The Different Types of Water Heaters
There are many different types of water heaters. These water heating units, depending on their type and model, use different energy resources to raise the temperature of water. The heated water will then be stored (as with storage tank water heaters) or be used instantly (as with on-demand water heaters). The different types of water heaters would include storage tank water heaters, tankless water heaters, solar water heaters, and integrated space and water heating systems.
Storage Tank Water Heaters – these water heaters are the most common types and they are the types used in a lot of households all across the United States and Canada. Perhaps the reason behind their popularity is that they are the most affordable to both buy and install. This type of water heating system heats and stores the heated water on a tank so it will be available for use when needed. The main advantage of this water heating system is that it can store large amounts of heated water continuously. Of course, storing hot water does have its disadvantages as the heated water will eventually cool down. This makes it necessary for the unit to reheat the water to the desired preset level once it reaches a certain temperature; something which inevitably costs money as heating consumes energy. Having extra insulation will help prevent the fast cooling down of the heated water. On average, a typical storage tank water heater will last you around 10 years. A specific model may use electric, gas, or oil as its main heating element. Gas-fired models may cost more to buy and install as compared to electric models. Then again, if you compare operating cost and the savings you get from using gas instead of electricity, the savings you get with your utility bills may be well worth it in the long run. The main issue with storage tank units is that they require regular maintenance in order to prevent the buildup of scale and lime inside the tank. This kind of buildup will make the unit inefficient, making it work harder and consume much more energy in comparison to a regularly maintained unit. Flushing the unit every 6 months will help to prevent such buildup.
Tankless Water Heaters – also known as instantaneous water heaters or on-demand water heaters, these water heating systems have rid the use of storage tanks. Instead, they heat water only when it is needed thus eliminating any standby heat loss or the need for any tank insulation. These types of water heaters are very efficient and cost effective since they heat water only when hot water is needed. In addition, since they no longer use any storage tanks, owners will be able to save valuable household space. Perhaps the best thing about tankless water heaters is that they are most likely to last longer than storage tank types. In fact, if you maintain your tankless unit properly, it is likely to last you from 15 to 20 years. This is likely the reason why manufacturers offer longer warranties for them. Another thing that makes tankless-types water heaters the units to consider is that they are very easy to repair when compared to other types of water heating units. The truth is there are basically two types of tankless water heating units –
the whole house type and the point-of-use type. Whole house units, as the name suggests, are large enough to accommodate the hot water usage of a whole household. Point-of-use units on the other hand are small units that are commonly installed near the area where they will be used. There are even times they are used along with other water heating units to help raise the
temperature, particularly in households where a lot of hot water taps are turned on
simultaneously and the main water heating unit is not able to cope up with the demand. Perhaps the main disadvantage with this type of water heating unit is that it takes some time before it reaches the hot water temperature you require for showering. Another disadvantage it has is that when multiple hot water taps are opened simultaneously, the hot water it is able to provide dissipates as it will be providing hot water for multiple taps.
Solar Water Heaters – for people living in warm areas or areas where the sun shines bright most times of the year, a solar water heater can be the most cost effective way to enjoy hot showers. Since solar energy is free, having a solar water heater will alleviate any additional cost in your utility bills used for water heating. In fact, a solar water heater can provide nearly 70% of the hot water requirements of a typical household while the return of investment can happen in just five to seven years. A solar water heating system basically works by storing hot water on insulated tanks and different solar water heating systems use different ways to heat water. There are generally two types of solar water heaters – active and passive. Active solar water heating systems uses either heat-transfer fluid (indirect) or allows water to circulate through the collector and heat exchanger (direct) in order to heat water. Passive solar water heating systems on the other hand has a storage tank atop the solar collectors. Once water is heated by the collectors, the heated water will go up the tank while the cold water that goes to the bottom will have its turn to be heated. Depending on how a solar water heater is utilized, it is likely to cost less in the long run. While it is true that the initial investment may be quite high, but the overall savings you get from using free energy will definitely offset the price you paid initially.
