limited hot water output, is to install more tankless water heater units. Due to the fact that they are of small size, the size of a small flat box about an arm’s length, you can install a tankless water heater unit along any stretch of pipe, may it be in the basement, attic, closet, crawlspace or anywhere you like. You can actually install two or more units to supply hot water to different areas in the house, or even install one that is dedicated only to one specific use, such as in the shower.
Using more tankless water heater units actually increase the overall energy efficiency. The closer the hot water is to the area where it is needed, you actually lower your energy loss and therefore increase the energy efficiency by as much as 50% unlike when you use a traditional tank-type water heater unit. This averages about $180 in yearly savings for a typical household.
High Upfront Price
An electric tankless water heater unit has a price tag of about $400. It does not qualify for a tax credit due to the fact that it is less efficient than a gas-fired tankless water heater unit and is much appropriate for point-of-use applications such as hot water at the kitchen sink rather than to be used for the entire household.
A gas-fired tankless water heater unit has a price tag of about $1,500 to buy and install, which is almost double the price of a traditional gas water heater unit. Moreover, the plumbing is different which can further add to the initial costs. Looking at the bright side, the new energy-efficient tankless water heater unit might be eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $300 on purchase and installation.
Despite its high upfront cost, a tankless water heater unit can significantly help you save energy and money in the long run.
Save Up on Energy and Money
There are many ways how a tankless water heater can help you save up on energy and money:
If your hot water demand is low or less than 40 gallons a day, then a tankless water heater unit will be 25% to 35% more efficient energy-wise and money-wise.
If your hot water demand is quite high or more than 80 gallons a day, then a tankless water heater unit will be 8% to 15% more efficient energy-wise and money-wise.
How to Minimize Hot Water Usage
A water heater unit is a common necessity for many people all over the world, especially those who live in cold areas and have the winter season. Others may even find it a lifesaver because it can be very convenient in helping to provide us with hot water around the house. However, even if it is very convenient and it makes our lives a bit more comfortable, many people think that water heaters consume a lot of energy, and a lot of energy consumption equates to a higher electricity bill.
Of course we would like to have a lower electricity bill each month, but how can we do that and still enjoy the benefits of using hot water at home each day? The simplest solution to that is to use less hot water, but knowing how to pull that off is not as easy as it seems. Good thing that there are ways on how to use hot water and still be able to save on energy (thus, save on energy bills).
Below are simple and easy ways on how to minimize hot water usage for energy savings:
1. Fix Leaks
This is probably the very first thing that you can do in your home if you want to save at least some money on hot water consumption. Leaks, no matter how big or small they are, should be fixed up as soon as possible because you are still responsible for paying for it even if you did not really use it. Did you know that a leak of one drip per second can cost you roughly about $1 a month? By simply repairing or fixing leaks in your fixtures at home such as leaks present in showerheads, faucets, and other pipes, you can significantly minimize hot water usage.
Be aware that if in case the tank of your water heater unit is leaking, then you might need to purchase a new one.
2. Use Fixtures that have Low-Flow Rates
Federal rules and regulations nowadays mandate that new showerhead flow rates must not go beyond more than 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM) at a water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch (psi). Additionally, new faucet flow rates must not go beyond more than 2.5 GPM at 80 psi or 2.2 GPM at 60 psi. You can buy some good quality, low-flow fixtures for maybe about $10 to $30 per piece and attain water savings of about 25% to 70%.
In order to achieve maximum water usage efficiency, you need to choose a showerhead that has a flow rate of less than 2.5 GPM. There are actually two fundamental types of low-flow showerheads available in the market, which are called the laminar-flow and aerating showerheads. Aerating shower heads are those that mix air with water, thus creating a misty spray. Laminar-flow showerheads, on the other hand, create individual streams of water. If you are residing in a climate that is quite humid, then you might want to use a laminar-flow showerhead due to the fact that it will not make as much moisture and steam, unlike an aerating shower head.
Before the year 1992, showerheads at that time have had flow rates of 5.5 GPM. Thus, if you use fixtures that belong to the pre-1992 years, then you may want to replace them especially if you are not sure what their flow rates are. Below is a simple and quick test to know whether you need to replace a showerhead or not:
Put a pail that is marked in gallon increments under your bathroom showerhead.
