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Water Heater FAQ

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At General Plumbing and Rooter, we understand how important your hot water heater is to the function of your home or business. Our team is comprised of industry professionals who are capable of servicing your water heater with care and precision. Your water heater works tirelessly throughout the year to make sure you can do things like take warm showers and properly wash the dishes. We care about the efficiency of your Contra Costa County water heater and want to make sure your informed when it comes to water heater repair, replacement, and installation. Here are some points about water heaters that can assist you with the efficiency of your current water heater, how to choose the best replacement water heater, tips on maintaining your water heater, and factors that affect the quality of your water.

How do I Lower My Contra Costa County Hot Water Bills?

While water heaters are important, they also have the power to increase your Contra Costa County water heater bills. Heating water takes effort and power that we often take for granted on an everyday basis. However, there are a variety of ways you can lower your how water bills including the following:

  • Install aerators in faucets and low-flow shower heads that may reduce your hot water consumption by half as well as repair leaky faucets and shower heads. A leak of one drip per second can cost $1 per month.

  • Insulate your hot water storage tank and pipes but be careful not to cover the tank thermostat(s).

  • Lower the thermostat(s) on your water heater to 120°F. Electric water heaters often have two thermostats- one each for the upper and lower heating elements. These should be adjusted to the same level to prevent one element from doing all the work and wearing out prematurely.

  • For electric water heaters, install a timer that can automatically turn the hot water off at night and on in the morning. A simple timer can pay for itself in less than a year. Install a heat trap above the water heater. A heat trap is a simple check valve or piping arrangement that prevents “thermosyphoning”- the tendency of hot water to rise up from the tank into the pipes thereby lowering standby losses.

  • Drain a quart of water from your hot water tank every 3 months to remove sediment that prevents heat transfer and lowers the unit’s efficiency.

  • Take more showers than baths. Baths use the larger amount of hot water in an average household. You use 15 to 25 gallons of hot water for a bath and less than 10 gallons for a 5-minute shower.

Why Purchase an Energy Efficient Water Heater?

Water heating is typically the third largest energy expense in your home, after heating and cooling. In Contra Costa County, it is especially important to have an energy efficient heater. It typically accounts for about 14% of your utility bill. If your gas water heater is more than 10 years old, it probably has an efficiency no higher than 50%. An old water heater can operate for years at very low efficiency before it finally fails. One way to reduce water heating costs would be to replace your old water heater with a new, higher-efficiency model. Our team at General Plumbing and Rooter wants to make sure your home or business has the most efficient model which is why we can replace and install your existing water heater system.

What do I need to know about Water Heater Efficiency?

Our team at General Plumbing and Rooter wants to make sure that residents are informed about the importance of water heater efficiency in the Bay Area. Water heaters can experience problems at any time whether it is a new or old system which is why you should understand water heater efficiency and how it affects you. First, a water heater’s efficiency is measured by its energy factor (EF). EF is based on recovery efficiency, standby losses, and cycling losses. The higher the EF, the more efficient the water heater. Electric resistance water heaters have an EF ranging from 0.7 and 0.95; gas water heaters from 0.5 to 0.6, with a few high-efficiency models ranging around 0.8; oil water heaters from 0.7 and 0.85; and heat pump water heaters from 1.5 to 2.0.

Although many consumers make water heater purchase decisions based only on the size of the storage tank, the first-hour rating (FHR), provided on the Energy Guide label, is actually more important. The FHR is a measure of how much hot water the heater will deliver during a busy hour. The FHR is required by law to appear on the unit’s Energy Guide label. Therefore, before you buy a water heater, estimate your household’s peak-hour demand and look for a unit with an FHR in that range. It is important to recognize that a larger tank doesn’t necessarily mean a higher FHR.

What Factors Should I Consider When Buying a New Water Heater?

When choosing a new water heater, you must find one with an appropriate first-hour rating (FHR) by estimating your family’s peak-hour demand for hot water. Determine the appropriate fuel type for your water heater. If you are considering electricity, check with your local utility company for off-peak electricity rates for water heating. If available, this may be an attractive option to choose electric water heaters. Natural gas, oil and propane water heaters are less expensive to operate than electric models. If you are in a moderate climate (i.e., with relatively low heating loads), consider a Heat Pump Water Heater (HPWH), which is more efficient than a conventional electric water heater. Though a HPWH may have a high initial cost, it can save up to 50% of your water heating bill.

