Your water heating system may be out of view, but it’s an essential part of maintaining a comfortable home. From enjoying hot showers in the morning to washing your dishes after dinner, your water heater plays an important role in your family’s daily routine. When it’s time to buy a new water heater, seeking the advice of a professional plumbing expert can help make the choice simple. Take it from the Coop, there are things you should consider when selecting a water heater. Let’s take a deep dive into the basics to help you make that important decision.

Types of Water Heaters

Your water heater should provide a steady supply of hot water throughout your home, and a plumber can help you make the best choice for your needs. The two most common types of water heaters include:

  • Storage tank water heater: Conventional storage water heaters are crafted with an insulated reservoir that holds a continuous supply of water and keeps it warm. Because it’s sitting in the tank waiting to be used, hot water is readily available whenever you turn on the tap.
  • On-demand water heater: Hung up on a wall, this compact water heater operates tank-free, and water is heated on an as-needed basis. A tankless system is highly efficient because it doesn’t need a constant source of fuel to maintain a heated, big tank full of water.

Modern water heaters are powered using a number of energy sources. The typical residential water heater operates using the following:

  • Electricity
  • Natural gas
  • Propane

The fuel source of your water heater will likely be the same as what you use to heat your home. A gas water heater, for example, would be the model of choice if you have natural gas heat.

Estimating Water Heater Size

When I discuss water heaters with customers, one of the biggest things I want to ensure is that it will provide enough hot water to go around. The demand for hot water determines the capacity of the appliance. For example, a family of two will likely need a smaller tank than a family of six. As part of the process, I typically ask customers:

  • How many people live in your house?
  • What’s your average daily hot water usage?
  • How many appliances do you have that use hot water?

If we’re installing a storage water heater, the first-hour rating is a helpful specification we consider. Calculated based on the type of heat source, size of the heat source, and tank capacity, this value indicates the number of gallons of hot water the heater can supply per hour. If we’re installing a tankless system, capacity is typically determined by flow rate and temperature rise values.

How Long Will My Water Heater Last?

This is a frequent question I hear from customers. If your water heater already has a few years on it, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need to replace it soon. It should be fine as long as it’s still delivering hot water, isn’t making noises or leaking. The life expectancy of a water heater depends on several factors:

  • Model type and quality
  • How well the unit has been maintained
  • Water quality (hardness or softness)

Most storage water heaters last between eight and 12 years. The anode rod inside your tank protects the interior by attracting corrosive particles. Once that rod has worn, those particles settle to the bottom and eventually damage the lining. When I see this stage of wear, I know the water heater is on borrowed time. Eventually, your tankless water heater will also corrode but usually not as soon as storage models. Many tankless systems can last up to 20 years, or even longer, but they do cost more.

One thing I recommend homeowners do to preserve the lifespan of their water heater – and overall plumbing system – is to schedule preventative maintenance. Regular home plumbing inspections help ensure your drains are clear and your water heater is functioning as it should.

Partner with Cooper Mechanical

Let us be your guide – we can help make selecting a water heater simple. Serving clients across Doylestown and upper to mid-Bucks County, Ottsville, and surrounding areas, our seasoned plumbing professionals specialize in water heater repair and installation. For more information or to schedule an appointment, reach out to Cooper Mechanical today.