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When to consider buying a new hot water heater

Maintain your water heater to extend its life.

When you own a home or condo, there’s a lot to worry about. There’s your appliances, your roof, your backyard, your garage door—and that’s just the home maintenance, nevermind your actual life, which includes work, play, and spending time with your family. Here’s probably what you’re not giving much thought to: your home’s water heater, or your plumbing in general.

Like your air conditioner and furnace, your hot water heater is almost always running and keeping your home comfortable, yet it’s easy to overlook because it just sits there and does its job, year-after-year, for years to come. While it’s nice to have one less thing to worry about, your water heater won’t last forever, and you’ll need to pay some attention to it, especially as it begins to age. In this blog post, we’ll review situations in which you should consider purchasing a new hot water heater from the professionals at King.

Has your water heater been failing?

This is the number one reason people upgrade to a new hot water heater. After all, we push most buying decisions until the point where we need to replace something, and a water heater that is no longer working is a powerful incentive to upgrade.

However, there are instances in which getting a new water heater prior to your old one failing make sense. For example, if your water heater becomes incapable of raising your water temperature above a certain level, or if you’ve noticed that the stored hot water it produces has noticeably diminished, preventing you and your family from getting ready in the morning.

Alternatively, you may notice small leaks or condensation on the outside of the system. While not yet at the crisis level of the system bursting, any moisture leak from the system means that it’s time to call the professionals at King Heating & Cooling for a replacement hot water heater. Don’t ignore the signs of hot water heater failure and be stuck without hot water—or, worse, a flooded home.

4 signs you need a new water heater

If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to have an experienced plumber from King out to your home to inspect your water heater.

1. Your water looks muddy or sandy

If the water coming out of the tap looks muddy or sandy, you could have a buildup of sediment in your water heater tank. You may be able to rectify the problem by simply draining the contents of the tank and clearing out the sediment. However, if muddy water continues to be a problem, it may be time for a new water heater.

If you see rust when you turn on the hot water, this is one of the clearest signs you need a new water heater. Rust and corrosion usually happen when the anode rod is spent and the walls of the tank are exposed to water and heat for years. If your water heater is deteriorating, it will start to rust and eventually start leaking.

2. Your water heater doesn’t produce hot water anymore

Nothing’s worse than feeling a burst of cold water in the middle of a warm, comfortable shower. If this is happening to you on a regular basis, you probably need to replace your water heater.

When the heating element in a water heater burns out, it will no longer put out hot water. If your water heater is still fairly new, you may be able to get the heating element repaired. If it’s old, it may make more financial sense to just replace the entire unit. Your King plumber will advise you on the best course of action.

3. You have no idea when your water heater was last replaced

Try to find out when your water heater was made. You can usually figure this out by finding the serial number and looking it up online. If your water heater is at least 10 years old, you should consider replacing it. At the very least, you should call King for an inspection to make sure your water heater is still safely working.

If you have been in your home for longer than 10 to 15 years and you have no idea when your water heater was last replaced, it’s time for a new one. Most water heaters last a maximum of 15 years, so if yours is older, it’s probably very close to the end of its operational life.

4. You frequently have to schedule repairs

One of the most common water heater replacement signs is the need for frequent repairs. If your water heater breaks down all the time, you’ll be better off replacing it. Not only will you save money in the long run by purchasing a new unit, but you’ll also have greater peace of mind that you’ll actually have access to hot water when you need it.

If you see any moisture near your water heater, it’s time to call the professionals at King Heating, Cooling & Plumbing. As metal heats up, it expands and it may cause the water tank to develop a small fracture. If the leaking gets worse, it may cause flooding or water damage.

5. Your water heater is making strange noises

Your water heater should be relatively quiet. However, it may start rumbling as it ages. As your water heater gets older, sediment will accumulate at the bottom of the tank. As the sediment gets constantly heated, it hardens and causes banging or rumbling sounds.

These noises indicate that there is a layer of hard sediment that is causing damage to your water heater and making it less efficient.

Are your energy costs skyrocketing?

As a general rule, the equipment manufactured today—whether we’re talking about hot water heaters, air conditioners, or furnaces—is more energy efficient than preceding models. Part of that is improved materials and technology, while some of that is owed to an increased emphasis on preserving energy. Whether your water heater uses gas or electricity, an older system is less likely to be conserving energy in your home. This inefficiency can add up: the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that water heaters account for 17% of residential energy use on average.

The good news is that, by upgrading to a new hot water heater, you can save on your monthly energy bills. Generally speaking, gas systems are more energy saving than electric ones, so be sure to ask King about your options if you have gas lines in your home. No matter what system you choose, it’s going to be more efficient than the older system that you’re replacing.

Why should I upgrade my water heater?

