The common tank-style water heater typically lasts around a decade, but can last longer or die out more quickly. In fact, if you have maintained your hot water heater according to the manufacturer’s instructions, it may last twice as long. Nonetheless, it is not uncommon to hear of a water heater failing after just a couple of years in use. The tankless water heater is built to last for a considerably longer time. Some models of tankless water heaters come with a lifetime warranty. If you’re looking to replace your old water heater and don’t have an incredibly large demand for hot water, the tankless water heater may be your best option.
Water Heater Repairs
The water heater can fall into a state of disrepair for various reasons. Thermostats can fail to function properly or even fail completely. Sediment can form at the bottom of the water tank and cause a “popping” sound upon ignition of the burners in the unit. A fractured dip tube can mix the incoming cold water with the outgoing hot water. Thermal expansion can cause burst pipes and dangerous pressure levels. These and other water heater problems can result in excessively hot water, the loss of hot water, or damage to your plumbing system.
And while the repair of water heaters is a job that is best left to a professional plumber, a homeowner should take an active role when it comes to determining if that water heater in the home should be repaired or replaced. This is accomplished by asking the repairman about the cost of repairs versus the cost of replacement, and then weighing that figure against the estimate of how much time the current repairs that must be done are expected to last. Sometimes it is best to replace the entire heater altogether rather than keep repairing the old one, while it may be prudent for you to repair a system that has only a minor problem.
Water Heater Replacement
If you determine that replacing your hot water heater is the best idea, then you have several considerations that must be made. You will need to decide if you want to replace your water heater with a tankless water heater system or go with a traditional tank-style heater. The tankless water heater will last longer than traditional heaters, and they will provide a continuous supply of hot water that is heated as you need it. This will save you money on energy costs, as the traditional tank-style heater requires that you heat a large number of gallons of water continuously, even when there is no demand for water within the home. Tankless heaters heat water instantly on demand, which means that you’ll never run out of hot water again. Tankless heaters are sometimes cheaper than tank-style heaters, depending on the heater’s size.
You should also consider the efficiency rating of the water heater that you purchase if you go with a replacement heater. Energy efficiency is measured as a percent of heat that is used, based on using 64 gallons of hot water per day. The measurement is then expressed as the EF or energy factor. Tankless water heaters may run as efficiently as .98 or .95 while new tank-style heaters may have an EF of .63. Older heaters, obviously, may have an even lower EF. Keep in mind, however, the energy efficiency is just one measure of a water heater’s performance, and that it does not take into consideration the cost of the different fuels used or the total effect of the unit on your energy costs or the environment.
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