If you own a residential property in Durham Region, Ontario, you need to know about these water heater basics.
You might not give it much thought, but your hot water heater is one of the most important features in your home. It is a large tank designed to hold and heat water. Homeowners rely on it for comfort and convenience.
Advances in technology have resulted in more options than ever when it comes to choosing the right water heater. Budget, energy source, and household size are the main factors that drive a purchasing decision.
Lets review everything you need to know before deciding which option is right for you. We will break it down into the following sections:
There are several types of water heaters in the market. We will touch only briefly on tankless water heaters, as they will be covered in depth in a separate article.
Tankless hot water heaters are compact. They are more energy efficient, as they do not keep a tank of hot water ready and waiting. They heat water as it passes through a series of coils in the unit. They come in both electric and gas models.
A gas water heater tank works by heating water and storing it until needed. Hot water is drawn from the top of the tank and replaced with cold water at the bottom.
These have a higher up-front cost and must be vented outside. They are, however, more affordable to operate long-term. Gas water heaters also have a higher recovery rate, which is the time it takes to reheat the water after it is depleted.
Electric water heaters might be a better option for homes that do not use gas for other appliances. While they are fairly easy to maintain and install, they do cost more to run and have a slower recovery rate than gas.
Storage tank water heaters are the most common type. These units have an insulated tank where water is heated and stored until it is needed.
Even though hybrid water heaters are significantly more efficient than their counterparts, they require a substantial amount of space and have a high up-front cost. With more moving parts, maintenance can be more complicated. The filter requires regular cleaning, and a drain is required to handle condensation. Hybrid water heaters are ideal for warmer climates or climate-controlled rooms, as they are sensitive to extreme temperatures.
The best way to compare efficiencies of water heaters is by their respective energy factors (EF). This number evaluates how effective a water heater is at producing hot water. It measures how much fuel or electricity is required to heat water. Higher efficiency heaters will have higher EF numbers.
Electric water heaters win from an efficiency perspective. Conventional gas water heaters typically have EF numbers ranging from 0.5 to 0.7, while electric water heaters can have EF numbers higher than 0.9. Generally speaking, most of the energy loss from gas water heaters occurs during the venting process, which is nonexistent in an electric water heater.
Depending on what model and manufacturer you choose, warranties can vary. On average, water heaters generally come with a warranty period of three to twelve years. This number varies based on the location and design of the unit, the quality of installation, maintenance schedule and water quality.
There are many elements to consider when thinking about replacing a tank. Some include gas supply, cold water supply, flue connection to expel combustion byproducts, proper drainage, safe water heater pressure, municipal gas permit and required inspections. Below is a checklist to get you started:
Gas water heaters use propane or natural gas to heat the water. Electric water heaters are plugged into a home’s power supply. If other appliances in your home already use propane or natural gas, it might make sense to buy a gas water heater.
Otherwise, electric is a better option, as it can be expensive to install gas utilities for a water heater. Researching which utility is the most affordable in your area is helpful, as well.
Hot water heaters come in different sizes and are rated to supply a certain amount of gallons per hour (GPH). Most manufacturers provide guidelines for their units. A family of four typically requires a 50-gallon unit or larger.
Also look at the first-hour rating (FHR), which tells you how much water the unit will heat in a set amount of time. Natural Resources Canada offers a water heater size guide as a reference tool.
Look at the capacity and space of your hot water tank
This chart is for determining the appropriate water heater capacity in response to individual family requirements. Individual use may vary. Sizing is based on 3 gallons per minute (GPM) shower head and standard bathtub. Accommodations for larger capacity and higher recovery water heaters should be made for high demand conditions.
Traditional and hybrid hot water heaters take much more space versus tankless styles. Determine the height and width your preferred water heater will require, to ensure adequate space is available for installation.
If you have ever purchased a new home, you have likely entered into a hot water tank rental agreement through the builder. Many people wonder if it makes sense to buy the contract out versus paying a monthly fee. Below are some things to think about before making a decision.
John Wood (AO Smith) - John Wood makes residential and commercial water heaters, boilers, and storage tanks that are sold exclusively by plumbing wholesalers and plumbing contractors. It manufactures tankless, hybrid, solar, and high-efficiency tank water heaters.
Kenmore - owned by Sears and available on Amazon, offers gas and electric water tank heaters. They feature their patented RotoSwirl technology, which protects their tank water heaters against lime build-up and helps the products have a longer service life.
Kenmore products are affordable, but lower efficiency models are often reflective of the price. The money saved upfront can cost you more in the long run.
Rheem and Ruud - Rheem manufactures and markets gas and electric water heaters. Rheem makes residential water heaters in tank, tankless, and point-of-use configurations and units that work with solar water-heater systems. Rheem water heaters are available in multiple sizes and with multiple warranties. Energy-efficiency claims vary by size. Rheem tankless water heaters are available at Home Depot. Its tank water heaters are available online and through a network of dealers.
Whirlpool - Whirlpool manufactures and markets gas and electric water heaters. Whirlpool tank water heaters are available in multiple sizes, and standard and power vent configurations. Whirlpool water heaters are available at Lowe’s.
Ecotemp - Recognized as the #1 seller of portable tankless water heaters in the world, Eccotemp can be found at over 2,000 major and independent retailers throughout North America, Europe, and Australia. Most notable retailers are Amazon, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Camping World, and more.
While you might not ever run into an issue with your hot water heater, if you do notice any of the following, it could indicate a problem:
Follow these simple maintenance procedures every six months to a year, to keep your water heater operating safely and efficiently for years:
It is advisable to call a licensed plumber if you are experiencing any issues, or need to remove or install a hot water tank. Without proper experience or knowledge, tampering with a DIY hot water heater project could result in injury, flood, fire or explosion.
Having a professional install your water heater gives you and your family peace of mind.
By now you should have a general sense of types of water heaters, pros and cons, buying considerations, and issues to look out for. You should also have a better understanding of the importance of hiring a licensed professional to remove or install your hot water tank.
If you are in the market for a new hot water tank and would like the guidance of an experienced and licensed plumber, contact at or visit today.