There are several types of water heating solutions in todays homes. Multiply that by the many manufactuers.
It is important to know what type of system your home utilizes, where it is located and how to turn it off or maintain the equipment.
Manufacturers do not have an awesome warranty on water heaters. This is because of the lack of maintenance most water heaters receive and the quality of water that the system heats. Don’t let this scare you. The first thing you should do is find out where the main water supply is and keep a “water key” handy in case of emergencies. The main water supply is usually located near the base of a driveway and says “water” on it. (Pictures below)
If your water heater tank ruptures, then you need to shut off the water immediately. The water will continue to flow causing more damage and increasing your water bill.
Maintenance on water heaters is often forgotten. Silt and sediment builds up over time at the bottom of tanks. The tanks should be drained and the sediment purged yearly. There are DIY resources online that may help with a water heater purge. If you are not a “handy” this is a service Airforce Heating and Cooling offers, but is time consuming and therefore may be a bit costly. If you are unsure of whether you can tackle this obstacle, then please give us a call. Depending on the age of your unit, it is sometimes advantageous to replace.
As for the types of water heating equipment, they generally work the same.
The standard water heater comes in two flavors: electric and fuel-fired. In the latter, the fuel most commonly used is gas, either natural or propane, but oil-fired heaters are popular in many areas. Fuel-fired units have a vent pipe at the top to carry away exhaust gases. Electric models, on the other hand, simply have a power cable that connects the heater to your electric service panel.
The job of the tank-type heater is not only to heat the water, but to store it until it’s ready to use. Therefore, in addition to the tank’s heating system, every tank is equipped with insulation to help keep the water warm between heating cycles.
On top of every tank you’ll find the water supply and delivery pipes. The supply pipe routes cold water to the bottom of the tank through the dip tube. The hot-water delivery pipe takes water from the top. For safety, all water heaters are equipped with a T&P valve (temperature-and-pressure relief valve). This valve opens if either the temperature or pressure of the water exceeds a safe limit. The valve is connected to a pipe that runs down the outside of the tank, ending about 6 in. from the floor. It’s a good idea to keep a bucket under the end of the pipe to catch water if the valve opens. The T&P valve should not be connected to a drain. If the valve did open, a sign that a problem exists, you might never know that it had opened.
Most tanks are made of steel, which is glass-lined on the inside to help prevent corrosion. In fact, corrosion is the primary reason that tanks fail. Once rust produces a hole, there are temporary fixes, but the tank should be replaced. All tanks also have an anode rod to control corrosion. The magnesium anode rod protects the tank by corroding in place of the steel. Because the rod is designed to corrode, it will eventually wear away. After this happens, corrosion of the steel accelerates. It’s a good idea to check the anode rod once a year, and replace it if necessary. At the bottom of every tank is a drain cock to empty the heater, and a valve on the supply pipe allows you to shut down the hot-water plumbing without affecting the cold-water supply to the house.
Then there is a tank-less type of water heater which is gaining in popularity for its efficiency, compact design and the fact you never run out of hot water. Tankless hot water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. Either a gas burner or an electric element heats the water. As a result, tankless water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water. You don’t need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water. There are several brands who manufacturer tankless heaters. We can not comment on electric tankless heaters because we have not installed or know anyone who has yet to install one.
It is important to consult your Contractor to determine your water heating needs.