Near the end of the average water heater’s lifespan, you might see signs that yours is on the way out. We’ve seen every stage in the life cycle in our day; M&K has over 35 years of experience installing water heaters in the Vancouver, St. Thomas, and Mount Brydges Areas.
If you think it might be time for a new water heater, read on to find out what you should look for in a new water heater.
How to Tell You Need a New Water Heater
When the burner is on, but it’s not keeping the tank full of hot water, that could be a sign something is wrong. When it comes to gas burner heating, a problem with the burner could be a natural gas hazard, so you should call your utility company immediately — if you smell gas, or if you suspect a problem with the proper burning or flow of the gas.
Pilot Light is Orange Instead of Blue
Many heaters have a thumbnail-sized window to show the status of the pilot light’s flame. If the flame is orange instead of blue, that means there could be a carbon monoxide hazard, which is very dangerous for the lungs in enclosed spaces. You should call your utility company for advice on how to deal with this issue safely.
Many water authorities add calcium to the water supply. Water with calcium in it can form flakes in the water, making it murky, and eventually, it can rust water tanks out in the long term. A tank that bursts because the tank’s lining has rusted out can be both dangerous and damaging. If there’s calcium in water, it’s on a water hardness scale, and if not it’s called soft water.
Vancouver has hard water, and St. Thomas has very hard water. You can expect some serious rusting inside a traditional water tank without steady maintenance. Older water tanks need draining every year. If the water comes out with lots of white flakes and rust particles, it might be time to get a new water heater.
Rusted Anode Rod
If you want to keep the tank from rusting from the inside, replacing a small part could help. An anode is a long rod screwed into the tank’s interior. It’s engineered to attract the calcium in hard water and rusts in place of the interior wall — like a lightning rod attracts lightning. If the anode rod is rusted through, it could lead to rusting in your water heater’s tank.
When to Go With Tank or Tankless Water Heaters
There used to be little choice for households looking to replace their home’s water heater. Now there are two major categories for water heaters: tank and tankless. Tank water heaters are the traditional option for North American homes, whereas Europe and some parts of Asia have been using tankless water heating for decades.
Tank Water Heaters
Tank water heaters are the old standard, and your home might be well set up for another one. If that’s the case, you might have an easy install depending on the size of your utilities room or space. It can get expensive to switch, so you should consider the pros and cons of each.
- Easy to install.
- Standby heat loss: the tank is always heating water, even when you're not running it.
- Lag time: the tank needs time to move hot water from the outflow valve all the way to the hot water tap, and this process can take up to a few minutes.
- Rust from hard water.
- Difficult to maintain and repair.
- Limited tot water.
Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters are small, compact units. They typically last longer, and they heat water as needed, so they don’t need to be turned off if you leave your house for extended periods of time.
- Near-instant hot water.
- Provide an unlimited supply of hot water.
- Little to no flood risk for water tank rupture; lower flood risk means lower house insurance premiums.
- Take up far less space than a water tank.
- Use less energy (which means lower heating bills).
- Can be more expensive than tank models, depending on multiple factors.
- More difficult to install, especially if your current water heater is a tank model.
Deciding Between Tank or Tankless
Based on our experience, tankless water heaters are a great option, but a new tank water heater can have many of the same benefits. The peace of mind you get for going tankless is worth it for most mid-sized homes. These models are good to last 20 years with less routine maintenance than a tank model.
With tankless water heaters, there’s much less worry of running out of hot water, and tankless conserves valuable space in your home. You can always get an expert M&K opinion, as each home is different, and tankless gives you the option to customize according to your household needs.