For safety as well as energy-efficiency reasons, when buying gas- and oil-fired water heaters, look for units with sealed combustion or power venting to avoid backdrafting of combustion gases into the home. Everything else being equal, select a water heater with the highest energy factor (EF). However, you should note that the EF of one type of heater is not comparable to another type. For example, an electric water heater with an EF of 0.9 may cost more to operate than a gas water heater with an EF of 0.7. Our team will make sure that your water heater is not installed in an unheated basement. In addition, we will try to minimize the length of piping that runs to your bathroom and kitchen.

How do I Maintain My Contra Costa County Water Heater?

At General Plumbing and Rooter, we want to make sure that your water heater last for many years and needs minimal repairs. Just like any standard appliance, your Contra Costa County water heater needs to be taken care of throughout the year. These tips will only extend the life of your water heater, but it will also cause a reduction in your water bill. They are simple and straightforward.

  • Repair leaky faucets promptly; leaky faucets waste gallons of water in a short period.

  • Insulate your electric hot-water storage tank and pipes but be careful not to cover the thermostat.

  • Insulate your gas or oil hot-water storage tank and pipes but be careful not to cover the water heater’s top, bottom, thermostat, or burner compartment; when in doubt, get professional help.

  • Install non-aerating low-flow faucets and showerheads.

  • Buy a new water heater. While it may cost more initially than a standard water heater, the energy savings will continue during the lifetime of the appliance. Although most water heaters last 10-15 years, it’s best to start shopping for a new one if yours is more than 7 years old. Doing some research before your heater fails will enable you to select one that most appropriately meets your needs.

  • Lower the thermostat on your water heater; water heaters sometimes come from the factory with high temperature settings, but a setting of 115°F provides comfortable hot water for most uses.

  • Drain a quart of water from your water tank every 3 months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater. The type of water tank you have determines the steps to take, so follow the manufacturer’s advice.

  • If you heat with electricity and live in a warm and sunny climate, consider installing a solar water heater. The solar units are environmentally friendly and can now be installed on your roof to blend with the architecture of your house.

  • Take more showers than baths. Bathing uses the most hot water in the average household. You use 15-25 gallons of hot water for a bath, but less than 10 gallons during a 5-minute shower.

What Type of Water Heater is Best for Me?

Water heaters have greatly evolved over time allowing for you to pick a heater that best meets your needs. They become more energy efficient and also helps the environment by using less water. When considering what type of water heater is best for you home or business consider the following:

Point-of-use water heaters: Point-of-use water heaters are also known as “tankless” heaters because they have no (or only a tiny) storage tank. They are relatively small units that provide hot water on demand. They use gas or electricity for fuel, and can be installed near demand points, such as under kitchen sinks. They are often more expensive than a conventional water heater but can cost less to operate since they don’t maintain a tank full of hot water when not in use. A tankless heater typically provides 1-2 gallons of hot water per minute. Before installing a tankless water heater in your home, make sure its reduced capacity will be adequate for your needs.

Solar water heaters: A solar water heater typically includes collectors mounted on the roof or in a clear area of the yard, a separate storage tank near the conventional heater in the home, connecting pipe, and a controller. Solar water heaters can reduce the annual fuel cost of supplying hot water to your home by more than half. Throughout the year, the solar system preheats the water before it reaches the conventional water heater. During the summer, it may provide all the required heat.

Desuperheaters: A desuperheater is an attachment to your air conditioner or heat pump that allows waste heat from that device to help heat domestic water. In hot climates, a desuperheater can provide most of a home’s hot water needs during the summer.

How Do I Know My Water Heater Needs Repair?

It is never fun to wake up to take a shower and be surprised by the sting of cold water. Our team aims to help you understand when your water heater is in need of repair which will save you time and money in the long run. Most of the time, Contra Costa County homeowners will wait until their water heaters are not producing any hot water to call a professional. In reality, signs like a fluctuation in hot and cold water can indicate that your hot water heater needs repair or replacement. Additionally, if your hot water heater is making unusual noises, it could be a sign that your water heater is in need of repair. Loud noises coming from your water heater can be an indication that your heater is working twice as hard to produce hot water due to buildup and calcified minerals that are within your system.

Work with the Most Trusted Water Heater Experts in Contra Costa County

Overall, there are many factors that should be considered when thinking about a new water heater in addition to actively maintaining your system throughout the year. Our team at General Plumbing and Rooter is passionate about keeping your water heated and your home and business functional throughout the year. With years of experience, our team is always ready to assist you when we arrive at your property. Contact our team of industry professionals today to speak to one of our informative and knowledgeable associates about our water heater services.

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