Turn on the shower at the usual water pressure you prefer to use.
Note the time how many seconds it takes to fill up the pail to the 1-gallon (or 3.8 liters) mark.
If it takes less than 20 seconds for the water to reach the 1-gallon mark, then you ought to replace your showerhead with a low-flow one.
The aerator, or the screw-on tip of the faucet, is the one that determines the maximum flow rate of a faucet. Generally, new kitchen faucets nowadays are already equipped with aerators that limit flow rates to 2.2 GPM, while new bathroom faucets are equipped with aerators that limit flow rates from 1.5 to 0.5 GPM.
You ought to know that aerators are very cheap to replace and they can be considered to be one of the simplest yet most cost-effective water conservation techniques that you can do at home. In order to achieve maximum water efficiency, you can buy aerators that have flow rates not exceeding 1 GPM. There are some aerators that even come with shut-off valves that let you stop the water flow without affecting the temperature. If you are going to replace an aerator, do not forget to bring the one you are going to replace to the store with you so that you are ensured of a proper fit.
3. Use Dishwashers and Clothes Washers that are Energy-Efficient
Most people agree that one of the biggest energy costs they have at home is from washing dishes and clothes that require hot water. You can actually reduce your energy costs significantly if you buy and use an energy-efficient dishwasher and clothes washer.
Most people think that if they wash dishes by hand can save them a lot of hot water. However, if you wash dishes by hand many times per day, it can actually turn out to be more expensive than using an energy-efficient dishwasher. When used properly and when using it only with full loads, an energy-efficient dishwasher can significantly help you to consume less energy. If you want to make sure that your dishwasher is energy efficient, get one that has an Energy Star label.
When it comes to hot water usage, clothes washers are different from dishwashers because they do not require a minimum temperature to achieve optimum cleaning results. Thus, if you want to reduce energy consumption, you can use either cold or lukewarm water for most of your laundry loads. For rinsing, cold water is often sufficient enough. If you want to make sure that your clothes washer is really energy efficient, get one that has an Energy Star label.
A Simple Electric Water Heater Repair Guide
Almost everybody loves taking hot showers regardless of where you live. In fact, even if you live in the middle east where it is scorching hot during day time, you still need to have a water heater available because it is mighty chilly in the evening there. This is actually the case for many geographical locations where the climate may be deemed hot, but during rainy seasons or during the wee hours of the morning, the air temperature can really drop down making taking a bath with cold water a bit of a torture.
If you have a water heater at home, then surely you love using it when the temperature outdoors is cold. However, there are times that your water heater can break down which means you cannot use your water heating unit to take a shower. Sometimes, these break downs require only some type of maintenance, but there are times that some type of repair is required. The list below shows a simple water heater repair guide, provided that your unit was installed properly and has been working properly before any problem developed.
Issue: Water is not Hot
If this is the problem that you encounter, the initial thing you should check for is whether the water heating units are getting any electricity. First, open the thermostat panel plate or cover and check if the high limit switch has been tripped. The high limit switch serves as a circuit breaker and trips when the tank gets too hot. If it has been tripped, reset it and check if the water becomes hot this time. If this does not work, try to check if you have a circuit breaker installed for the electrical of your water heating unit and check if it tripped and reset it.
If both circuit breakers are not the problem, then the problem may lie with the heating element. Check the heating element if it is receiving any power and if so, the heating element should get hot. However, if it doesn’t, then the heating element will need to be replaced. On the other hand, if the upper heating element is not getting any power, then the upper thermostat must be replaced.
Issue: Water is too Hot
A possible reason would be if the thermostats are not pushed tightly next to the tank.
Another reason is maybe one of the thermostats. Confirm if there is power at the topmost heating element. If there is power present, then there is a defect on the top thermostat. If there is power present on the lower heating element, then there is a defect on the lower thermostat.
Issue: Water Temperature is too Low or the Hot Water is not Sufficient Enough
When the topmost part of the tank is hot, the top thermostat takes away the power from the top heating element and transfers the power to the lower thermostat and heating element. In case the lower thermostat is not working or defective, then the lower part of the tank will not be heated and the hot water supply will be significantly lessened.