Integrated Space and Water Heating System – this is a type of combination heating system that heats both air-space and water. For new homes on areas with cool climates, this may be a practical investment as only a single boiler will be used for heating both water and the inside space of the home. The system works by heating water in an external storage tank. The heat is then collected by fans and coils to be distributed inside the home as warm air.
Tips in Buying and Maintaining RV Water Heaters
It is a common fact that the water heater installed in your RV is primarily a propane gas appliance. Typically, the water heater unit that is installed in most RVs has a 6-gallon tank, but bigger RVs may have 10-gallon or even up to 16-gallon tanks. An RV water heater may operate only on gas or on gas and/or 120 volt AC, depending on the model installed.
Tips on Buying an RV Water Heater
RV water heaters are typically built as small and lightweight water heating devices, with the purpose of being installed below the floor, behind the baggage door, or outside, so you can have more space to enjoy in your mobile home, and still be able to enjoy the benefits of having hot water anywhere and anytime you like.
RV water heater are considered to be very convenient not only by providing hot water with the use of the RV engine’s heat (while driving), but also it can provide electricity from the electrical system or generator.
When you are in the search to buy an RV water heater, the best model is the one that meets all your needs, has high performance, has a decent tank life and is extremely reliable. Of course, you would not want to experience going outdoors while on a camping trip in the mountains only to discover that your RV water heater unit is not working properly at all.
Unlike other types of water heaters such as those used in a residential bathroom or in a hotel, RV water heater units are very robust and durable. Even if you are currently on the road driving your RV through rough terrains, unpleasant weather conditions and far away from civilization, you never have to worry about your RV water heater unit as it is protected against shorts in the electrical system and voltage spikes as well as it has a feature protection for electronic ignition caused by excessive heat conditions.
As with any other water heater unit, the size is also very important, and the size of the water heater unit that you must have for your RV depends on how many of you are usually traveling and using hot water for doing the dishes or for showering, and even the extent of the demand. You can buy water heater models for RVs with a capacity ranging from 3 gallons up to 16 gallons.
Take Note: If you are not going to use your RV during the winter season, you must try to protect the plumbing/heating system, by either adding the antifreeze or draining the system. You must take precautions by first removing the anode rod because it might get affected by corrosive action.
A typical RV water heater and its components such as the limit switch, reset button, anode rod, drain plug, pilot lights and the ignition system are very accessible and concealed just behind the removable outer door. With a flush mount or standard protective doors, an RV water heater unit does not interfere with mobile home design as it has a compact and neat appearance as well as it has corrosion-free resistance.
Like other water heater units that are popularly used at home, RV water heaters are very much user-friendly as you can turn the power on either from the inside or outside. They are also easy to maintain, troubleshoot and repair.
RV water heater units having the electronic ignition can be activated from inside your RV and the heating process will commence even when you are driving, without you having to leave the RV. For pilot light models, it is possible to re-ignite from the inside as well.
Take Note: It is highly recommended not to use RV water heaters that are utilizing propane gas most especially while driving, because the pilot light or flame can be really affected with the incoming air.
Maintenance Tips for RV Water Heaters
Below are some common and simple maintenance tips for RV water heaters:
The drain plug for RV water heaters can be found on the bottom of the outside compartment. After every trip you take, it is best that you drain the completely. If it is troublesome for you, then at least you must drain your RV water heater during the winter time. If you do not do this, then you are risking your water heater unit to be damaged due to freezing. Moreover, ensure that you never the water heater while it is still hot or under pressure.
You must never make the mistake of lighting your RV water heater when it is empty. The tank has to be completely full of water before you can light the heater. You can actually easily tell whether the tank is full or not. First, you need to open the faucet for hot water. When you get a steady flow of water, then you will know that the hot water tank is full.
You need to also inspect the burner area and the exterior water heater vent occasionally as these areas are prone to obstructions. You have to ensure that there are no insect nests that are blocking the vent. If there are any obstructions in the vent, it can prove to be troublesome as it prevents the release of harmful gases.
