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3 Questions About Hot Water Heaters

Homeowners have a lot of questions about hot water heaters. The 3 main ones we get all the time are: When should I replace mine? How can I prolong the life of mine? And finally, tank or tankless?


hot water heaters

When Should You Replace Your Hot Water Heater?

Hot water tanks whether they are gas or electric should be replaced every 10 years. The date the tank was manufactured can be found in the serial number. This may vary in different brands so consult the manufacturer`s website. I always tell our clients to start saving at the eight-year mark because that is when most tanks warranties run out. I have seen them fail as early as eight years but I have seen them last as long as twenty. Basically, when they get past ten years they are on borrowed time. I have been asked which hot water tank lasts the longest, In my experiences I rarely see a Rheem fail early and those relics that make it to the 20-year mark are always Rheem.

One thing to keep in mind is if you decide to wait until the tank fails then you run there are risks. Those risks are having it go on a weekend when labour is more expensive, possibly having to wait a day or two for the plumber to show up or even worse while you are on vacation. I have noticed that tanks tend to fail more in the winter time. My theory is that the city water is extra cold causing the tank to work harder and everyone is inside more. There is nothing worse than losing a hot water heater on or around the Christmas Holidays.

How Can You Make Your Hot Water Heaters Last Longer

There are a couple steps a homeowner can take to prolong the life of their hot water heaters. Run the thermostat at 140F is a simple one. Test the water with a thermometer to make sure it’s the right temperature. The next is to annually flush the tank,  turn off the heat source, attach a hose to the bottom boiler drain and run fresh water through until the water runs clear. If you don`t feel 100% comfortable doing this please contact your local plumber. Any maintenance performed on a tankless heater should also be done by a qualified professional as well. At Boundary Bay Mechanical we include this with our Annual Heating Equipment Service Package.

Tank or Tankless

There is a lot of debate as to whether tanks or tankless hot water heaters should be installed. There is no simple answer. It totally depends on the needs of the household. I will break it down very simply, I recommend a tank if The homeowner plans on moving in less than 8 years, The house is a rental property, There are 3 or fewer people living in the household, the mechanical room is in the center of the house making converting the venting difficult.

The cases in which I recommend a tankless heater are: New construction, lack of storage space, homeowner plans on living in the house for more than ten years, 5 or more occupants in house (definitely if there are one or more suites) and of course environmental concerns as a tank-less is 40% more efficient than a tank. Tankless is a more expensive installation but there are lots of rebates to be had and they will pay for themselves in the long run.

I hope this sheds some light on the world of water heaters. If you have any questions please contact the pro`s at Boundary Bay Mechanical