Exeptional Plumbing Services Since 1985
water heater

FAQ: Water Heater Edition

Your water heater plays a big role in the comfort of your home, but you might not think much about it or how it works until something goes wrong. Here we answer your top water heater questions.

1. How do I know if I need a new water heater?

Water heaters are a major expense, and you probably don’t want to make that investment if yours still has some life left in it. Signs that you might need a new water heater include:

  • Banging or rumbling when the tank is in use

  • Red or yellow-tinted hot water

  • A drop in water temperature or hot water that doesn’t last as long as it did

  • Water that pools around the water tank

2. My water heater is noisy. Does that mean I need a new one?

You might need a new one, or your water heater might just need maintenance. Thermal expansion can cause occasional noises when sediment settles at the bottom of your tank, making it harder for the heat to disperse. The bad news is that this could shorten the life of your water heater by forcing it to work harder than it should. The good news is that proper maintenance will quiet your unit and may lengthen its lifespan.

3. I have no hot water. Do I need a new water heater?

You might. First, check the breaker, and reset the water heater unit. If you have a gas water heater, check the pilot light and relight it if it has gone out. If you need help with these jobs or your water heater still isn’t working, give us a call.

4. My water heater seems to be leaking. What do I do?

Your first job is to find the source of the water. It might be coming from a damaged valve or leaky gasket, which can be fixed. However, if the water seems to be coming from the bottom of the tank, the liner of the tank could be damaged. This is not something that can be repaired. A slow leak will get worse over time and can lead to catastrophic damage. The water heater will need to be replaced.

5. What do I need to know before I buy a new water heater?

Here are considerations before springing for a new water heater.

Gas or electric: Water heaters are available in both gas and electric versions. You’ll probably want one that uses the same fuel source as your current water heater so that you don’t have to run a new gas line or electrical outlet.

Storage capacity: You will also need to ensure the storage capacity of the new water heater will be sufficient to meet your home’s needs. Most water heater tanks range from 30 to 80 gallons. If you have a larger family, you will probably prefer a larger water heater or tankless heater.

Tankless: Tankless water heaters heat water on demand for an endless supply of hot water. While the initial cost is higher, they use less energy than conventional water heaters and take up less space.

6. What’s the best maintenance routine for my water heater?

To keep your water heater operating at its peak and ensure a long life, you’ll need to perform periodic maintenance. Here’s how:

  • Drain about a quarter of the tank at least once a year to flush rust-causing sediment and debris out.

  • Turn off the cold water supply, hook a hose to the drain valve and run the water into a bucket until it’s clear.

  • Make sure to leave at least two feet of clearance around the water heater at all times, and set the thermostat to 120° Fahrenheit. That’s the optimal temperature. But if you can stand slightly cooler water, you can save up to 5 percent on your energy costs for every 10 degrees you lower your temperature.

7. How long will my water heater last?

A traditional water heater will last from eight to 12 years on average. Tank-style water heaters have a protective interior lining protected by an anode rod, which attracts corrosive particles in the water. Once the rod begins to corrode, it will break down, and the corrosive particles begin to settle, which damages the lining of the tank, and the tank will need to be replaced.

Tankless water heaters do not have tanks, so they last longer than tank-style water heaters. However, corrosion is still their primary enemy and can develop in about 20 years or so.

Your water heater’s lifespan can be maximized by good maintenance, but some external factors can shorten its lifespan, including hard water and installation in a crawl space or garage.

Call us today at (310) 982-2374 to learn more about getting more out of your water heater or to schedule a service call.