Most RV owners seal their RV water heater units in order to protect them. However, you must never make the mistake of using plastic in order to seal your water heater unit. Plastic is known to trap moisture, which may potentially have the opposite effect of what you wanted. As a matter of fact, trapped moisture can easily and quickly damage RV water heater units.
By-Pass Valve Kit
When it is time to winterize your RV, you will most likely need to put at least 6 gallons of antifreeze into your RV water heater/s. You can utilize a by-pass valve kit in order to avoid having to waste a lot of antifreeze in the heater unit. These by-pass kits let the antifreeze to bypass the tanks of the RV water heaters after they are completely drained. The antifreeze will go directly into the water lines.
Mentioned above are a few common and simple maintenance tips for RV water heaters. You need to ensure that the tank is completely full prior to you lighting the heater. You also have to drain the tanks in order to prevent freezing during the winter season. If you choose to do so, you can use a by-pass kit so that you will not have to waste a lot of antifreeze filling up the RV water heater tank.
Before you go and buy a water heater unit for your RV, it is best to search the market first for what is the best one there is out there for your mobile home. Consult a professional or ask some of your friends who may also have an RV.
Tips in Finding Economical Water Heater Models
If you are looking to replace your old water heater, comparing the prices between water heaters may be a good idea as this is what most people will likely do. However, should you try to evaluate its selling price in regards to its heating capacity, installation cost and operating cost, sometimes, you may not be getting the most out of what you pay for. This is because when buying a new water heater, it is important to consider the three factors mentioned above including the manufacturer’s warranty. This will allow you to get the most economical water heater model suitable for your household’s water heating needs.
Most people who buy storage tank water heater models often tend to look at the storage capacity of the unit as the basis for its price. While the storage capacity of the tank too is important, the overall heating capacity of the unit is more important. The heating capacity can be read through the unit’s FHR or First Hour Rating, and this can be found in the unit’s specifications. The FHR shows you how much hot water it can make within a span of one hour. To help ensure that the unit you are buying meets your water heating needs, make sure to focus on its FHR and not on the size of the tank. Make sure that that the FHR of the unit exceeds the hot water usage of your household during peak usage. The FHR is very important as it reflects the heating power of the unit. In some cases, larger tank units have low FHR than some smaller tank models.
In case you are looking for tankless water heater models, then look into models with flow rates that exceed the hot water usage of your household during peak usage. Once you have sorted the models that can meet your water heating needs, then this would be the time to compare prices.
Efficiency and Operating Cost
Water heaters running on electricity are usually more efficient and relatively cheaper than gas-fired models. However, since natural gas is far cheaper than electricity and can heat water much faster, then not only do gas-fired water heaters have lower operating cost, but they also have a much faster recovery time.
High efficiency storage tank models are able to accomplish their efficiency through the use of more effective and better insulation. This not only gives them better retention of heat, but since heat also hardly escapes, they are able to heat water a bit faster than normal units. In fact, high efficiency electric water heating units have efficiency levels exceeding 95%, making it very effective and very efficient.
High efficiency gas-fired storage tank models on the other hand have efficiency levels of 63-64%. This is about 10% percent more than ordinary gas-fire storage tank models. The small increase in their efficiency does not justify their high cost. However, when you consider that these models are more durable and equipped with more advanced features along with longer warranties, then surely their higher price tag makes it a bit more reasonable. High efficiency gas water heaters are eligible for rebates, but electric models, however, are not.
Tankless water heaters are more expensive than standard tank models. However, there are gas-fired tankless models that qualify for tax credit as they are rather more efficient that high efficiency gas-fired storage tank models. This efficiency is achieved since they only heat water when it is needed. With the use of a tankless model, you do not spend money to keep the water inside the tank hot. A properly sized model can provide your household with endless amount of hot water without ever worrying about running out.