Verify if there is power present at the top thermostat terminals (this is where the power is sent to the lower thermostat and heating element). If there is no power at the top thermostat terminals, then they should be changed. If there is power present, verify if there is power at the lower heating element. If there is no power present at the lower heating element, then it should be changed. If there is power present at the lower heating element, then it should get hot. If it does not, change it. Another likely possibility might be a busted dip tube. Verify if the dip tube is indeed busted and change it if needed.
There are many kinds of bacteria that can come in contact with the magnesium anode rod and produce an odor resembling that of rotten eggs. Simply clean the tank with the use of chlorine bleach or you can also change the anode rod into aluminum – this usually solves the issue of smelly, rotten egg odor.
Issue: Temperature Pressure Relief valve or TPR is leaking
The temperature relief valve (TPR) is active if the temperature or the pressure becomes too high.
In case the inlet is directly fed from the main with no TPR valves or check valves in between them, then once the water heater heats up, it expands and just flows back to the main. But if there is an obstruction such as a pressure-reducing valve or check valve with a broken bypass, then the increased water volume has nowhere else to go, thus increasing the pressure radically. By putting an expansion tank in the line at the inlet, the increased water volume will have someplace else to go and thus avoiding the radical increase in pressure.
Issue: There is a Banging or Popping Noise
A banging or popping noise coming from the heating elements may be caused by scale buildup. This can be solved by removing the heating elements, and then you can opt to clean or change them.
Issue: Leaking Tank
This is actually a common problem with both gas-fired water heaters and electric water heaters. If the leak seems minor and does not seem to be there at times, then it is probably just condensation trickling at the base of the unit. However, if there seems to be a puddle of water that doesn’t go away, then highly likely your water heating unit is leaking as this is the first sign of the presence of leaks.
To repair your leaking water heater, first check where the leak is coming from. If it is hard to identify, try to check the drain valve if the leak is coming from there. If it is, then tighten the drain valve properly. If the problem is not coming from the drain valve, try checking the temperature-pressure relief valve (TPR). The TPR basically protects the unit from excessive pressure buildup making it prone to leaks due to the thermal expansion of the plumbing. The leak may involve valve fittings, gaskets, and welds.
The anode rod may also be the reason for the leak. Since anode rods are sacrificial components as they attract corrosion unto themselves instead of the tank, they often dissolve after a long period of time. Now, if there are no anode rods to attract corrosion, then the tank may have gotten some sort of corrosion and have weakened. If the tank is corroded and leaking, the only solution would be to replace your water heating unit.
Storage Tank Water Heater Maintenance
Regular storage-tank water heater maintenance is important, most especially if you consider the fact that you live in an area where water has high mineral content. This makes it imperative for homeowners to have periodic inspections and maintenance over their water heaters in order to keep their units in good and efficient working conditions. This makes partial draining and flushing on a yearly basis helpful as this will help to prevent any scale and lime buildup on the tank and thereby extending its life.
Flushing Your Storage Tank Water Heater
Flushing the storage tank is fairly easy, especially for people who like doing hands-on work. However, when performing this procedure, you need to be wary as you risk yourself of being scalded with hot water.
The reason why you need to flush your storage tank on a yearly basis is that the sediments that gather inside your tank can cause serious efficiency problems as they almost often harden when they settle at the bottom of the tank. On gas or propane water heaters, the sediment buildup at the bottom of the tank will cause serious efficiency problems as the sediments act as a buffer wherein it inhibits the immediate heating of the water. Rumbling noises are evident when the water heater is not efficiently operating as it was designed to. This is also the same with electric water heaters. Sediments stick to the heating elements of the unit in the form of a whitish scale, similar to what you find inside a highly used kettle. When water is being heated, this scale acts as a buffer wherein the heat transfer from the heating element to the water is lessened and thereby reducing efficiency. The efficiency is further reduced as the scale becomes thicker. In fact, if the accumulation of sediments at the bottom of the tank becomes too great, there is a chance that the drain valve of the tank will become clogged. This type of accumulation can be prevented and controlled through regular flushing. Although it will not remove every trace of sediment, it will, however, prevent the excessive buildup of it. The procedure below shows you how to flush your tank:
1. Turn off the unit. If you have a gas unit, set it to “pilot” to prevent the burners from turning on while you are flushing the unit. If you have an electric unit, make sure to turn off the circuit breakers.