  • Your current heater may be highly inefficient: Generally, the newer the water heater, the more energy efficient it is—and the more money it saves you every month on your utility bills. Your old water heater may be costing you a lot of money, because…
  • It uses more energy than most of your home: While people might not think of a water heater as a major electricity or gas hog, most water heaters use more than anything else in your home, sans your heating and cooling system.
  • Your water heater may not meet your needs: Maybe your water heater is too small, and doesn’t have the capacity to hold enough hot water for you and your family to get ready in the morning. If so, you might be in the market for a system that holds a greater supply.

What should I look for in new hot water heater?

Here are three things to consider when you’re on the hunt for a new heater:

  1. Check the FHR:  One of the most pervasive misconceptions about hot water heaters is that a bigger tank always translates to more hot water on hand. Instead, check the label on the heater for the First-Hour Rating (FHR). The FHR indicates the amount of hot water that the heater can dispense within the first hour of use. If you have questions about FHR or how to compare systems, give King Heating and Cooling a call.
  2. Look at the EF: The “Efficiency Factor” (EF) measures the total energy efficient of a  water heater. The higher the EF figure, the more efficient the heater is. Gas water heaters have an EF between 0.50 and 0.60, with some high-efficiency models around 0.80. Remember: the more energy efficient your heater is, the more you’ll save on energy bills for years to come.
  3. Find value: This doesn’t mean just selecting the least expensive water heater you find. A cheap water heater might save you money initially, but—over the lifetime of the heater—could cost you big in electricity/gas bills. Instead, weigh the FHR and EF against the price to get a water heater that’s right for your home.

Is your current water heater nearing the end of its lifespan?

Hot water heaters typically last between 10 and 12 years, although some can live well beyond that. Generally, though, your water heater’s second decade of life will be its last, and you should at least be prepared to think about replacement during that time. That’s something King can help with. We have a wide selection of new hot water heaters.

Easy steps for water heater upkeep

1. Inspect the pressure valve

All water heaters have a temperature pressure release valve that can release pressure from the tank if it gets too high. It’s essential that this valve is working correctly to avoid serious problems. You can inspect the TPR valve by lifting the valve to let a little bit of water out of the tank, then close it. If water continues to flow from the valve, you’ll need to have one of the professional plumbers here at King replace it.

2. Check the anode rods

Regularly checking on your water heater’s anode rod is essential in preventing the tank from rusting. This small rod consists of a steel wire surrounded by either zinc, magnesium, aluminum, or all three. The anode rod attracts the corrosive materials in your water so that the interior tank walls don’t corrode. If you don’t replace the rod regularly, you may have to replace your tank sooner.

To check on the status of the anode rod, unscrew it from the top of the tank. If it has been corroded down to less the one-half-inch thick or has a thick coating of calcium, it’s time for a replacement. Call King for anode rod replacement services here in Chicagoland.

3. Flush the tank

For optimal functionality, your water heater needs to be flushed at least annually. This removes the sediment that builds up in the tank, reducing its efficiency and even clogging the water lines.

Perform a tank flush by turning off the cold-water inlet to the tank. Attach a hose to the drain valve and open the TPR valve. Drain the water out of the tank into an area that can a large amount of hot water, such as a floor drain. After all the water is out of the tank, close all the valves and turn on the hot water faucets in your home and the cold-water inlet. Once water flows back through the faucets, close each one and turn your water heater back on, lighting the pilot light carefully.

What are demand-type water heaters?

Hot water is one of those things that you don’t truly appreciate until you no longer have it. From showering and washing your dishes to doing your laundry, there’s a lot you need hot water for. That’s just one of the many reasons you should consider making the switch to a demand-type water heater.

Demand-type, or tankless water heaters, have many benefits compared to standard water heaters. In this blog, we’ll break down some of the key differences.

Save money by saving energy

One of the main reasons to switch out your current water heater for a demand-type system is to save money on the cost of heating your water. Among the benefits of these systems is that water is only heated when you turn on the faucet, rather than needing it to be heated and then stored in a tank.

Because of their efficiency, you’ll also be doing your part to save the environment when you install a tankless water heater. It’s easier than ever to go green, and your home’s appliances are a great place to start.

Get more years out of your system

No matter how much you’d like to save on heating, cooling, and plumbing, there’s no denying the fact that home appliances can be expensive. Another great thing about tankless water heaters is that they’ve been known to last for up to 20 years when well-taken care of.

Better water, better safety

When water is heated and left in a storage tank, there’s a chance it can collect rust and scale, which you don’t want coming out of your showerhead or kitchen faucet when you’re ready to cook. You can sidestep that issue with a tankless heater.

You also don’t have to worry as much about accidentally scalding yourself with burning hot water with a water heater that doesn’t use a tank. That’s because such water heaters have unique safety features that keep that from happening.

Ready to upgrade to a new hot water heater?

King has experienced plumbers and technicians who have the training needed to install new hot water heaters that work great and save you money on your monthly energy bills. If you’re looking for a new hot water heater in South Side Chicago, turn to the professionals at King. Contact us online or reach us by calling 708-315-2168.