Storage tank water heaters are cheaper to install as compared to tankless units. Should you have a tank unit that needs to be replaced, it is more advisable, less hassle, and more economical to purchase a more efficient tank model that uses the same energy source as your old water heater. This is because most, if not all, of the connections will be the same. However, due to the extra insulation your new unit might have, it is important to take into consideration if the new unit will fit into the space previously occupied by your old unit. One way of checking this is by simply looking at your old water heater and its location and determining if there is enough space, or it is simply too tight. If the space is a wee bit restricted, then you should get the measurements of the new unit you are eyeing at before making a purchase.
In case you want to replace your old tank unit with a tankless unit, don’t be surprised if you are looking at a higher installation cost. This is particularly true for gas-fired tankless water heater units. This is because you will need to upgrade your gas lines from ½ inch to ¾ inch. In addition, due to the high combustion temperatures used in gas-fired tankless models, you will also be required to upgrade your flue and venting system. Before purchasing a gas-fired tankless unit, it is recommended that you first get a quote from your plumber so you can expect how much you will need to spend and that if you are willing to go through with the additional expense.
Electric tankless water heaters on the other hand will usually require a higher power which may require you to upgrade your electrical supply. This is somewhat relatively cheaper as compared to upgrading your gas and venting system.
Although you will find a lot of water heater brands in the market, you will be surprised to know that there are just a few manufacturers making them. This is because some of the competing brands are made by the same manufacturers themselves. Take for instance A.O. Smith. Their lines of water heaters are very reliable. However, they are also the ones who make water heaters for American, Kenmore, Maytag, and Whirlpool. The same goes for Rheem who makes and manufactures models for General Electric.
The prices of water heater units having the same feature, particularly ones made by the same manufacturer may often vary widely. This is not because a brand may be more prestigious than the other, but because simply because the components they may have used are fairly substandard or inferior as compared to the other.
Simple Tips on Water Heater Safety
As mentioned in the previous post, water heaters are basically household appliances that heats water for our convenience. Heated water is normally used for showers, dish washers, and clothes washers. The truth is the availability of heated water in the tap is very convenient, whether you live in cold or warm regions. However, using water heaters, specifically gas-fired types, can be very dangerous, especially if some safety measures and maintenance are ignored. Knowing the signs for water heater safety and knowing where to look can be very helpful in preventing such situations.
Combustion Chamber Hatch – checking this regularly is highly recommended. Taking the outer hatch off is not usually a big deal, but inner hatch is usually the problem, especially if it has recently been fired as the hatch can get be quite hot. On the other hand, with new heater models, you will not find an inner hatch but a small glass window that allows you to see what’s on the other side of the chamber.
When looking inside the hatch, the one thing you need to watch out for or observe is the flame. If the flame is yellow, there is likely some problem with the air intake. Yellow flame creates lots of soot which can clog up the combustion roof and vent if left unattended for prolonged periods. This makes it very dangerous as the flames may billow out at the bottom, or worst, the carbon monoxide created by the combustion will escape from the seams of the vents. This is also true if you notice the chamber to be black and full of soot. Combustion problems, drafting problems, fume problems, and fire hazards are some of the problems caused by excessive soot in the chamber. Vacuuming the dirt underneath can help to solve this problem and prevent any worst case scenarios from happening. However, if what you see on the inside chamber is blue flame or simply the gray metal of the chamber, then you have nothing to worry about.
Pedestal – all across the U.S., one of the safety codes they implement for storage tank water heaters is that they be mounted at least 18 inches off the floor. This safety measure is made to keep low lying fumes from getting ignited. In fact, this standard has been mandated several years back. This mandate also includes electric storage tank water heater units, except on vents and combustion chambers as they are not equipped with those.
Drain Valve – if you live in an area prone to natural disasters such as tornados, hurricanes, and earthquakes, there is a high chance that during one of those instances, your waterline will be cut off. If water has been cut off for a long time, it means that the water sitting in your water heater unit is left there for days. Should the water in your area be hard water, there is a high possibility that sediments will be building up in your unit which could corrode your aluminum anode rod. This makes it very important to drain to drain the water in your tank as accidentally ingesting the water can cause serious damage to your stomach, intestines, and joints. Opening the drain valve and allowing the water to drain will help to prevent this from happening.
