Having a home furnace can make those cold winter nights much more enjoyable, we’d say even relaxing. Most homeowners, however, don’t really know how a furnace works and can find themselves in need of an untimely heating repair when they find themselves with a broken furnace. Worried that might happen to you?
Ever wonder what the difference is between a gas water heater and an electric water heater? Tankless water heaters versus traditional water heaters? Let us fill you in on the details so you know which is the best choice for your home.
A water heater is a vital appliance in any home, especially if you like comfortable showers with enough water pressure and hot water that doesn’t run out before you finish. Have you ever tried to jump in the shower in the morning before a long day to find that your water just isn’t hot enough? It’s no fun! What about coming home from work to find that you’ve only got ice water to refresh you after a long day? No thanks!
So, water heaters are definitely our friends. But which one is right for you? Whether you're looking for a new water heater installation or want to know if what you’ve got makes the most sense, we’re going to take a look at the different types of water heaters and how they vary. That way, when it comes time for your next plumbing service, you’ll be ready for the job.
There are two main types of water heaters: electric, and gas. Between the two, there is a further option: do you want one with a tank that stores a quantity of hot water, or are you looking for one that heats your water as you go?
Let’s learn a bit about each option.
Gas Water Heaters
Gas water heaters run off of natural gas, and will typically recover hot water used faster than an electric heater. The initial cost of a gas water heater may be slightly more than an electric one due to the gas line installation; if you already have a gas line installed in your home, however, it can be a quick and affordable installation.
In addition, there are some high energy-efficiency options in gas water heaters on the market that simply aren’t available for electric water heaters, which will prove a higher level of overall efficiency.
On the downside, if your gas water heater is not a high energy-efficiency model, it will in fact increase energy consumption and produce more waste. This could be solved by simply insulating the unit as well. Furthermore, gas does pose some danger in the case of a gas line leak detection, which will result in an urgent gas line repair.
Electric Water Heaters
Depending on the unit and the amount of water you will be using, electric water heaters may be a good option for your home. Typically you will see a lower installation cost in an electric water heater and you won’t have to worry about a gas line installation or repair down the line.
Since electric water heaters are dependent on electricity, though, they will unfortunately not work if the power goes out. Further, over the lifespan of the heater, you may end up spending more in usage as electricity costs more than gas.
This will depend on how much water you need to use; electric water heaters have a slower recovery rate than gas water heaters, so if you have a large family and need to heat up large quantities of water, this may not be the best option and could cost you a lot more in the long-term.
Tankless Water Heaters
Aside from considering gas versus electric, you may want to consider whether or not a tankless water heater would be a better option for you.
Traditional water heaters store a set quantity of water and maintain its heat. This goes for both gas and electric water heaters. If you use more than what is stored in the tank, you’ll run out of hot water until the unit can recover.
A tankless water heater, however, will take the cold water and heat it as you need it, thus avoiding the inconvenience of running out of hot water. This also allows for energy efficiency in the sense that it won’t be holding the water at high temperatures, reducing energy output and potentially lowering costs and environmental impact.
Tankless water heaters are also excellent options for homes with small or limited space, as you won’t have to find a spot for the tank and your unit installation will be much smaller.
There are some disadvantages, however. As far as initial costs are concerned, tankless water heater installation will cost you more than traditional unit installation. Also, If you have a large family or want to run many hot water faucets or showers at the same time, you’ll need a larger unit, as a smaller one won’t likely be able to keep up with the demand. You’ll also have to wait a bit for the water to heat up, as it won’t be coming from a direct heated storage but rather an instant heating process. This doesn’t take too long, but there is a delay nonetheless.
Final Thoughts Overall, there are many things to consider here. As far as gas and electric water heaters go, take these things into account:
All of these factors will help you to decide which type of water heater unit is right for you. When considering whether or not to go tankless, consider:
After considering all of these factors, you should have a pretty good idea of which type of unit is right for you, or whether or not you should switch your current unit. If you’re looking to switch from a gas water heater to electric, the process is very straightforward. When switching from electric to gas, however, you’ll have to keep in mind the necessity of the gas line installation which can complicate the process and raise costs.
All in all, traditional gas and electric water heaters have a lifespan of about 12-13 years, whereas you’ll see a longer lifespan of around 20 years from a tankless water heater, be it gas or electric.
If you still need help in making the choice or talking it over with someone, reach out to us at New West Plumbing!
