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Posts Tagged: water heaters

Is your water heater failing?

Posted On: Filed Under: Tank water heaters, Tankless water heaters 2 Comments on Is your water heater failing?

Your water heater may be the unsung, tireless workhorse of your home, but it’s not immortal. Here are a few signs that your water heater is about to fail… and that cold times may be ahead.

Your water heater is over ten years old.

The age of your water heater matters. It is the catalyst in several water heater failures and mishaps. In fact, the issues you’ll read about later in this article can all be caused by age alone. Depending on maintenance, the standard water heater can last eight to twelve years. If yours is pushing ten years old, keep a wary eye on it and consider having preventative maintenance done before disaster strikes.

You see rusty water.

Rusty water is one of the most noticeable signs of water heater damage and a top indicator that it’s time for a water heater replacement. This is especially true if your water heater is more than ten years old. If you notice discolored hot water coming from a newer unit, call Washington Energy Services and we’ll send a water heater specialist to inspect it. It’s also possible that your rusty water is a product of galvanized pipes or a disturbance in the public water supply. Either way, don’t wait to get this question answered.

The water tank is leaking.

Water around the base of the water tank is a telltale sign that something isn’t right. Even if the fracture is small, the consistent heating and cooling of the water causes the metal to expand and contract. Even if it only leaks some of the time, a new water heater is probably in order. After all, it only takes minutes to flood a home.

You hear a rumbling noise.

What’s that sound? It’s your water heater’s cries for help (or replacement). This problem is typically found with older water heaters, as sediment begins to build up on the bottom. This sediment hardens with time and the frequent temperature changes can cause it to emit rumbling or banging sounds.

A failing water heater doesn’t just mean cold showers and possible flooding. It can also wreak havoc on your energy bills. New water heaters are designed to provide higher performance with less energy usage. Luckily, Washington Energy Services has a huge selection of energy efficient tank and tankless water heaters to fit your needs and budget.

Keep an eye out for these water heater failure signs to avoid flooding, optimize your home’s efficiency, and enjoy hot showers all winter long.

We can quote tank water heater replacement over the phone and email, with no in-home visit required. Fill out our estimate form to get started.

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2015 government changes to water heaters will affect you

Posted On: Filed Under: Tank water heaters, Tankless water heaters 39 Comments on 2015 government changes to water heaters will affect you

Who made the new rulings?

The National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) was approved by Congress and is administered by the US Department of Energy (DOE). This is the same organization that oversees the EnergyStar program. That translates to: this is serious business and a real change for all water heaters sold in the US.

What are the new water heater regulations?

Water heaters produced after April 16, 2015 must conform to new energy efficiency standards. These translate to a mandatory increase of 3% – 30% greater efficiency vs. current models. The amount varies by tank size based on formulas. The larger the tank, the more the efficiency is required. The gains in efficiency are small, but given that the vast majority of homes in America have a water heater; small can add up to big savings for the environment.

How does this affect me?

If you have a tankless water heater with an efficiency rating above .82, (all that we sell are at this level), good news, your water heater already complies. However if you are in one of the hundreds of thousands of Western Washington homes, condos and apartments with a standard tank water heater – please read on!

In order to gain the efficiency, manufacturers will be adding additional insulation to water heater tanks. This will impact you as follows:

1. Fitting it in your house. Unlike the new light bulbs that fit in the same sockets as incandescent ones, the new tanks are not going to be the same size. The Rheem tankless water heaters are 27-1/2″ in height, 18-1/2″ in width and 9-3/4″ in depth. If you have a tight closet or a small door, you may have to relocate your water heater, or take off door jambs to bring it in. And sorry, we (or any installer) would have to charge for that if we did it. There will also be new and larger venting required for some gas water heaters.

2. Manufacturer price increase. All of the manufacturers will have to re-tool production lines, and this is expensive. Combine that with increased materials cost from adding more insulation to tanks and we anticipate retail price increases in the range of $100.

3. Custom install solutions needed. To fit some homes and apartments may require creative planning on the part of your installer. For example: If a 50 gallon tank won’t fit, a 40 gallon tank with an added mixing valve may produce the hot water you need. Fortunately our team has the experience to do that.

4. Some larger sized tanks may be discontinued. If you have a large size electric tank (66 or 80 gallon) or 75 gallon gas water heater, some of these are being discontinued. While new products may come along to replace them, the installer community has not yet seen them.

What can I do right now?

Standard water heater tanks last around 8-10 years. If you are thinking it’s time to replace or if you have an older tank located in a tight closet (hello condo & apartment dwellers!), we recommend doing it sooner than later.