2. Connect a hose on the drain valve. Place the other end of the hose on a floor drain or snake it outside. Make sure the outlet hose is safely located away from pets and children as the water can be very hot and may scald when touched.
3. Close the shut-off valve that allows cold water in.
4. Carefully open the pressure relief valve on top of the tank and leave it open.
5. Open the drain valve at the bottom to drain the water from the tank.
– If sediments clog the drain valve, close the pressure relief valve and turn on the cold water inlet valve to flush some of the sediments out.]
– Should the sediments have hardened enough into chunks, you may need to empty the tank by turning on the hot water taps. Once the tank is empty, you need to remove the garden hose and use an ice pick or a long screwdriver to crack and shatter the clog.
6. Draining is done once the garden hose runs clear.
7. Remove the garden hose and close the drain valve.
8. Close the pressure relief valve and turn on the cold water inlet valve.
9. Open a hot water tap and allow it to run until air no longer comes out of the tap.
10. Turn on the heater.
Homeowners need to flush their water heaters regularly, every six months at the very least. However, in some areas of the country that have hard water, they may need to do this procedure more often. Once you have flushed your water heater several times, you will be able to form a schedule that is suitable in preventing the buildup of sediments in your area. Some areas though will require monthly flushing due to the condition of the water in that area.
Simple Maintenance Tips
Annually check your temperature and pressure relief valve to see if they are working properly. Check the manual for procedures on how to check them. If the valve is no longer working, make it a point to have it replaced.
At least every 6 months, drain the water tank from water to remove any sediments that might have built up or accumulated in the tank. (see procedure at top: flushing your storage tank water heater)
If you have a gas-fired storage-tank water heater, make sure to regularly inspect the exhaust stack to ensure that the pipe connections are secure and are without any obstruction, corrosion, or rust. It is important for gas-fired water heaters to vent their gasses towards the outside of the home. If some gas escapes to the inside of the home, accumulation of carbon monoxide may occur which is deadly if exposed to for prolonged periods.
Make sure to check the insulation blanket at least every three months to ensure that it is kept in proper position. It is equally important to check if the insulation blanket is not blocking any combustion air inlet or the exhaust vents of gas units for that matter.
Try checking the temperature setting of your water heater unit. If the temperature is anywhere above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, you are not just wasting energy, but you are also increasing the risk that anyone from your family will be scaled from the hot water coming out of the tap.
At least every 6 months, check the temperature gauge of your boiler to and see if it working under the correct temperature setting.
Regular maintenance of any equipment is important as this not only helps to lengthen the life expectancy of your unit, but it also allows you to detect any problems earlier on. If a problem is detected earlier, the cost for repairs will surely be at the minimal thereby saving you more money.
Things that You Should Know Before Getting a Tankless Water Heater
Are you currently out in the market looking for a water heater for your home and was wondering whether you should get a water heater with a tank or one that is tankless? Most people have different opinions about what kind of water heater you should get for your home. Some homeowners prefer the tank-type water heaters, while there are those who prefer the tankless ones. If your mind isn’t made up yet, and you are interested in getting a tankless water heater, then there are 7 things that you should know before getting one:
The 7 things you should know before getting a tankless water heater:
1. Find out about your hot water needs at home. Most of the time, the flow rate of the hot water coming from a small tankless water heater is sufficient enough for a kitchen with a dishwasher and a bathroom. The secret on how to choose the correct model is by knowing the specific flow rates of all your fixtures, your usage consumption (such as how many faucets does your family use usually at the same time), and the possible coldest temperature of the incoming water. Ask your plumber to help you select a certain size of the tankless water heater unit that suits your needs. Additionally, you can actually install more than one water heater unit to heat water by zone. For instance, you can have two tankless water heater units in one house. The first one can supply hot water needs for the bathroom and kitchen, while the second one can supply the washing machine and other bathrooms or fixtures.
