Frequently Asked Questions

If you have questions about your water heater browse through our FAQ's below to find an answer. You can also check out our common water heater problems & solutions section (on the right hand side of the page - click on a question). These are answers for the most common problems customers call us about. If you don't find the answer to your question or if you need more information call to speak with one of our friendly water heater experts 24 hours a day at 1-866-946-7842
 

Why is the pipe on the side of my water heater leaking?

Most likely you are refering to the overflow pipe attached to the temperature relief valve on the water heater. This is a safety valve and helps relieve excess temperature and pressure inside the water heater in case of high pressure or an overheated water heater. Occasionaly this pipe will "blow off a little steam" and there will be no problem with your water heater, but if it leaks frequently or continuously there may be a problem. Call and speak with one of our water heater experts and they can help determine if you have a problem. 

I have no hot water and why won't my pilot light?

The most common reason a pilot won't light, is a bad thermocouple or a faulty part inside the water heater. When this occurs most of the time a simple repair will fix the problem. See our No Hot Water Page for a video on how to light your pilot or possible trouble shooting ideas.

Why is there a water leak under my water heater?

Water heaters tend to leak for a few reasons. Most often the internal tank has a crack and is broken or there is a leak at a fitting or part connected to the water heater. First check to see if you can tell where the water is coming from. Look at the top of the water heater and see if it is wet or if one of the water connectors is dripping, a leak like this can usually be repaired. If you do not see any visible leaks,  but water is pooling around the bottom of the heater this is a sign the water heater has gone bad. See our Leaking Water Heater page for additional information regarding a leaking water heater.

Why do I not get enough hot water or as much hot water as I used to?

If you have an older water heater, you might have a sediment buildup problem inside your tank. As a water heater ages, it tends to accumulate sediment and deposits at the bottom. If the water heater is not cleaned periodically, the sediment may rise to a level that will act as a barrier between the burner and the water, making it harder to heat, thus giving you less hot water. There could also be a problem with a faulty part or a bad dip tube in the water heater. Also see our Not Enough Hot Water page for more information regarding not getting enough hot water.

How long does a water heater take to fully heat up?

Generally about 45 mintues. If your water heater has been turned off or if you have just had a new unit installed it will take approximately 45 minutes to heat the water up. Each water heater varies in recovery depending on the gallon capacity and BTU input, but if after about 1 hour there is still no hot water then the unit is not working properly. Gas water heaters recover quicker than electric water heaters, but either way you should not have to wait more than about 1 hour for a water heater to fully heat and produce hot water.

What type of water heater do I have?

I found my model number on the water heater but I can't find it on the website, how can I tell what type of water heater I have? Model numbers can change as a result of implementing new technology, updated parts, or any new manufacturer guidelines. If you are having a hard time finding information about your model of water heater, give us a call and one of our experts can probably tell you all about it.

Why does my water heater make a "rumbling" noise?

The noise described as "rumbling" usually is the sound of expanding heated water escaping from sediment at the bottom of a tank. This situation is not dangerous but it is a sign that the water heater has lost much of it's efficiency. As sediment builds up, more and more heat is lost up the chimney and less gets into your water. The overheating of the bottom of the tank also shortens the life of the tank and can lead to the failure of the water heater.

Can I clean sediment from my heater?

Some areas are notorious for "bad" water and in these areas flushing the water heater can extend it's life and save on energy costs. Once sediment is allowed to build up and solidify it can be almost impossible to remove from residential model heaters. Sediment is similar to coral. To prevent this solidification a homeowner can flush the heater periodically.

Why does it take so long to get hot water at my tap or shower?

Waiting a long time at the faucet for hot water to arrive is usaully due to the plumbing in the home. When the hot water leaves the water heater is has to travel through the piping to reach the faucet. If you have a ranch style home or a large home sometimes these "plumbing runs" can be long and it takes a while for the hot water to arrive. Recirculation systems are a good solution to this problem. Call and speak with one of our water heater experts to get more information on a recirculation system that would work for your home.  

Is there a way to get water faster at my shower or kitchen?