Anode Rod – Aluminum anode rods generate gunk that is bad for the water heater unit. The worst part would be ingesting water littered with corroded aluminum. In many cases of natural disasters, it has been know that people drink water stored in the tank of their water heaters, something that could be very bad for the stomach. Substituting your aluminum anode rod with a magnesium one will help to prevent such scenarios should you require the use of your storage tank for emergency situations.
The Dangers of Gas Water Heaters
Carbon Monoxide – this is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is caused by gas appliances or combustion engines that are not properly vented. Detecting this toxic gas can be very difficult. Continuous exposure to carbon monoxide will lead to carbon monoxide poisoning with which the person exposed to such will not even know they are being poisoned. The only thing they would notice would be lightheadedness, confusion, headache, and vertigo. This is why they often refer to carbon monoxide as a silent killer.
Fire – this occur when flammable vapors collect around the water heater unit which could ignite when the unit kicks in. Combustible materials that emit vapors such as paints, cleaners, and gas cans can get ignited. Having papers, drapes, and other materials that easily catch fire will become ablaze when the vapor catches fire.
Explosion – new models of gas-fired water heaters have sealed bottoms which is why it is unlikely that gas vapors will get ablaze by the unit’s flame. On older units however, the bottom part is not sealed which can pose as a risk for explosion. Another reason why storage tank water heaters explode is due to the failure of their pressure relief valve. If this is busted or is not working properly, the pressure inside the tank will get at very high levels which may result into an explosion. Always make sure that the safety relief valve is working by checking it regularly in order to avoid such scenarios.
In order to prevent such accidents from occurring, it is important to make sure that the unit is properly vented. Try to make sure that the vents are double-walled and that the vents are using the same diameter as the vent of the unit itself. Making sure that the pressure relief valve is working properly will also help greatly. When it comes to carbon monoxide poisoning, it is best to install a carbon monoxide detector so that it will alert you should the levels become dangerous. Another important step you may want to make would be to keep the area of your water heating unit clean at all times. Make sure that there are no chemicals stored nearby as these potentially combustible and flammable materials or chemicals may get ignited resulting in a fire or explosion.
Water Heater FAQs – The Things You May Need to Know
Having your very own water heating system in your home can be great as these systems helps to eliminate the common task of having to boil water in a kettle to get some hot water which can be used for bathing or for washing the dishes. The best part about them is that since they are mostly automated, all you need to do is turn on the tap or press a switch and out comes the heated water. The truth is there are many types of water heaters, ranging from electrical to gas-fired, tankless to storage tank, point-of-use to whole-house use, and residential to commercial. This reason alone can spark a lot of water heater FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) from consumers. The list below shows some of the more common questions:
Should I go for Gas or Electric Water Heaters?
Gas-fired water heaters are more cost-efficient when it comes to operation and are also known to last longer. Electric water heaters on the other hand are cleaner to operate. Although they consume 75% more energy than gas-fired ones, many people use them as you do not need to allocate any valuable space in your home for the storage tank.
Is it Possible to get a Larger Water Heater?
Since water heaters require either gas or electric as their main source of energy, the width and the height of the unit are basically the only things you need to watch out for. As long as your space is able to accommodate the sizes of the upgrades, then everything should be fine. However, there is one thing you may want to consider when you upgrade into a considerably larger gas-fired water heater – a larger exhaust vent. Aside from lining up the old pipes towards the pipe spaces of the new water heater, there are practically no additional problems.
What Size of Water Heater do I Need?
The size of the water heater you choose will greatly depend on the number of people there are in your home and the number of bath tubs and showers, including the dishwasher and washing machine. Each location where hot water heater is needed equals one number. Adding these numbers will result in the gallon capacity needed.