2. You need to decide wisely on where to place your tankless water heater unit. Tankless water heaters utilize a strong flame in order to heat water on demand. Thus, these units need more air for combustion and tend to vent more exhaust than traditional water heaters. This actually affects where and how you install them in two ways:
Combustion air – Whether it is tankless or not, a gas-fired water heater needs an oxygen source for combustion. Your water heater unit must be sealed-combustion direct-vent in order to prevent back-drafting that combustion air through another appliance’s exhaust pipe.
Venting – For through-the-wall direct venting, the vent termination should be 3 feet from any operable window. If in case you are venting through the roof, then you should be aware that the vent length is determined by the water heater’s size (particularly the BTU output) and the number of elbows (or turns) in the vent. If in case the vent run is long (such as if the water heater unit is in the basement of a 4-story building), you might not be able to vent the water heater unit through the roof.
3. Avoid very long runs between the water heater unit and the faucet. Due to the fact that tankless water heaters generate hot water only if you turn on the hot water tap, it takes a few moments to heat the cold water to the desired optimal temperature. Placing the water heater unit far away from the tap can typically result in a significantly more evident “sandwich effect” when hot water is occasionally used. One way to solve this issue is by using a recirculation pump that brings water from the farthest fixture in the plumbing to run back to the tankless water heater unit; however, due to the fact that these recirculation pumps utilize a significant amount of energy in order to keep the water in the loop hot, it is certainly better to just buffer or preheat hot water.
4. Know if your clothes washer and dishwasher really require a water heater unit supplied to them for your hot water needs. If the situation calls for some hot water in your dishwasher or clothes washer, then you need to know if they might need hot water from your tankless water heater, or they may have the feature of heating water by themselves. Most homeowners typically assume that their appliances such as the dishwasher and clothes washer need a water heater unit, but they may be surprised that their current clothes washer is capable of heating the water by itself and only needs a cold water connection.
5. Inspect your water and gas supplies. Tankless water heater units can actually produce about 3 to 4 times the BTUs that a traditional water heater usually produces. Your plumber should make sure that your current gas line length, size, and even the gas meter can deliver enough gas flow to the water heater unit. Tankless water heaters need minimum water flows for activation as well. Therefore, your plumber must also make sure that your supply meets the specifications.
6. Expect that your contractor might reject the idea of getting a tankless water heater unit. Because of issues on time and liability, it is common that many contractors do not like to try out something new. If you have made up your mind that what you need is a tankless water heater, insist that you will get it and find a contractor who will be willing to work with you. Find someone who actually has experience in installing tankless water heater units. You can give the contractor the manufacturer’s installation instructions which are oftentimes available online, if in case it is not completely provided with the unit. You might also like to get in touch with the manufacturer’s customer service/technical support department if you need some assistance or if you need advice on size and other concerns.
7. Ensure that the venting material abides by the local building codes and the manufacturer’s specifications. Did you know that there is a specific venting material for tankless water heaters? The specific venting material for tankless water heaters is typically made from stainless steel. It has built-in seals in order to prevent carbon monoxide from leaking into your house. Depending on the design of your house, a double-walled material may be needed (you need to be aware that this is quite expensive). Your HVAC contractor or plumber might miss this kind of specification.
Facts you ought to know about Tankless Water Heaters
Are you going to buy a tankless water heater the next time you need to buy a water heater unit? If it is going to be your first time in buying a tankless water heater, then you ought to know some of its benefits as well as its limitations. Of course, tankless water heaters are believed by many people to be more energy efficient than the traditional tank-type water heaters.
It is actually a general notion that most people have heard that tankless water heaters are much better than traditional tank-type ones due to the fact that they heat the water up only when it is needed and so it results in having no standby energy losses at all. Moreover, these tankless water heaters are used by a lot of households all over the world for quite a long time from now.
However, the thing is, this general notion is not that very accurate. There are some situations that make the tankless water heaters look like a gift from heaven as they are very useful and it makes our everyday lives comfortable, but it is not every time that they are the perfect solution to everything. Below are some things that explain this statement further.
What Is It Exactly That You Want When It Comes to Water Heaters?
Water heater companies conduct surveys about what people want their water heater to do for them and these are what they got:
People are by nature not a very patient species, which means that they do not want to wait for hot water to come out of their water heater unit. Once they turn on the water heater unit, it should deliver them hot water as soon as possible.
