FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How long should my water heater last?

On average, most water heaters last from 10-15 years. Flushing your tank, replacing the anode rod periodically, and lowering your thermostat will all help to make your tank last longer. Just lowering the temperature will not only save energy, but also help protect the tank, as each time water is heated, the tank expands and contracts which compromises the integrity of both the metal and its glass lining. Also, with higher water temperature, scale-forming minerals are more easily released into your tank.


What are those rumbling noises in my tank?

As hundreds of gallons of water pass through your heater each month, minerals in hard water are released naturally each time your tank re-heats. Over time, these deposits form scale which collects on the bottom of, and throughout the tanks glass lining. In gas water heaters, as the burner works through scale deposits when reheating, tiny air pockets develop below the build up and as trapped air is released, a popping or rumbling sound occurs. In electric water heaters, scale on the elements results in hissing sounds when they are activated. Flushing your tank periodically will help to eliminate scale deposits and increase your tanks efficiency.


What is an anode rod?

Anode rods are metal rods made up of aluminum or magnesium, which are screwed into the top of the water heater, and designed to corrode or decompose in order to protect the tank. Aluminum and magnesium are both metals that are less noble than steel, which means they will corrode easier. Eventually, anode rods corrode completely, but since they are screwed into the top of tank, they can be replaced. Hot side outlet and powered rods are a few of the different types available, and it is important you choose the right one based on your situation. (Click here for anode rod pricing )


Why do I have to wait several minutes for hot water to arrive at a particular shower or fixture (usually in the morning)?

When you turn on a hot side faucet, water that has been sitting in the pipes between the water heater and fixture cools down. That water then needs to be pushed out of the pipes before the hot water from the tank reaches your shower. Homes waste several gallons of water each day waiting for hot water to "arrive". The solution? A recirculating pump pulls (or pushes) hot water to the fixture that is furthest away from the water heater back into the cold line or water heater. In doing so, it primes each faucet/fixture in between, thus giving you instant hot water with virtually no wasted water. Saving water equals saving money! (Click here for recirculation pump pricing)


Should I replace my storage tank with a tankless water heater?

Tankless water heaters are very energy efficient, and can supply endless hot water, but they can also be very expensive to install and maintain. We often ask customers what they are trying to accomplish with a tankless water heater. Read the pros and cons below, and do plenty of research as tankless technology is quickly evolving.


Tankless water heater pros and cons:

Pros-

1. Save energy

2. Space saving- can be mounted on wall inside or outside

3. Supply endless hot water

4. Copper or stainless steel heat exchanger (20 year warranty)

5. Tax or local utility credits may be available


Cons-

1. High initial installation cost (upgrade gas line, add outlet, new vent system, etc..)

2. Annual flushing may be required (if no softener or filter)

3. Minimum flow rate to turn on

4. Limited capacity (may require 2 units)

5. Sophisticated electronics require trained techs for service/repairs (for more info click here)


Will a water softener help my tank last longer?

In our experience, water softening is actually one of the more common causes of premature tank failure.


Softeners reduce scale through a process known as ion exchange, where harder molecules like calcium and magnesium are traded for softer (more water soluble) sodium molecules. Most water heaters are glass lined steel tanks that are susceptible to rusting due to tiny imperfections within its glass lining. Rusting (oxidation) occurs when water touches metal. By adding sodium to your water, its conductivity is increased, and since oxidation is an electrochemical process where degrading metal means electrons are flowing from one part to another (anode rod to the steel tank), more conductive water means those electrons can flow more easily, hence, the oxidation process (rusting) is accelerated.


Once the anode rod has depleted/corroded, your tank will then begin to rust out quicker. With that said, we are not opposed to water softeners, as they do reduce scale and work well with tankless units (copper and stainless steel heat exchangers much more corrosion resistant), but it is important to know the facts if you have one.


What is the solution to extending tank life if you have a softener?

Along with periodically checking your water pressure and flushing your tank, replacing the anode rod every 2-3 years or adding a 2nd or powered anode rod, can increase your tanks lifespan. (Click here for anode rod pricing)


Why do I need to have a permit when I replace my water heater?

A permit ensures your new water heater has been safely installed to current building codes. Non-code compliant water heaters can be dangerous and cause ample damage when they leak. A city building inspector actually comes to your property to perform the inspection. The bad news is that the permit costs money. The good news is that we will pull the permit for you at no additional cost. You will only need to schedule an appointment with an inspector when the permit arrives in the mail. (Click here for permit pricing in your city)


What is thermal expansion?

When water is heated, it expands in volume. Water does not compress, so this added volume also builds up pressure. In most homes, let's say after a shower, when the heater is recovering, the resulting pressure from the expanding water is dissipated back into the main water supply. These are known as "open" systems. Other homes, however, may have a backflow preventer or pressure regulator that does not have a by-pass built in, which results in a "closed" system. When reheating after a shower in a "closed" system, the resulting pressure has nowhere to go and slowly begins to increase within your plumbing system. If and when it reaches 150 psi, the T&P valve on your tank will sense it, and discharge. If your T&P valve discharges periodically, you most likely have a "closed" system. THE SOLUTION: An expansion tank contains a chamber of air which is a compresses acting as a cushion, neutralizing any expanding water pressure during recovery. Expansion tanks also help curb banging within your pipes, aka water hammer. (Click here for expansion tank pricing)


What does a pressure regulator have to do with my water heater?

The majority of homes have a regulator, installed inline of their main water supply. This installation simply reduces high incoming water pressure (over 80 psi) to an acceptable level (under 80 psi). This results in saving water by reducing the flow rate, and also reduces stress within your entire plumbing system. Over time, the regulator will fatigue and water pressure will increase. The T&P valve on your water heater will discharge if/when it exceeds 150 psi. Older homes may not have a regulator and water pressure can fluctuate. If you do not have a regulator, installing one will save money on your water bill. (Click here for pressure regulator pricing)


What is the energy factor of a water heater?

Three things determine the energy factor:

1. How efficiently heat is transferred from the energy source to the water
2. Stand by loss
3. Cycling losses.


Basically, the higher the energy factor, the more energy efficient the water heater will be. Water heaters with the energy star label generally save up to 8% or more energy per year than those without it. Over the life a heater, that can add up to a substantial savings.


How can I tell how old my water heater is?

Most all water heaters have what is called a rating plate. It is usually found in the center of the bottom or top 3rd of the tank. Unlike the energy guide, which is on a larger yellow sticker off to the side, it is usually white in appearance with small black type. Look for the serial number. The first 2 or 4 numbers shown indicate the year and month of manufacture. FOR EXAMPLE: Serial numbers that read gl02-109558 were made in the year 2002. Serial numbers gelp 1004v186142 were made in the 10th month 2004.


Bradford white uses a lettering system-

A = 2004,

B = 2005,

C = 2006, etc.

Z = 2003,

Y = 2002,

X = 2001, etc.