4 or less = 30 Gallons
5 – 7 = 40 Gallons
8 – 9 = 50 Gallons
10 – 12 = 75 Gallons
This is the graph commonly referred to by manufacturers. However, if space is not a problem for you, it is recommended to go for the 40 gallon instead of the 30 gallon tank as they practically cost the same. The price range of the 50 gallon tank on the other hand has a considerably higher price than that of a 40 gallon tank.
Do I Need to Turn Off the Water Heater When I Go On a Vacation?
If you are leaving your home with no occupants for more than two weeks, it is recommended that you turn your water heater off. However, make sure not to turn off the water valve going to the water heater. Gas-fired water heaters can be turned off or set to vacation setting on its setting knob. Electric water heaters on the other hand can be turned off on the main switch of the electrical panel box. One of the more common problems when leaving the water heater turned off though would be the dripping of water as the heater gets cold. A hot water tank will usually be able to hold its heat for about 1 week. After that, the water will start to get cold and drip will likely occur. In order to avoid this, use the heated water stored in the tank after they have been turned off.
Will a Tankless Unit Suite my Water Heating Needs?
This greatly depends on your water heating needs. There are people who prefer tankless water heaters and there are ones who prefer storage tank heaters. If you require almost limitless amounts of heated water, then a tankless water heater will be the right one for you as it is not limited by how much volume of heated water a storage tank can store. A tankless water heater is also suitable for you if you are only planning on installing them on point-of-use basis.
Why does it take a bit of Time before Hot Water gets to My Faucet?
This factor is usually dependent on the distance the hot water needs to travel from the tank (or whole house tankless water heater) towards the faucet. If the faucet is more than 20 feet from the source, you may require some time to run the water for at least 20 seconds before heated water comes out. In the case of whole-house water heaters, aside from the distance that should be considered, you should also consider takes several seconds to a few minutes before they are able to deliver heated water at the required temperature. After this wait however, a whole-house tankless water heater will be able to provide you with continuous heated water.
How do I know when to replace my Water Heating Unit?
One of the factors that will require you to replace your water heating unit will be its age. A water heater will usually last around 10 years before you may want to consider replacing it. This is because with age will arise signs of failure such as leakage and slow output. Other indicators would include noise, calcium buildup and deposits, and total failure to heat water.
How long does a Water Heater last?
This depends on the quality of the water being used, the quality of the water heater itself, and the maintenance provided by the owners.
How much Clearance is needed for a Gas-fired Water Heater?
It is usually suggested to have at least 24 inches of service clearance in front of the unit and at least 2 inches of clearance on the back and sides of the unit.
What are Dip Tubes?
Dip tubes are basically long plastic tubes that guide the cold water entering the tank so that it runs down through the hot water so it can be placed near the heating source.
Water Heater Preventive Maintenance
A water heater may seem to look like it is a pretty simple equipment, but that does not mean that it cannot develop problems along the line. Understanding how the mechanism works, especially on knowing exactly what to do when something goes wrong, can help you prevent serious hot water heater issues.
It may seem a bit funny and weird, but many people tend to forget about their water heaters. Typically tucked away well out of sight in a storage closet or in the garage corner, water heaters normally sit noiselessly and perform their jobs without a lot of ruckus. However, forgetting about them completely can prove to be a huge mistake.
Unlike some equipments or appliances at home, when a water heater suddenly does not work properly when you use it, it does not always just stop working. In some situations, you could find yourself standing in about 40 gallons or more of scalding hot water! Worse scenarios may include the risk of fires, explosions, or the release of deadly carbon monoxide gas into your home. With all those potential problems, it seems like having a good old-fashioned cold shower sounds pretty good right about now.
Do not worry too much about the dilemmas previously mentioned above. This is just to keep you aware about the importance of keeping an eye on your water heater. An annual inspection, along with some simple, regular maintenance, is usually all you need to do to keep your water heater doing great. Knowing some water heater basics would let you understand more about them.
