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WATER HEATER Articles
- What Are Some Possible Causes For Reduced Hot Water Temperature?
- Flammable Vapor Ignition Resistant (FVIR) Technology in Water Heaters
- Extend Your Water Heater's Useful Life
- Where Should the Expansion Tank Be Installed?
- Which Water Heaters Are More Environmentally Friendly And Produce The Least Greenhouse Gas Emissions?
What Are Some Possible Causes For Reduced Hot Water Temperature?
There are several possible causes that would reduce the temperature of your hot water. Start with your water heater; what type do you have: If you have an electric water heater, it could be a defective lower element or the dip tub could be missing; or if you have a gas water heater, it most likely is the dip tube (see FAQs – Dip Tubes).
It is important to remember that in the winter months, the water coming into your pipes will be much colder. The remaining hot water in the tank is diluted (incoming cold water pushes out hot water). A change in shower heads can also impact the outflow temperature of your water. Only 2/3 of the water heater’s capacity is usable hot water – a 50 gallon tank would give approximately 33 gallons. If you have a showerhead that is limited to 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM), you would have 15-20 minutes until the temperature drops, but if you have 5GPM – you would only have 8-10 minutes of hot water.
Here are a couple of tests that you can do:
- Don’t use any hot water for at least 4 hours. In a 5 gallon bucket with a 160 degree minimum temperature thermometer, turn the hot water on and allow it to fill the bucket. The thermometer should be in the stream of the hot water flowing out. Record how many times you fill the 5 gallon bucket before the temperature drops by 20 degrees.
- To determine the GPM rate of your showerhead, hold the bucket up to the shower and have someone turn on the shower and fill the bucket for 30 seconds. Determine how much water is in the bucket. Double that amount to get you GPM. If the bucket fills 1/3 in 30seconds, consider switching your shower head to a low flow showerhead. This will not only stretch your hot water usage, but also conserve water.
Go to the section on Models to determine the age of the water heater. If the tank is more than 7-8 years of age; it may not be worth repairing the water heater, but rather replacing the water heater.
Flammable Vapor Ignition Resistant (FVIR) Technology in Water Heaters
Prior to 2003, a majority of gas water heaters were not considered very safe. They had an open combustion chamber which allowed an owner to relight the pilot by simply using a match. The danger of this, though evident, became a major concern as combustibles such as, gasoline; propane; etc. were being stored in close proximity of the gas water heaters creating a serious risk to the homeowner’s safety.
Thanks to a new government standard established July 1, 2003, by the American National Standards Institution (ANSI), today’s residential water heaters manufactured are FVIR compliant and have proven to be safe and reliable – provided they are installed, used, and maintained properly. Together with the Consumer Products Safety Commission, the manufacturers developed this new technology – FVIR. The new design of the gas water heaters comes with a sealed combustion chamber with an air inlet allowing air to flow through the flame arrestor plate - made of perforated steel. If flammable vapors enter the combustion chamber, the flame arrestor plate prevents any flames from escaping by controlling the vapors. Additionally, this new design will no longer allow the pilot to be lit with a match but rather the pilot mechanism. Though, there have been a few unfortunate acciden
Extend Your Water Heater's Useful Life
What is the typical lifespan of a water heater?
Although uncommon, some water heaters can last up to 15 years and sometimes 20 years. A standard water heater will last between eight and twelve years. The majority of tanks today are steel, lined with glass or porcelain. Over time most tanks will oxidize and deteriorate which produces a small peak - in some cases a disastrous leak. For this reason it is important to know where the water shutoff valve is located.
Keep in mind that most water heaters decrease in efficiency as a result of sediment build-up, even if it is still working.
Note – tankless water heaters can last 2 to 3 times longer than the traditional tanks, provided the owner cares for the unit properly.5 Ways to Help Prolong Your Water Heater's Useful Life
A few things that can extend your water heater’s life:
- Install a 2nd Anode Rod: The anode rod is a sacrificial rod made of magnesium or aluminum that undergoes galvanic corrosion over time; thereby sacrificing itself and preventing corrosion of the tank.
- Install an Expansion Tank: When water is heated from 50º to 120º, it expands by approximately 2% (a 50 gallon tank will produce 1 gallon of additional volume). If your system is closed (a valve which prevents your water from back flowing into the water main), this water has nowhere to go. Because water is not a particularly compressible material, it will cause rapid increases and decreases in water pressure. This expanding and contracting causes stress on both your water heater and your plumbing system which can cause damage and premature failure. Installing an expansion tank can potentially double the life of your water heater
- Clean or flush out the tank: For older tanks, flushing out the tank annually can help prevent sediment buildup and helps maintain an efficient tank for longer. Newer model water heaters are self-cleaning.
- Install a Pressure Regulating Valve (PRV): High water pressure (above 90 PSI) can damage your appliance and can also cause your water heater to prematurely fail. The PRV will reduce the system pressure. It is recommended to install an Expansion Tank if you have a PRV
- Install a water softener: Water with high concentrations of minerals (commonly known as “hard water”) causes scaling - a precipitation of minerals deposited onto surfaces of an appliance. Scaling reduces the efficiency of the appliance and can increase the use of electricity.
Where Should the Expansion Tank Be Installed?
Expansion tanks can be installed anywhere on your homes plumbing systems; it is not necessary to be installed close to the water heater. We recommend installing the expansion tank on the cold line, downstream of the shutoff valve.
Expansion tanks – though recommended by retail stores to be hung in the vertical position – can be installed at any altitude. Retail expansion tanks come with a Saddle Fitting, a device that clamps around the pipe with female threads that will accept the expansion tank.
Which Water Heaters Are More Environmentally Friendly And Produce The Least Greenhouse Gas Emissions?
In a ranking of best to worst, the following are a list of water heaters that are environmentally friendly and produce the least greenhouse gas emissions with estimated annual C02 emissions based on a standard home and a family of four:
- Solar Water Heaters currently rank highest on the most environmentally friendly water heaters; however, they do still emit some carbon. This is mostly due to the fact that they systems require a pump – often electrically powered – and a back-up conventional tank to ensure adequate hot water supply.
- Tankless Water Heaters rank second because they offer both less energy consumption and convenience. In order to notice energy and greenhouse gas emission savings, it is important to keep energy use constant (suddenly using your Jacuzzi after installing a new tankless system). But, if the hot water usage is kept the same, carbon emissions will be 50% less.
- Conventional Gas and Electric Water Heaters are the least favorable for environmental friendliness, with electric water heaters being the very least favorable.
Electric water heaters are powered by fossil fuel burning plants with only 30-40% efficiency. The coal or gas used to produce electricity has produced significant amount of greenhouse gas.
For those eco-friendly and cost conscious homeowners, the best choice is the conventional natural gas water heater.