Three choices for replacement

1. Upgrade to tank water heaters that already qualify at the new energy efficiency levels, (gas or propane).

2. Replace with your same tank style and size while still available.

3. Consider a move to a tankless water heater.

For gas water heaters, models are available today that meet and actually exceed the new standards. Tankless water heaters are an available option as they run on gas or propane and meet the new energy standards. We also carry super efficient standard tanks, for example, Rheem Power Damper water heaters. They are EnergyStar rated and exceed the new efficiency standards, saving you even more on your water heating costs. This type of water heater costs a bit more than today’s standard gas water heater, but we expect it to be closer in price to the new gas water heaters in 2015. So you can start saving energy now, at around the price you might pay next year.

Current hot water heater tank styles can still be installed after April 16, 2015 but inventory will eventually run out. Installers and suppliers are stocking the last of the available current style tanks as we know many people will want them.

Whatever the new rules bring, Washington Energy will be able to provide you with water heater choices, custom installation and competitive pricing. For a free all-inclusive quote over the phone, please call us at 800-398-4663. Group discounts are available now for condos and apartment buildings.

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Tank vs tankless – the water heater wars

Posted On: Filed Under: Tank water heaters, Tankless water heaters 2 Comments on Tank vs tankless – the water heater wars

Tank water heaters

Most homes have standard 40 or 50 gallon tank water heaters. They keep water hot all day and night, ready for your use. Tank water heaters usually last around ten years, during which time even the best of them builds up sediment and a little rust. After ten years of use, don’t be surprised if a little bit of water begins to leak from the bottom signaling a failed tank and the need for a replacement. It is especially important to keep an eye on older tanks that are in the home as a leaky tank can result in water damage or worse. With this in mind it is a good idea to have a general game plan put together for when the time comes to replace your tank water heater.

The first thing you need to investigate is what type of tank you have. There are two main ways your tank heats water: electricity or gas. An electric tank has no venting and is often in a conditioned space (meaning inside your house, not the garage). There are two types of gas water heaters: B-vent and Direct Vent. B-Vent has smaller four inch venting that exhausts into a chimney or ties into another exhaust vent. The direct vent will vent directly to the exterior of the home at a 90 degree angle. Can you identify which one you have?

The electric tank is the least expensive tank to buy. However, it terms of your utility bill, an electric tank will cost you the most to run on a monthly basis. This is because it takes a fair amount of electrical power to heat the water, and electricity costs more than natural gas. We recommend that if you have the ability to get gas to the house that you get a gas water heater which will be a less overall cost to run over the lifetime of the tank.

For gas tanks there are two main efficiencies, the .67 and the .62. That means 62-67% of the fuel they take in is converted into heating. These ratings are the same for both the b-vent tanks and the direct vent tanks. The main difference is that the higher efficiency unit has a vent damper which runs about 500-800 dollars more. This will save you about $20 per month on your natural gas bill at today’s prices. In 2 years, a federal efficiency mandate will require all tanks to be at a .67 efficiency so anyone buying a tank will need this vent damper. In terms of the base cost between the direct vent and the b-vent, the direct vent is the most expensive because of the extra technology used for the exhaust venting.

Tankless water heater

The alternative for homes with gas or propane is a tankless water heater. A tankless water heater will heat water only when you need it though a heat exchanger. And it never runs out. There is no reserve of water to rust out a tank and leak. The water is pumped into the system and heated on demand. This is a great option for people who travel between homes, or don’t want to heat water when they are not there. The tankless is also a wonderful solution to problems like running out of hot water in the morning or evenings when most of your hot water usage takes place. With a tankless you can supply the unlimited hot water to more than one appliance at a time – so you can shower while your dishwasher runs and both get equally hot water.

The cost for a tankless water heater can be 2 -3 times the cost of a tank. However, they have a much longer life expectancy of 20 years, with 12 year warrany on the heat exchanger. Tankless units are more efficient, with models at 84% up to 95% efficiency (.84, .95). With that greater efficiency, if you kept your water use the same, your tankless water heater should reduce your gas bill and help bridge the price gap. However, most people find that savings short lived, as they really enjoy longer hot showers.

Having a plan in place for when your tank needs to be replaced helps reduce the stress around dealing with what is normally an unexpected problem. If your tank is 10 years or older get in the habit of checking the bottom of the tank for leaks. Once a water heater begins to leak, it can only get worse so once you spot water it is time to call us to get the problem fixed.

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