The truth is that every home has a water heater of some sort. Whether it’s gas, electric, or tankless, in your basement, crawlspace, utility room or attic, single or multiple unit setups, water heaters are essential to everyday comfort. Water heaters come in a variety of sizes (capacities) and designs and have several applications. But they all perform the same function, which is to efficiently provide you with hot water for all of your plumbing needs. Like any other plumbing fixtures, water heaters don’t last forever, and will eventually need replacing.
In the Atlanta area, gas water heaters are the most common type found in residential plumbing applications. They use a small flow of natural gas to ignite a burner assembly at the bottom of the heater inside a combustion chamber, heating the water inside the tank above it. Gas water heaters are popular because of their relatively low price, high efficiency, and good lifespan (about 8-14 years average).
They have a fairly fast recovery rate (the speed at which the water inside the tank reheats itself after being completely depleted) and can be preset to temperatures as high as 130 degrees Fahrenheit. They divert the heat generated by the combustion chamber through the flu, or vent pipe at the top of the heater. This vent pipe usually joins into the vent system for the home’s heating and air unit. Sizes for gas water heaters range from the standard 40 gallons, all the way up to large residential and commercial size units exceeding 100 gallons. We install and service them all, repairing the vent pipes, gas control valve, burner assemblies, and gas lines. We install several water heaters every week and are very familiar with service options about your particular plumbing needs for hot water.
Electric water heaters use electrical current driven through one or more thermostats to heat one or more elements. These are composed of a mixture of conductive metals. The thermostat controls the elements, heating the water to a pre-specified temperature. This temperature is adjustable. However, we recommend that you do not attempt to adjust it due to the risk of electric shock.
The water heaters come with the thermostats already set to standard temperatures. These thermostats and elements often fail, and that’s where we come in. We can replace individual components of the heater, or install a complete new unit for you, hooking up both the waterlines and the electrical components. Electric water heaters have a slightly slower recovery rate than gas-fired units, and as such are not quite as popular. But in homes that have no gas appliances, it’s nice to know you can still have hot water at your leisure. Electric water heaters come in sizes ranging from 30 gallons up to and exceeding 75 gallons, with a larger variety of dimensional options than gas heaters.
Tankless water heaters are a still new in the U.S., has been extremely popular in Japan and Europe for some years now due to the limited space in homes across the seas. They are significantly smaller than normal water heaters, averaging about the size of a small suitcase. Due to their smaller dimensions, installation options are much more varied, as the units can get installed nearly anywhere.
And if there is no convenient location in your home for a tankless water heater, they can be mounted on an exterior wall. Tankless water heaters differ from conventional units in several ways, most notably being the absence of a storage tank, hence the name. A tankless heater uses a combination of gas and electricity to ignite a small burner within the unit and heat the water as it passed through the maze of piping inside the casing. Because there is no supply of previously heated (a full tank) water ready to feed the home, the time to get hot water to a faucet is longer with a tankless setup. However, once the water reaches the fixture, it is endless. Yes, ENDLESS. That is the major benefit of tankless systems. You can fill up a 100-gallon tub without ever running out of hot water, or you can run several showers simultaneously, or even run the dishwasher while washing a load of clothes, all without ever losing hot water or water volume. Standard water heaters have an output of roughly 2.5 gallons per minute, or GPM, while tankless units are as high as 8.5 GPM. There is even a digital keypad that comes with the unit to adjust the temperature.
There are three issues to consider before having a tankless system installed, however. First is the price. Tankless systems cost roughly 3 to 4 times as much as a conventional water heater, and the installation costs run 3 to 4 times as much also. Second, venting a tankless system can be a tricky thing. Tankless units produce up to 199,000 BTUs of heat, compared to a standard heater’s 38,000. Because of this fact, tankless systems have to be vented directly outside, separate from the HVAC system. To avoid putting a 6-foot hole on your wall (the vent size of a tankless unit), outdoor setup are also available. The third issue is the fact that tankless units must be fed with a larger supply of gas than a standard water heater, requiring a 3/4″ gas line as opposed to 1/2″ lines found on tank-type units. This upgrade can be an expensive addition to the already higher cost of the tankless installation if no 3/4″ gas line is present or near the heater. Tankless water heaters can be an excellent upgrade to your home, enhancing your hot water supply and increasing your home’s resale value. We install both types of systems (indoor and outdoor) and are familiar with service requirements for each.