Often "ranch style" homes in particular have very long runs of piping between the water heater and the furthest fixtures. It is common for us to create a loop in a system like this by placing a tee fitting where a 90 degree elbow is removed out under that furthest bathroom and then running a return line back to the water heater location. In this loop we install a circulating pump with a temperature control device and then insulate the entire loop. This system adds a little volume to your standing hot water reserve and saves on water since water doesn't have to run so long to heat up. The control can also have a timing device which activates the circulating system only during a time period when you typically shower or use the dishwasher, thus saving the cost of running 24/7.

Are drain pans under a water heater recommended?

In some locations sheet metal pans are required and in other situations they are highly recommended. You can guess the situations where water leakage could do the most damage. Water heaters located in interior closets or attics can become a nightmare. Too often we hear of a slow leak from either a pressure and temperature relief valve "popping off" or a tank failure going completely undetected until the day when someone notices hardwood flooring starting to buckle in the dining or bedroom adjacent to the small closet with the water heater. We suggest thinking twice before going without a pan drained to a safe place outside the home. 

How soon can you get to our home/business?

Often we are at the job site within a few hours of your initial phone call for service. Of course we can also schedule to be there at just about any time that works for you .Our technicians leave our warehouses fully loaded with the most common sizes of water heaters and most every conceivable part and travel from job to job, ensuring we can get your water heater operating again as quickly as possible.

My home water pressure is 90 lbs. per square inch, is this a good thing?

I'm afraid not. The legal limit is almost always 80lb for good reason. People often think they want the highest pressure possible, the higher the better. Actually, I suggest that you want good volume which is a little different. Volume comes from properly sized piping. Too high of pressure is very hard on plumbing fixtures and creates unwanted noise. Solenoid valves that operate dishwashers and washing machines are expensive and not designed for this pressure. Even the typical toilet ball-cock valve can't take the excess pressure and will often need replacing prematurely. Our technicians can check your pressure and install a PRV (pressure reducing valve) usually without much trouble.

There is a "gizmo" at the top of the heater (or in the hot water piping) which has a drain that expels water now and then; is that normal?

That "gizmo" is probably your pressure and temperature relief valve. When it expels water we call it "popping off". It typically has a setting of 150 lbs or 210 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that any higher pressure or temperature will open it's spring loaded mechanism and release water thus making a safer situation for you. These valves are mandatory by law, without them you could get into a dangerous situation. It sounds like your relief valve is working to relieve either too high of pressure or temperature. Does your water seem too hot? Usually pressure is the issue. The most common situation like yours occurs when a home has a closed system; this means that once water comes into your house it is locked in. In some areas, especially in hilly areas water companies often give people at the bottom of a hill higher pressure in order to get an acceptable pressure at the top of the hill. Sometimes your water supplier raises the pressure to get more water for new construction in your area. Water loses almost 1/2 pound of pressure for every foot it goes up. In order for the people at the top of the hill to have 50lb of pressure those at the bottom might have 100lb. The legal limit is typically 80lb; many plumbing fixtures are not designed for any more than 80lb of pressure. Sometimes a noise problem can occur with higher pressure. These homes and sometimes all homes in a community are required to have a pressure reducing valve. Which is exaclty as it's name suggests, it takes water in at a "higher inlet pressure and reduces that pressure and maintains that lower pressure regardless of higher inlet pressures or increased demand". This valve is what creates the "closed" system; once water goes through this valve it cannot go back out. Another factor that could create your valve expelling water is that water expands when heated and cannot be compressed. This means that if you have 50 gallons of water in your system at 45 degrees Fahrenheit and you heat it to 120 degrees Fahrenheit; it expands - it must go somewhere and if it can't get out through the pressure reducing valve it must get out elsewhere. An expansion tank can help in this situation; and in some communities "air chambers" are required. The water expelled can be a nuisance; if so you might want a technician to see what can be done to stop your valve from "popping off".

At times I hear noises like water dripping into a hot skillet coming from my water heater; do I have a problem?

