Answers to 4 Common Water-Heater Questions

Technician Servicing A Hot-water Heater - Seattle, WA - Quality Plumbing

Your home’s water heater probably isn’t something that you think about — until it stops working. Don’t let an avoidable plumbing problem happen to you. Whether you’re a new homeowner, have recently installed a new appliance, or just want to know more about maintenance, take a look at these answers to common water heater questions.


  1. What Type of Water Heater Is the Best Option?

The answer to this question depends on several factors. These include:

  • Preference. Some homeowners prefer the traditional tank type of heater, while others would rather install a tankless or solar model.

  • Budget. If you’re on a tight budget, you can still install a new water heater, but you may need to narrow down your choices based on type. Traditional tank model water heaters tend to cost less than tankless, or on-demand, models.

  • Overall cost. This factor differs from the initial purchase and installation budget. Tankless models are more efficient, costing less over time. If you want to save money long-term, this is the model for you.


Along with these factors, size and installation area also play roles in which type of heater you choose. If you’re not sure which model is right for you, your family, and your home’s needs, your plumber can help you to better understand the options and make the best choice.


  1. What’s the Best Temperature Setting?

Even fans of hot showers have a limit. A setting that’s too high can scald, posing a serious safety risk — especially if you have children. According to the Burn Foundation, more than 500,000 scald burns happen each year across the nation. Children under age 5 and seniors over 65 are most at risk for these serious injuries.


In as little as 15 seconds, 133° water can cause third-degree burns. Water at 156° Fahrenheit can scald in one second. To reduce scald risks, set your water heater’s temperature to 120° Fahrenheit or less.


  1. What Does Water Heater Maintenance Involve?

The answer to this question depends on what type of appliance you have. If you have a traditional tank model, regular care should include:

  • Drain the tank. Draining the water heater’s tank removes sediment. Attach a hose to the tank’s drain valve. Drain at least one-quarter of the water in the tank (drain the tank until the water runs clear). Repeat this care routine a few times per year.

  • Test the temperature relief valve. Discharge the valve a few times at least once a year, looking for leaks. If you’re not sure how to do this, consult a professional plumber first.

  • Call a plumber. Routine maintenance from a professional can extend the life of your appliance and allow you to spot problems before they grow from minor issues to major headaches.

Tankless models are often more challenging to maintain without professional help. Instead of trying to figure out the complexities of your on-demand system, contact a plumber for help with routine care.


  1. How Often Should Homeowners Replace the Water Heater?

Again, the answer to this question depends on several different factors. There’s no standard age for replacement of either tank or tankless models. In general, consider replacing the water heater when:

  • There’s no hot water. Cold water, when you turn on the hot handle, is a sign that something is wrong. If this is a progressive problem, if the unit is old, or if the repair price is more than the appliance is worth, it’s time to replace.

  • There’s a leak. A major leak in a tank heater may indicate corrosion inside. Trying to repair a crack or break in the tank isn’t a long-term fix. Instead, this type of problem typically requires replacement.

  • The appliance is inefficient. An inefficient water heater will cost you over time. An older model paired with rising utility bills usually means it’s time for a new heater.

If it is time for a replacement, you have plenty of options—at many price-points. A plumber can provide you with options, help you to size the new heater to meet your home’s needs, and install the product correctly.


Do you need a new water heater? Contact Quality Plumbing for more information.