It is a very unpleasant feeling to run out of hot water while you are showering, right? A lot of people do not like that, especially if they are in a hurry but would still like to have a proper shower to start their day.
Of course, even if #1 and #2 points are met, nobody would still want to buy a water heater if it costs them a lot of hard-earned money. Therefore, before they buy, they should find out if the water heater really meets their needs, and when they have confirmed that, then they should see if the price still is able to fit in their budget.
The Risk Factor
Companies of tankless water heaters, through the years, have come and gone. When they are presently operating, they sell many of their water heater units. When they go, they tend to leave their consumers high and dry – no technical support, no spare parts, no warranty and not even an online customer support or a simple help desk. There are even some companies that have abandoned their customers before in the past, but now they are back in business (some actually just changed their brand or company names).
Building Up The Hype
Tankless water heater units, in reality, are considered as an “oversold” commodity. This means that customers are lured in to buy tankless water heaters due to claims that they have a greater efficiency, it is an eco-friendly option to have them, you are one of the modern class or you are thought to be “cool” if you have them, and they provide users with greater savings. All of these claims typically are enough to convince consumers to buy these tankless water heaters, until they realize that they have actually paid a lot more cash upfront, that their electric/gas bills are obviously much higher than before, and that they are forced to face costly service bills or else if they skip maintenance checks and other types of service, they will void their tankless water heater unit’s warranty.
Initial Price Tag
A very sad fact is that it is very difficult to cheat the laws of physics. When you heat up water, the gas that is going to be burned or the electricity that is going to be used up and unless you have a condensing heater, it is going to cost you the same amount to heat up a certain amount of water, no matter which one you use – be it with a traditional tank-type water heater or a tankless one. Normally, tankless water heaters have an initial price tag that is many times more expensive than traditional tank-type water heaters.
A recent price comparison being done by water heater companies showed that a 40-gallon traditional tank-type water heater unit can provide a family with 2 showers at the same time and a tankless water heater unit doing the same thing resulted to prices of $330 versus $990. These are actually prices of the water heater units fresh off the shelf. Installation fees run something around $500 for traditional tank-type water heaters versus $2,000 for tankless water heaters. It is actually a very serious price gap considering that it will really take you a very long time to save enough on your energy bills to make up for the initial price that you pay when you first buy it, if that is even a possibility. Moreover, a tankless water heater unit is a very complex machine, and it may tend to break down long before you ever get to save from your energy bills.
It is a fact that there are no standards by which you can successfully compare the efficiency of tankless water heaters to that of the traditional tank-type water heaters. Tankless water heater manufacturers, as it is typical with other appliance businesses, tend to make comparisons that make their products seem to look much better such as with a tank-type water heater with 1-inch insulation, although there are available tank-type water heaters that have up to 3 inches of insulation which is a really big difference. Another comparison they make is that they claim that tankless water heaters have efficiencies that are based on a 35-degree rise in water temperature, which is usually less or half of real-world situations in several parts of the country.
The Various Types of Water Heaters
Are you currently in the market shopping for your next water heater? These days, you should be well aware of the fact that there are many types of water heaters available for you to choose from. Most people normally are only aware of the fact that their only option is the traditional storage tank-type water heater or the more modern tankless ones. If you are a conscious consumer who wants to get the best deal out of your hard-earned money, it is ideal that you get the best water heater that can deliver hot water for your everyday needs, be eco-friendly, affordable, able to meet you and your family’s hot water demands, easy to maintain and repair or replace if the need arises, and most importantly, can last you a very long time.
Below are different types of water heaters that can help you decide which one is the best for you. Normally, water heaters are essentially grouped according to their fuel source, the type of technology used, their size as well as other features.
Types of Water Heaters According to Size and Technology Used
Storage or Tank-type Water Heaters
Storage or tank-type water heaters for residential purposes are considered to be the most popular of all heating systems. Hot water is always available for use. Even if you are away, the water heater is keeping the hot water available for you.
Tankless water heaters, also called on-demand water heaters, are water heating units that do not have any tank at all. They heat the water only when needed, which can be very beneficial for you since it reduces energy consumption and also your expenses at the same time. They can last longer than the traditional storage or tank-type water heaters and they are more eco-friendly.