A gas water heater uses approximately 10 parts of air for every part of gas to create complete combustion and with that air comes moisture. That moisture can be put into droplets as it condensates going up a cold "chimney". In short, that sizzling noise is normal at those times when you put high demand on your water heater and particularly when the heater is in a cold environment or on a brand new heater just fired up with a full tank of cold water. If you hear dripping constantly or see a puddle under the water heater, that could be the sign of a probelm, give us a call and we can try to help determine that with you.

What are ways to conserve on hot water heating?

The most common ways that come to mind are: Change out that 3" diameter shower head dad got for father's day with a low flow model. Believe it or not some energy saving types actually clean soap off better than the old water guzzler while they conserve energy (or allow you to stay in the shower longer!). Turn the controls to the pilot position while gone on vacation or for any extended period of time. Try turning the temperature setting down little by little until it bothers you. A heater will save energy costs and last longer if it is fired up less. Flushing the heater periodically can keep sediment from building up and solidifying. Coral like sediment keeps the heat from transferring into the water as efficiently so over time more heat gets wasted up the chimney. Covering all exposed hot water piping, especially under your home with 3/4" foam insulation will save energy and perhaps give you more usable hot water. Some people would suggest that you encourage your teenagers to move out but we wouldn't dare do that.

Can a water heater be moved to make more usable space?

We commonly relocate water heaters, most often to metal enclosures made just for that purpose. People love to free up space for other things. With housing construction costs at over $200 per square foot a person could say that your interior closet space if it is 3' x 4' would be worth about $2400. An enclosure outside can be a money saving move. Many people also feel safer with the water heater outside, where if it leaks the chance of water damage is minimized.

What can I do when a new "fatter" energy saving water heater won't fit in the space where my old one is now?

This is the perfect time to relocate the new heater to an enclosure outside. They make metal enclosures or "sheds" specially designed for water heaters. You can relocate your water heater to the outside in one of these "sheds" and free up storage space in your home.

Are tankless or "on demand" water heaters a good alternative?

It depends on you and your situation. Tankless water heaters cost a considerable amount more than conventional heaters in general, but they may save you in energy costs. Tankless water heaters will save you space and can free up space in your home for other uses. Some units only adequately supply one or two fixtures operating simultaneously so a home might require a large unit or more than one tankless water heater. If you are considering the installation of a large sitting bath or similar fixture it might be a good choice or if you are interested in creating more free space it might be a good alternative. Often they require a larger gas line and the flue piping must be changed. Do your research and make sure a tankless is right for your household before you make your purchase, see our Tankless Water Heater page for additional details.

I've heard of anodes, what are they and are they important?

Anodes are "sacrificial" rods which hang down inside the tank from the top. Yes, they are important. Without them the tank might last only a year or two. Some people go to the trouble of changing anodes every five years or so which can extend the life of the heater almost indefinitely. Some water heaters have twice the protection of others and not necessarily at a higher price, a good quality anode rod can make a difference in the life of your unit.

Is one brand of water heater better than another?

There is no simple answer. Over the past 43 years we have purchased all major brands by the truckload at one time or another and have a good feel for quality. Sometimes a brand will improve in quality or slip a little and we act accordingly. Due to changes in construction often mandated by government energy laws models have changed frequently and with the new technology can come some problems which often need to be worked out. We continually assess the market for the best quality water heater to provide to our customers and sometimes recommend a certain brand based on the homeowners needs and climate the water heater will be in. Bradford White is our top choice for residential storage water heaters, they offer a quality product line and made in the USA products.

What considerations do you suggest when sizing a replacement water heater?

Several factors we suggest looking at are: Is your need for hot water growing, staying about the same, or diminishing? Is it possible that your heater seemed undersized due to a build-up of sediment in the bottom? Are you planning on moving in the near future and if so what size might a prospective buyer expect in your size home? Does it ruin your day when you run out of hot water or is it just a minor inconvenience? Are you willing to space your shower and laundry usage to avoid running out of hot water? How important is energy conservation to you?

What does the Energy Factor (EF) of a water heater mean?

