Water Heater Maintenance, Repairs, Replacement and Upgrades and Hot Water Recirculation Pumps
Everyone has at least one water heater in their home. They provide an important service for the home, unless you really enjoy cold showers, which most people don’t. Even though they supply a great service, they are largely ignored until they quit working, then, it becomes an emergency type situation.
Water heaters are like any other piece of equipment. They need regular maintenance to ensure they are working at peak performance and to extend their life expectancy.
One of the major causes of water heater problems is the buildup of minerals in the heater’s tank. These deposits are left behind when water is heated. As these deposits build up, the water heater has to work harder to heat water, and deposits take up room in the tank, so there is less water to be heated. The result is loss of efficiency and eventual failure of the water heater.
It is recommended, on an annual basis, that water heaters be drained and flushed, to keep mineral buildup at a minimum. If this doesn’t sound like fun, and it isn’t, let us do it for you. At the same time, we also check the temperature and pressure relief valve, shut off valve and drain valve for proper operation, and check for water leaks at your water heater location.
Another item that directly effects the life expectancy of your water heater is the anode rod. Anode rods are an aluminum, magnesium or zinc tube inside a water heater. These rods are much more susceptible to corrosion than the other steel parts inside the water heater. In simple terms, the anode rod is a sacrificial element that corrodes, saving the other steel parts. Once the anode rod has completely corroded, it will no longer protect the water heater and will need to be replaced. Part of our normal water heater flush is to take note of the anode rod’s condition and replace as necessary.
If your water heater quits working, do not automatically assume you need a new one. When a gas water heater quits working, it may be caused by a bad thermal coupling or a defective gas regulator. Failure of an electric water heater could be caused by burned out heating elements. Any of these repairs are relatively inexpensive when compared to the price of a new water heater.
Sometimes, if the water heater is an older model, or is already in very poor condition, making repairs may only be a very temporary solution. It may be better use of your dollars to replace it rather than repair it and worry about how long it will last.
Another consideration for replacement verses repair is the efficiency of the new generation of water heaters.
New models have greatly improved gas burner units and electric heating elements, making them considerably more efficient. The tanks are also better insulated so they retain heat longer, making them more economical to operate.
Let us check your water heater to determine the cause of the problem. We can then discuss your options with you so you can make an informed decision about repairs or replacements.
Have you had a pressure reducing valve installed on your water supply because of excessively high water pressure? Have you had a backflow preventer installed, or has your municipal water company installed one on your home water main? If you said “yes” to any of these questions, you have a “closed water system” and now need an expansion tank installed at your water heater. A closed water system allows water to enter your home, but does not allow water from your home to flow backwards, to reenter and possibly contaminate the public water supply. Water heater expansion tanks are required by building codes for closed water systems.
Considering the possibility of contamination, closed systems are good, however, there is a down side. A closed system does not allow for water expansion caused by thermal expansion when water is heated by the water heater. Thermal expansion causes fluctuation in water pressure within the home water supply system, and can cause problems for water heaters, water piping and fixtures in the home.
For a more detailed discussion of water heater expansion tanks, please see “Water Heater Expansion Tanks” on this website.
Does it takes a long time to get hot water at your faucet or in your shower? If you answered yes, it may not be a problem with your water heater. It may be the way your house was plumbed when it was built. Many newer homes are plumbed with a hot water recirculation loop. Basically this is a loop that allows hot water to be circulated through the hot water system, keeping it warm at all times. By keeping the loop warm, when you turn on a faucet or shower, you receive hot water almost instantly because the system is already hot. Without a recirculation loop, all the cold water that is in your pipes must be drained out before you receive the hot water. Unfortunately, waiting for cold water to be flushed out of the hot water system accounts for a lot of wasted water going down your drain.
If almost instant hot water sounds good to you, but your home doesn’t have a recirculation loop, all is not necessarily lost. Adding a recirculation loop to your existing plumbing is possible. If the water piping in your home runs over head, above the ceiling, and you have an attic for access to the system, adding a recirculation loop is not too difficult or too expensive. If your water piping runs over head but you do not have an attic, it is still possible, but more complicated and expensive. If your water piping runs underground, it is still possible, but very complicated costing more.
If adding a recirculation loop to your existing system is not a reasonable solution, there is still an available option. There is a “retro fit” recirculation pump that can be installed at your water heater that will help get hot water to your fixtures quicker. This “retro fit” system is not as efficient as an actual recirculation loop, but it is much better than having no system at all.
If you need water heater maintenance, repairs, replacement, or upgrading, let us check your water heater to determine its current condition. If you are interested in a hot water recirculation system, let us review your existing water piping to see what you could reasonably consider. We can look at your specific situation, and then discuss your options so you can make an informed decision that is best for you and your home.