The Importance of a Water Heater

If you’ve ever been left with a cold shower, you understand the importance of a reliable water heater. You should know your family’s peak demand, such as what time of day two people shower back-to-back, or someone runs the dishwasher.

Water Heater

Also, consider any potential future changes, such as an expanded kitchen or more frequent guests. This will help you choose the correct size water heater. Read on Hot Water Now for more information.

A water heater is a household appliance that keeps hot water ready for use, and it can work with electricity, propane gas, natural gas, fuel oil or solar energy. Whether you are replacing an old model or installing one in your home for the first time, there are many styles to choose from. Choosing the right style depends on your family’s hot water needs and your home’s energy consumption.

Conventional tank-type water heaters have a large insulated tank that holds gallons of hot water until it is needed. Cold water enters the bottom of the tank and is heated by a gas flame below the tank or electric heating elements suspended inside the tank. An adjustable thermostat regulates the water temperature, and a pressure-relief valve prevents an excessive buildup of steam and water pressure.

Water exits the tank through a dip tube located near the top. This water supplies the hot-water taps in your home. When the dip tube is turned on, a switch opens and closes a circuit breaker connected to the tank’s electrical system. An anode rod is also present in most tanks; this is a sacrificial rod that attracts corrosion to itself instead of the tank’s steel lining. The anode rod is generally made of aluminum, magnesium or zinc and may require replacement on a regular basis.

Tank-type water heaters with digital displays can monitor the water temperature and provide alerts when it is time to change the anode rod. These models can also be programmed to shut off during a power outage or after a certain amount of hot water is used.

When you are choosing a new water heater, it is important to consider how many gallons per hour your family uses during the peak hours for showers, laundry and dishwashers. The higher the peak usage, the larger your water heater should be. Replacing a water heater that is too small for your household can cause running out of hot water during peak usage times. It’s a good idea to consult an expert when you are selecting a new water heater for your home.


Although water heaters look like complex pieces of machinery, they actually work pretty simply. In fact, your home’s water heater is one of the most basic and essential appliances in your house. While there are many different types of water heaters, most have the same general features.

A gas or electric water heater has a tank and a heating mechanism on the side or bottom of the appliance. An electric water heater also has a thermostat that controls the temperature of the hot water. If you’re interested in installing a new water heater, the first thing to do is consult your manufacturer for installation and maintenance instructions. Then, contact a professional plumber to ensure that the job is done properly. Most companies will obtain a permit, if necessary, and understand local water heater installation codes.

The cold water from your home’s municipal supply or well enters the tank through the dip tube, which is near the top of the tank. The water is then heated in the heating mechanism until it reaches the set temperature on the thermostat. The hot water is then piped out of the tank through the heat-out port, which is located on the top of the heater. The pressure relief valve keeps a constant pressure in the tank while this is happening, to protect the tank from an explosion.

Once the hot water is ready, it is pumped through your home’s pipes to whatever appliance needs it. This is usually your shower, but could also be your dishwasher or washing machine. To reduce energy use, you can install low flow showerheads and a recirculating pump to minimize how long the water stays in your pipes.

If your home has an older, larger tank water heater that is not operating at maximum efficiency, you can make the most of its capacity by limiting the length of showers and scheduling water-intensive chores, like laundry and dishwashing, at different times of day. You can also install energy-efficient low flow faucets and showerheads to further limit the amount of hot water you consume each day.


Water heaters need regular maintenance to keep them working well. This routine work typically includes flushing, inspecting and changing the anode rod (if necessary), checking the T&P valve and testing the thermostat and valves. It also involves removing sediment from the tank, which improves energy efficiency and reduces rust, leaks and scaling. This work helps to prevent the loss of water and avoid costly repair bills, and it can help to prolong the life of the unit.

A water heater that isn’t flushed regularly will eventually suffer from a buildup of scale or calc, which inhibits the heating elements from warming up the water to a proper temperature. This is because the calcite and sand in the scale acts as an insulator and only transfers very little heat to the hot water. This inefficient use of electrical energy results in higher electricity bills and can cause the heating element(s) to overheat and fail.

Performing a monthly visual inspection of a water heater is one of the easiest and most important steps in maintaining a water heater. It can catch a variety of issues early, such as loose screws and bolts, pooled water under the tank, or rust or corrosion. It can also catch problems such as a faulty pressure relief valve, which could explode under high pressure and cause a destructive flood.

The pressure relief valve is located on the side or top of a tank and allows water to drain out of it if the pressure rises too high. Mineral salt, rust, and corrosion can block this valve from operating properly, which puts the water heater at risk of exploding under excessive pressure.

To check the pressure relief valve, shut off the power and gas to the water heater. Next, connect a garden hose to the water heater drain valve and open it. Let about five to ten gallons of water drain out and into a bucket, then close the drain valve, shut off the cold water supply, and disconnect the anode rod from its hex head attachment. If it’s corroded or has several inches of exposed core wire, remove it and replace it with a new anode rod made from magnesium, aluminum, or zinc.


Even if you are careful about routine maintenance, there will come a time when your water heater needs repairs. It’s best to call a plumber for this task, since it can be dangerous and they will usually have the right tools and equipment.

One of the most common signs that your water heater needs repair is a lack of hot water. This happens when sediment and scale build up at the bottom of the tank. This displaces the heating element and prevents it from warming the water. The plumber will need to drain and flush the water heater to resolve this issue.

Another sign of a failing water heater is leaking. Leaks can be caused by loose inlet or outlet pipes, or they can be due to corrosion on the inside of the tank. If you notice puddles or dampness around the tank, call a plumber immediately to inspect it and determine whether a replacement is necessary.

If the water coming out of your water heater is rust-colored, this is likely due to serious corrosion on the walls of the tank itself. This is another reason it is so important to have your water heater professionally drained on a regular basis.

If you have a gas-powered water heater, it is essential to be very cautious when performing a repair on your own. There are real dangers involved with tampering with the thermocouple or gas control valve. The water heater technician will have the proper safety gear to prevent any accidental gas leaks.

If your water heater is nearing its 15 year anniversary, it may be a good idea to consider replacing it. This will save you money on energy bills and reduce the risk of costly repairs or damage to your home. A new water heater will also have a longer warranty than your old one, making the purchase a sound investment. The plumbing professionals have the expertise and experience to help you find the perfect water heater for your home. Call us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation and quote.