Water Heaters – Its Basics
Water heaters are pretty simple equipments at home, and they have changed very little in the past 50 years. Due to the advancements of technology, water heaters have been refined and are made extremely better than they used to be, with higher efficiency, longer life spans, and the addition of safety features that minimize the risk of physical injury and property damage.
Every water heater is designed to convert energy to heat, and then transfer that heat to the water. They are then connected to a cold water supply pipe and have at least a single pipe for outgoing hot water that directs the heated water to faucets and other appliances throughout the entire house.
Even if there is a wide variety of water heaters available in the market such as electric, tankless, propane and even solar-powered model units, the most commonly used in the United States is a holding tank that is fueled by natural gas.
Water Heaters – Preventive Maintenance and Safety
Below are some basic ways on how to properly maintain your water heater.
First, check its overall physical condition. Water heaters are built to have lots of rust protection internally, but they have very little rust protection externally, so it is wise to watch out for leaks. Also, check for flaking paint, staining, or corrosion on the surface of the tank. Both external and internal rust can surely result into your tank failing. Keep in mind that the exterior shell may look okay on the outside, while all along it is already consumed with rust on the inside. However, if you see and confirm that nothing looks out of the plain ordinary, then move on to the regular maintenance duties.
The two chief steps to properly maintaining your water heater are: periodically draining the tank to remove sediments; and testing the temperature and pressure release valve (T&P) to make sure that it is working appropriately.
Every time the water heater is turned on, sediments begin to form. The sediments are actually made up of calcium carbonate, a mineral present in water, which is precipitated out through heating. It typically settles to the bottom of your tank, and therefore can shorten the lifespan of your water heater; significantly reduce its efficiency; clog lines, valves, and the recirculating pump; and even provide a suitable breeding ground for anaerobic bacteria. How many times you drain your tank depends a lot on the quality of water available at where you live. Areas that have very hard water means that you need to frequently drain your tank in order to keep the sediment levels low. The frequency may range anywhere from 6 months to 1 year.
The temperature and pressure release valve (T&P) is crucial for preventing explosions resulting from overpressure, because it automatically releases water at specific critical pressure levels and prevents the tank from exploding. Be sure to test this valve from time to time to make sure that it opens and closes properly, so that it will not fail whenever you need it.
Last but not least, install a carbon monoxide alarm near your water heater. Carbon monoxide is a gas that is odorless and colorless. However, if your water heater does not seem to vent properly or starts to back draft, these fatal fumes can enter your home and endanger you and your family.
If everything is working properly, do inspect the water temperature with the use of a cooking thermometer in order to make sure that it is set to your family’s comfort level as well as to ensure everyone’s safety. If the water is too hot for the human skin, it can really cause scalding which can lead to serious injuries. On the contrary, some people tend to put their water temperature at a low setting so as to try to be economical. However, keep in mind that if the water is not hot enough, it can potentially harbor bacteria. A good intermediate setting for your water temperature is about 130 degrees.
If you have never performed any of the basic maintenance tasks stated above on your water heater before, it is a good idea to simply hire a technician to do it properly for you the first time, and then you can ask them to show you how to do it by yourself for the next time. It is actually not very complicated to do these tasks, but you must be aware that there are potential risks involved. The risks of performing maintenance tasks incorrectly are obviously great compared to a just shelling out a minimal service fee. If you truly know and understand what the problem is with your water heater and you really know how to fix it, then by all means do so. Otherwise, let the professionals do it.
Let’s face it, nothing really lasts forever. Your water heater’s lifespan typically lasts anywhere from 6 to 12 years. With regular and proper maintenance, you can actually beat those numbers, help ensure the safety of your family, and last but not least, help you save precious money in the process.
Simple Tips on Water Heater Safety
Water heaters are basically household appliances the heats the water coming out of the tap. This is done so we can have a warm shower or other things we use warm water with, such as on the dishwasher or clothes washer. More often than not, water heaters do what they do best – to heat water. However, there are times, especially if we ignore some of the water heater safety that the manufacturers have given or built into the system, a situation can get hazardous and life threatening. This makes it very important for us to know the dangers and warning signs involved with water heater safety.