The water heater Energy Factor or EF is a measure of the overall efficiency of the water heater. This is determined by comparing the energy in the heated water used daily to the total daily energy consumption of the water heater. The energy factor can be used to compare the energy efficiency of water heaters. Water heaters with higher EFs will have lower annual operating costs than comparable models with lower EFs. A higher EF signifies a more efficient model. Water heaters with high EF ratings may cost more initially, but will save energy and money in the long run. They can often pay for themselves through a lifetime of energy savings. 

Do I need a blanket on my water heater?

Good question, most of the newly designed gas water heaters draft their combustion air via holes in the side or bottom of the water heater and having a blanket wrapped around the water heater can cause combustion problems and may be a fire hazard. In addition, most gas water heaters have been upgraded with an extra layer of insulation on the inside of the tank, to eliminate the need for a blanket on your water heater. Electric water heaters are the exception, most electric water heaters are already highly efficient, but you can use a water heater blanket on an electric water heater. Depending on your climate and where in the home the electric water heater is the blanket should help save a little on your energy usage.

Where is the "dip tube" located on my water heater?

The dip tube is another name for the cold water inlet. If you are facing the front of the water heater (where the labels are), the cold water inlet or dip tube is generally on the cold water input on the right hand side of the water heater. This "dip tube" allows the cold water to travel to the bottom of the water heater to be heated and not mix with the hot water at the top of the water heater, so there is a supply of hot water ready for use.

What is the FHR (first hour rating) on a water heater?

The first hour rating on a water heater is the total amount of water that a water heater will produce in an hour of usage. This is usually a combination of the tank capacity / gallons plus the amount of water the water heater can reheat in a one hour time period.

Why does my hot water smell bad? Is that dangerous?

Usually when a water heater produces smelly water, it relates to the mineral compound in the water supply reacting with the inside of the water heater. Depending on the chemical content of your water sometimes a water heater can produce "smelly water" the combined presence of hydrogen, sulfur, and bacteria cause foul smelling water, sometimes even that "rotten egg smell". The magnesium anode rod installed in the tank protects the tank surface but generates enough hydrogen to create an odor when it interacts with sulfur in the water or bacteria in the tank. Replacing the magnesium anode rod with another type of anode may alleviate the problem. The most efficient method of eliminating the hydrogen sulfide odor is to control the bacteria. As a rule, chlorination of public water supplies kills the bacteria, but some private well systems may need to be purified to destroy the bacteria. Most often it is not a dangerous situation, but as a precaution we recommend you contact you water supplier or a water heater professional regarding smelly or discolored water. 

What is thermal expansion?

When water is heated it expands, and creates thermal expansion in a water heater. Thermal expansion is based on a physics law, but here we will give a brief easy explanation as it pertains to water heaters. When the water inside your water heater is heated it expands and creates extra volume, this extra volume needs someplace to go. Before the introduction of "cross control" or a closed plumbing system, this extra expansion or volume was able to "push" the water supply back towards the city water supply and relieve the expansion. Since the water supplies have now been closed (once the water enters your pipes in can not flow back to the city supply) there is nowhere for the expansion to go it will either wear on the inside of your water heater or sometimes it finds a way out through your temperature and pressure relief valve. The relief valve is designed as a safety valve to release water when the tank has too much pressure or the temperature is too high. The valve is not designed to take on the daily work of relieving thermal expansion and this can shorten the valves life and possibly the life of your water heater. If you have a closed loop plumbing system it is best to have a thermal expansion bottle installed to ensure this issue is addressed correctly. In some cases expansion bottles are now required by code and must be installed with a new water heater.

What is the best water heater for me to purchase?

There are many options for water heaters when it comes time for a replacement. The most important factor in choosing a water heater really depends on your household, your future water demands and how long you plan to stay in your current home. With tankless, condensing and storage units available these days it's important to know your options in water heating to make sure you are buying the best unit to suit your needs. Sometimes a simple storage replacement is best, but other times spending a little more for a higher efficient water heater is better in the long run. We suggest you do a little research and check out your options before making a final purchase.

end faq

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