Tucked away in a recess of your home, the hot water heater isn’t one of those items you may spend much time thinking about. You use it multiple times a day, but it can create an eye-opening experience when it breaks down. Before a breakdown happens and you’re forced to endure a frigid shower one morning, consider the following four reasons to give this important appliance a welcome overhaul.
You’re Not as Hot as You Once Were
This item has nothing to do with looks, although it may have to do with aging … of your hot water heater.
You may find yourself taking a slightly cooler shower each day. Given the size of your household, you may attribute this temperature change to an everyday busy morning. But this signal points to your existing water heater not performing optimally. Poor performance has several culprits, including broken or worn hot water heater components, leaks, incompatibility with water-conserving or anti-scald devices, or — in the cases of larger families — the hot water heater simply not being large enough to keep up with demand.
You Want to Be Greener
Taking shorter showers, installing low-flow showerheads, and decreasing the temperature on your water heater are all great energy-saving tasks, but with the average lifespan of a hot water heater being 10 to 15 years, a newer water heater may be your best solution.
Energy Star–recommended hot water heaters may carry a higher purchase price, but their return on investment can be significant in terms of energy savings. For example, an electric heat pump water heater or a high-efficiency gas water heater can reduce energy costs up to $300 per year, while a gas-condensing water heater may qualify for federal tax credits. At any rate, replacing your existing hot water heater for a more efficient model reduces overall carbon dioxide emissions.
You Have Lime Scale Buildup
While lime scale and other forms of buildup can plague any water source, it’s especially problematic if you have well water. You probably know what sediment in well water can do to washing machines, coffee makers, and irons.
The hot water heater also collects sediment, which is why you should drain your water heater quarterly to reduce buildup. If your water heater is too far gone and problems such as reduced hot water duration or leaks persist, you may want to look for a new hot water heater. Remember to drain your new unit periodically to extend its lifespan.
You Need Your Space
Tankless water heaters are great if you want to increase energy efficiency and storage space in your garage or basement. As the name suggests, these models have no tank, meaning they also require less materials to produce. By heating only the water being used instead of several gallons at a time, they reduce energy costs up to 25 percent and eliminate standby heat loss, the amount of heat lost by unused hot water. When you need to replace your tankless water heater, the materials of your old heater can be recycled.
Whether you are experiencing problems with your hot water heater or simply want to reduce overall energy costs, take a second look at this unsung hero of the household.