Your home represents one of the biggest investments you will ever make. You need to carefully consider each potential purchase in New Westminster BC. Plumbing represents one of the most important items to consider, so let’s look at six essential items to consider when house hunting. These include checking for leaks on the faucets, shower heads, and toilets; checking for basement flooding or foundation dampness; the water heater condition; the water meter and supply; condition of the pipes; and water pressure in each plumbed room.
Check for Leaks in Faucets and Appliances
You probably notice if the kitchen or bathroom faucet leaks just by looking at it when you enter the room. You need to check under each sink, too, though to see if the pipe or drain leaks. Carefully check around the dishwasher and inside it for leaks or pooling water. Also, look at each of the toilets. Examine the base for leaks. If you see leak-evidence, also check the floor around it because a persistent leak could result in sub-floor damage. If the toilet rocks back and forth when you sit on it or touch it, it signals a leak at the base. In the laundry room, you need to check for leaks in the water line to the washing machine and any handwash sink. Check all of the outdoor spigots as well. Many people forget these and a leak can cause unwelcome foundation damage plus high water bills.
Basement and Foundation Dampness
In the basement and/or crawl space, check the ceiling for leaky pipes in the inside water lines. Also, closely examine this area for water damage or indicators of poor repair jobs. Look at the base of every wall. If there are boxes or other items against the walls, ask that they are moved so you can see the wall base. If you observe discoloration on the walls that look like a shadow or an area where the paint is darker, this signals water damage. Other signs include peeling paint, rotting wood, a chalky dusting on the walls. In the attic, look for dampness, mildew or moldy wood.
Water Heater Condition
The realtors or homeowners should be able to tell you the age of the water heater. The typical water heater lasts about ten years. Anything older than that needs replacing. Check it for leaks and check the lines running to it for leaks. Examine the flooring surrounding it to determine if a previous problem with a leak existed. Multiple leaks of corrosion or rust may signal a need for water heater replacement.
Water Meter and Supply
You probably have to wait until you plop down the earnest money for this step, but you need to check the water meter and its supply line for leaks. To do that, you have to conduct a four-step process.
1. Shut off the water supply.
2. Read the water meter.
3. Wait for one hour.
4. Read the water meter.
If the reading changed while the water supply was turned off, you have a leak. You need to have that fixed before moving into the home. If you cannot test this until you move into the home, you need to call a plumber immediately.
Condition and Materials of the Pipes
After the leak check, the two most important aspects of the pipe condition are their age and material. These water supply pipes cost a great deal to replace and would cost more than earnest money would cover. If the pipes are lead, they must get replaced. You could easily develop lead poisoning from drinking the water from them. If you find plastic or copper pipes, the house either just got built or the current owner already replaced them. Older homes may have galvanized steel pipes or cast iron pipes that you will need to replace. Consider it a red flag if you see a mixture of various pipe materials. That signals minimal repairs. Rarely, you will find polybutylene pipes. Made of flexible gray plastic, they were only installed from the 1970s to the 1990s since they were later found to erode when exposed to chlorine.
Test the water pressure by turning on all the faucets at one time. Low pressure might indicate pipe diameters that are too small. From the water source to your home 3/4” pipes should deliver the water while the lines to the faucets should be 1/2” or greater. Check the showers for water pressure, too. If you notice low pressure in the shower, but not in the sinks, check the showerhead for a low flow device. You can easily remove these to get a normal shower. Also, observe the faucets and showers for signs of rust in the water.
Considerations in Home Buying
A plumbing leak does not have to mean you won’t buy the house, but considering the home sales climate, it should make you pause and take a closer look at the home. Most home sellers go the extra mile to ensure their home’s condition improves before selling it. They do that before the home appraisal occurs in the buying process. They typically do it before listing the property with a realtor.
When you find leaks or water damage that indicates the home’s seller did not care for the property properly. This provides clues that you should look carefully at the rest of the house for other problems such as the furnace.
You may be able to obtain an estimate on the repairs before taking any further steps in the purchase. If they exceed the amount of the earnest payment, think twice or negotiate. You may be able to negotiate with the seller to lower the price of the home the amount of the repairs. That way, although you experience a little inconvenience when you first move into the home, you still do not have to spend anything more than the original planned cost of the home. Contact your realtor for help with this process.
Call us at New West Plumbing for help inspecting the property or for a repair estimate. When you think “I need dependable plumbers near me” think of us. We provide effective, efficient repairs for your plumbing and furnace in New Westminster.