The 5 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Water Heaters

Different water heater models can be broken down into categories based on fuel source, i.e. whether they run on gas or electricity. However, in terms of functionality, there are two main types of water heaters currently available on the market: standard tank water heaters and tankless systems. Standard water heaters use a heating element to reheat your water in a large tank every time you turn the tap on. Tankless systems, on the other hand, heat water as it moves through your pipes.

Both traditional and tankless water heaters have distinct advantages. Tank water heaters are far less expensive to install, so from an upfront cost standpoint, they are a better choice than tankless water heaters. However, while tankless systems are more expensive to install and repair than traditional models, they are also more energy-efficient, as they do not use energy reheating your water heater over and over again in a tank. That means using a tankless water heater could end up saving you a lot on utility bills in the long run. Traditionally, tank water heaters have been a better choice for people who live in large houses, where multiple taps may need to run at once. However, thanks to recent advancements, tankless systems are increasingly capable of covering large homes, too. And of course, if a tankless water heater works correctly, it presents the distinct advantage of being able to deliver a continuous supply of hot water on-demand.

As mentioned above, traditional water heaters have long been considered the better choice for large homes. However, not all tank water heaters come in the same shape and size. If you have a large family – say four people or more – you will want to install a water heater with a tank that can hold between 50 and 80 gallons of water at a time. On the other hand, if you live in a small home, with only one other person, you will probably be better suited to a unit that holds 23-36 gallons. If you’re looking to install a tankless water heater, conversely, the size of the unit is less important than the system’s flow rate (another advantage of tankless water heaters is that they are always fairly small, and therefore relatively easy to access.) A tankless heater’s flow rate is measured in gallons per minute, or GPM. The bigger your home is, the higher GPM your tankless system will need to have.

As a general rule of thumb, you should upgrade to a new tank water heater every 10-15 years, and a new tankless system every 20 years. If you do not know how old your current water heater is, you can usually figure it out by looking at the serial number, located somewhere on the unit. Other signs that it may be time to install a new water heater include strange noises or smells coming from your system or appearing in your water, uneven water temperature or flow, and increasing energy bills.

Traditional tank water heaters wear down faster due to sediment build-up in the tank. This is why it is a good idea to flush out your water heater tank about once a year. You can also help mitigate the effects of hard, minerally water by checking and replacing your anode rod (the component that reduces sediment and bacteria in your tank) as necessary, and potentially installing a water treatment system, to reduce rust and build-up in your water supply. Other than that, the best way to increase your water heater’s lifespan is simply to call a professional for repairs and maintenance. Fortunately, at Smith’s Plumbing Services, our technicians know how to handle a full range of tank and tankless water heater models, so you never have to worry about hot water problems in your home again!

General HVAC

Your HVAC systems should be serviced before the start of each heating and cooling season. So, your air conditioner should have regular maintenance performed at the end of winter or beginning of spring, while your heat pump or furnace should have its regular maintenance performed at the end of summer or beginning of fall.

Your air filters should be replaced every one to three months depending on usage. This is vitally important to the performance of your HVAC systems and your indoor air quality.

The short answer? So important! Your indoor air quality can be as much as 100 times worse than the outdoor air. That means pollutants, allergens, dust, and mildew can be circulating in your home affecting your family’s health and wellbeing. Improving and maintaining your indoor air quality is vitally important to your home and family.

Did you know that when the summer heat beats down on your roof the attic can reach up to 150 degrees? Having attic ventilation can help control moisture, keep cooling costs down, and prevent the accumulation of mold and mildew.

Installing a programmable thermostat in your home helps you take control of how much energy you use for heating and cooling. If used effectively, a programmable thermostat can help you improve energy efficiency and save money on your utility bills.

A ductless mini-split system is an alternative to traditional heating and cooling like central air. Ductless HVAC works similarly to central heating and cooling, except that it doesn’t require ductwork. Your mini-split system will have an indoor and outdoor unit, but it will only require a small hole to be cut through the exterior wall—just big enough for a tube of refrigerant to pass through. Inside your home, the air will be conditioned and returned into the room by the same unit.

Many people use ductless mini-split systems for cooling, but we usually recommend installing heat pump systems, so they can be used for both heating and cooling. This can help improve your overall energy-efficiency! A ductless heat pump is an efficient zonal heating and cooling system that doesn’t require ducts. It comprises just an outdoor compressor unit and one or more indoor air handling units, linked by a refrigerant line.

Zoned HVAC allows for better comfort control, decreased energy bills, and higher energy efficiency (energy waste is reduced because your HVAC equipment won’t have to work as hard to regulate the temperature throughout the house).

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