Vents – if you are using gas-fired water heaters, then you’ll know exactly how important having proper venting is. First of all, the diameter of your vent should be equal to the diameter of the draft diverter of your water heating unit. Atmospherically vented water heaters should have a vent that goes up and out only. Direct vent heaters must go out a side wall. Power vent heaters on the other hand are more flexible since they are equipped with a fan that sucks and blows out the fumes.
A vent should always be double-walled whether it passes through the wall or roof. In case a vent is single-walled, each section of the vent should be crimped and shoved together, and screwed with at least three screws per section. It is important that the vents are connected and secured properly because if a section falls apart, then the silent killer carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas, will likely escape through the broken section and enter your home.
Backdrafting can also be a big issue with vents. There can be many reasons to why vents can backdraft. However, one of the most common reasons is soot buildup or a backpitched vent connector. Regardless of what’s causing the backdraft, this should be immediately corrected in order to avoid combustion or fumes from seeping into cracks and other areas of the home.
Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve – this valve is connected to the water heater and its purpose is to prevent the unit from exploding should the temperature and pressure exceed safe operating limits which they do by opening and venting. The main problem with these valves, especially for residential types is that they are prone to failure. This makes it very important for homeowners to regularly check the temperature and pressure relief valve of their water heater units in order to ensure that they are not running a ticking bomb in their home. Checking this valve is quite easy. All you need to do is pull up on the handle wherein water should freely flow out and stop as soon as you release the handle. However, if you pull the handle and it runs, drips, or does nothing, then you should have the valve replaced immediately.
The truth is most people don’t like to be bothered testing the temperature and pressure relief valve of their water heaters. However, when you are stuck with the notion that someday you might end up getting hospitalized or have a big hole in the roof to fix due to an exploding water heater tank, then it may be a good idea to do it after all. Besides, it will hardly take any of your time to do it. When a water heater explodes catastrophically due to failure, severe injuries (most likely scalding or injury to shrapnel) or death are almost apparent, not to mention the severity of damage to property.
If you are a fan of Mythbusters or have had the opportunity to watch one of their shows where they did the exploding water heater myth, you will be surprised how much energy and damage a water heater can do when it fails catastrophically.
Another important thing to remember about temperature and relief valve is to always make sure it has a drain line, usually around 6 inches to the floor, or plumbed outside. This will help to prevent anyone from getting scalded should the valve open when someone is standing next to it. In case you notice water running out of the line, it may just be a case of bad valve, or a signal that your unit is running dangerously high pressures, an issue of defective control which should not be ignored.
Earthquake Straps – if you live in an area that is prone to earthquake, your water heater unit and its vent should be properly strapped. This will help to prevent your water heating unit from falling over and severing the gas line connected to it, or prevent the vents falling or getting dislocated from how they were stacked.
Shell – the outer part of the water heater that you see is basically its shell. It is a strong sheet metal covered with insulation to help keep the heated water inside from cooling fast. If you notice that the outer shell of the unit does not look good, full of dents and all, chances are, the inside of the unit does not look great either. It would be best to just junk it instead of waiting for a catastrophe to happen.
Temperature Control – temperature controls for residential water heaters are set on warm, hot, and very hot; unlike commercial water heaters where you can set them to the degrees you want. Since there is such a big variation with these settings, especially from heater to heater, it would be a good idea to measure the temperature of your heated water from the tap. The ideal temperature would be 130°F to 140°F. You can use a kitchen thermometer to do this test.
It is important to set the temperature at not lower than 130°F as legionella bacteria, a Gram negative bacterium which causes the Legionnaire’s disease can still grow at 120°F, and not higher than 140°F as this could cause scalding, more energy use, as well as sediment buildup. This makes it ideal to have 130°F to 140°F as the range in temperature to have in your tap.