Electric Heat Pump Water Heaters
Electric heat pump water heaters are an inexpensive method of heating water that utilizes electricity in order to extract heat from the air and then move heat from one location to another, which produces hot water very efficiently.
Types of Water Heaters According to Fuel Source
Gas water heaters may use either natural gas or propane gas. If you have no problem acquiring natural or propane gas, then this type of water heater is a very good choice as gas-powered units are considered to be one of the most energy-efficient systems. Gas water heaters can either be a tank or tankless unit. In order to find out how much hot water it can make, just take a look at the water heater’s specs and the gas input in BTU per hour.
If electricity is most convenient for you to use and it is the only one available that you can use, then you can opt for an electric water heater for your hot water needs. These units may have a higher energy factor than the gas types, but they can turn out to be more expensive in the long run.
Solar water heaters simply harness the power of the sun in order to heat the water. In the long run, using this solar energy that is renewable and virtually free, solar water heaters can prove to be an excellent lifelong investment.
Wood-fired or Wood-burning Water Heaters
Wood-fired water heaters and wood furnaces are types of heating appliances that utilize wood in order to do heating tasks such as home heating, cooking, and for water heating.
Oil-fired water heater units are a very conventional method of heating water, and they are becoming less popular for home use due to the ever-increasing availability of gas, electricity and other green-tech systems. Another reason why they are becoming less popular is that they are more expensive to install and they only last a few years or so.
Other Types of Water Heaters
Condensing water heaters are energy-efficient systems with only less than 10% of energy loss emitted (storage-tank water heater units are with 40% loss), and they also use the heat energy from the flue gases. Due to the fact that they need professional installation and regular maintenance service, condensing water heater units are typically considered to be more on the expensive side. They are most popular in European areas with brands such as Buderus, Junkers, and Vaillant.
High-efficiency Water Heaters
The main reasons why people love to use high-efficiency water heaters are: to maximize energy, experience better performance, and minimize operating costs. High-efficiency water heaters are easily recognizable since they carry the Energy Star seal, which is the international symbol for energy efficiency.
Direct Vent Water Heaters
Direct vent water heaters are the most appropriate solution if you are planning to have a gas water heater but you do not actually have proper ventilation to the outside environment, such as through the chimney. Direct vent water heaters have a built-in venting system that brings in the air and then forces the fumes out, but without the need of using an electric-powered blower.
Power vent water heaters are somewhat similar to the direct vent water heater units; however, it utilizes an electrically-operated powered vent (blower) in order to help with mechanically exhausting the combustion gases to the outside environment.
If in case you already possess a furnace or boiler with a burner, by just combining it with a high-efficient storage tank, you can now have a very efficient system for heating. These types of systems are typically called indirect water heaters.
Point of Use Water Heaters
Point of use water heaters (also called under sink water heaters, under cabinet water heaters, or under counter water heaters) are typically small water heaters that are designed either as a mini-storage tank or tankless unit and are used for heating water at the point of service, often installed under the kitchen sink. These point of use water heaters are very popular in residential applications because they can provide instant hot water without taking up a lot of space and without the need for long connections to the main water pipe.
RV water heaters typically use propane gas and 120 V AC. Depending on the overall size of the RV, the most common RV water heaters used are the 6-gallon and the 10-gallon tanks. They are fairly easy to operate, maintain and most important of all, they are very reliable and sturdy. The most popular brand names for RV water heaters are Suburban and Atwood.
Tankless Coil Water Heaters
Tankless coil water heaters do not utilize any storage tank for heating since the water is directly heated inside the boiler. It is typically used for home’s space heating and the option of heating the water is just a plus. Tankless coil water heater units are considered to be the most efficient heating appliances during the colder months when they are used for space heating; however, they are less efficient during the warmer months because the boiler is used less frequently.
Marine water heaters, as the name implies, are specifically made for sailors or boaters in order for them to still enjoy the comforts of having a warm or hot shower while at sea. Also, these marine water heaters also help with a boater’s small jobs where hot water is needed. When away from shore, the marine water heater runs off of the boat’s engine loop, without the need to use electricity. Popular manufacturers of marine water heater units include Atwood, Webasto, Isotemp, Torrid, etc.