Tips for installing a new water heater

Tips for installing a new water heater

Dear Angie: What are the key questions to ask for installing a water heater? We are replacing our old 40-gallon gas water heater with a new one. It is still working, but it is about 15 years old. We are contacting three or four plumbers for prices and want to ask the appropriate questions to compare and get the work done that we need done. — Ron K., Asheville, N.C.

Dear Ron: Most tank water heaters last eight to 12 years on average before they start to wear out — typically that’s indicated by them leaking — so it’s great that you’re proactive in replacing yours before it breaks down completely and causes water damage or leaves you stranded in a cold shower.

Before you shop around, you should first ask yourself a couple of questions: How well did your previous water heater perform? Do you often run out of hot water if it’s getting a lot of use (for example someone takes a shower, someone simultaneously does the dishes and the next person ready to take their shower ends up with a cold one halfway through)?

If water temperature has been a problem in the past, then one question you definitely want to ask your provider is if your tank is properly sized to meet the needs of your family. You could need a larger capacity water heater. Conversely, if you once had a large family in the home but now you’re an empty nester, for example, you might be able to scale down the size of the heater you need. That’s a question a qualified plumber can help answer. By having the unit properly sized, you’ll ensure you meet your family’s needs while maximizing your heater’s efficiency. After all, water heaters account for between 15 and 25 percent of your home’s energy usage, on average, so you don’t want to waste your money unnecessarily heating water in one that’s oversized.

It’s also important to look at the estimated annual operating costs of the unit, as well as its energy efficiency rating. The more efficient it is, the less fuel it will use, thus lowering your energy costs.

Be sure to get in writing the details of the job from each plumber you talk to, so you can fully understand the costs associated with the installation of the new unit and compare apples to apples. Ask the company if it charges to remove and dispose of the old water heater. Also, ask how the company will vent the water heater. Check that the company you hire is properly licensed and carries both worker’s compensation and liability insurance.

A qualified plumber will help guide you to make the best purchase for you, rather than the product that offers the highest profit margins. Your plumber should also be able to provide information on which water heaters qualify for federal tax credits. If you haven’t used the credit since 2006 and buy a qualifying water heater by Dec. 31, 2013, you could get up to a $300 credit on next year’s taxes. Solar water heaters are another efficient option and offer up to a 30 percent credit good through 2016. A good plumber will also have information on local rebates available through your utility providers for upgrading your water heater to a more efficient unit, if any are available.

Another thing to consider is a tankless water heater. These units cost more than a traditional tank heater, but they don’t leak, last twice as long on average, are much more efficient and deliver almost non-stop hot water on demand. Your plumber should educate you on what type of water heater would be best for you.

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Charles Schoen

Subject: Water heater issues,TANKLESS replacement, and changing sizes

Although alot of the advice you are giving about water heaters is good, there are alot of other issues that must be addressed when replacing a water heater. 1. If you are considering going to a large size water heater, you will also need to consider the space you have available, the size of the vent pipe ( it may need to be change in size), and the gas demand needed for a larger water heater. Along with the necessary upgrades to current codes. The hype about tank less water heaters is VERY overrated!!! The facts remain that you may need to change the size of the gas line from the meter (gas lines are sized for demand already, and cannot be changed), and the vent pipe (usually will be needed to be larger), the labor to mount the new unit, and the cost difference between a standard water heater and a tank less one. Do the math, if after adding up in all of the costs, including the supposed gas costs, you will find that it is in most cases it is not any cheaper than just buying two water heaters. Now as far as maintaining the tank less water heater it is VERY important to flush the unit on an annual basis!! Remember the unit flash heats the water, and it can build up sediment quicker! ONLY UP SIDE I SEE, IS IF YOU NEED AN ENDLESS AMOUNT OF HOT WATER!
Charles Schoen 24/7 Plumbing Tucson AZ.

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