Water Heater Busted? A Quick Buying Guide for This Necessary Appliance 

Plumber Holding Clipboard And PenA warm shower makes a long day at work a little better. We all know the feeling. And while the occasional cold shower can have its benefits, most people would prefer not to be relegated to a cold shower every single night.

Early humans didn’t bathe much. Let’s face it, our hygiene protocols are much better today than they were in 18th century France or the early colonies. We all know many of our predecessors masked body odors through the invention of perfumes and body oils. And while this might have seemed like a good idea, that wouldn’t go over so well in today’s world. It has only been about a century since hot water is treated as a necessity, rather than a luxury. Part of that is thanks to the advent of the hot water heater. 

So where did it all begin?

Let’s explore. 

Hot Showers Before the Hot Water Heater 

It’s possible that a caveman somewhere heated water using fire and splashed his face with it. So while it’s known that since human history, people have used hot baths as a form of cleansing tells us that it’s a natural human inclination to get clean and to do so using warm water. The hot baths in early Roman times speak to the idea as well. 

Before each dwelling had its own individual supply of hot water, things were a little more complicated. When wood and coal were the leading sources of fuel, water was heated in a pot in a kettle or over hot water. As you may imagine, heating enough water for a relaxing hot bath took almost a whole day’s work! No wonder people often passed on it. 

Then, came the time of the water-back. This was an installation in the stove, which used the heat from the stove via convection through a pipe loop and into a storage tank. These early devices were often referred to as range boilers. 

Enter the Industrial Revolution and More Access to Hot Water 

And enter Benjamin Waddy and the year 1868. This forward-thinking engineer filed a patent for an early version of a water heater that used gas. And yet, the device had no method for ventilation and could be a little dangerous due to the potential of creating and leaking carbon monoxide. Engineer Edwin Rudd then came into the picture and created a more viable water heater. As the 20th century loomed in, various companies in the United States got in on the water-heating action and began to develop better options. 

This led to a wide range of research and experimentation when it came to domestic and commercial water heating. Today, we have everything from the tankless water heater to the classic storage heater, and more. 

Considering a Conventional Water Heater?

As plumbing technology evolves, the consumer has more options in terms of the kinds of appliances they install in their homes. And yet even today one of the most widely used types of water heaters includes conventional water heaters or storage tank water heaters. You know it when you see it. 

It consists of a large insulated tank (size varies by gallons). In this tank, the water is heated and stored until it is needed within the home. And while they have relatively stable shelf lives (around 12 years), these traditional storage water heaters do require regular maintenance in order to maximize performance and squeeze out every year of life. 

Before purchasing your water heater consider:

  • What size tank do I need? (storage water heaters come in 20, 30, 40, and even 50 gallons). The rule of thumb is a 30 to 40 gallons heater will comfortably accommodate a two-person household. When you are three to four, you might be better off with a 40-50 gallon. Anything more than 5 might require a 50-80 gallon. 
  • What is your space like? In other words, where is your water heater housed and what sizes can it accommodate?
  • Are you looking for natural gas, electric, or propane? 
  • What should you consider in terms of installation? Does your infrastructure, venting, or gas line need to be updated? 

Thinking about Tankless Water Heaters?

One of the up-and-coming innovations is the more widespread use of tankless water heaters. And while the technology has existed for some decades, it still hasn’t been widely adopted, except in some areas of the country. Tankless water heaters are also called demand-type or instantaneous water heaters. The idea is that they provide water only as it is needed and doesn’t require the wasting of energy to maintain water heated in a storage tank. 

So when you turn your faucet on for a hot shower, cold water flows through the unit and heats up through a gas burner or electric element. In other words, the unit heats up water as it is demanded. 

According to the EPA, homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water a day can reap a 24%-34% energy-efficiency benefit than a conventional storage tank. 

So is this right for you? 

It depends. Questions you may ask yourself include:

  • How much water does my household use a day?
  • Am I willing to put forth the initial investment? (tankless water heaters are a little pricier). Prices range from $200 to $2,00, with the average being around $1,000. 
  • Is it right for my home and the way my home is distributed? Will I need more than one? 

These are all worthy questions. After all, the selling point of a tankless water heater is that it heats up water only when you need it. It doesn’t have gallons and gallons of hot water just sitting around for when you might need it. This saves energy. Energy savings means cash savings. 

A buying guide for a tankless water heater can guide you through more details regarding the appliance and whether it’s right for you. 

Looking for the Right Option for Your Home or Business? Contact C & L Plumbing

Are you looking for new water-heating options? Plumbing technology and innovative equipment mean that as a consumer you have access to great products and appliances. It’s hard to know which one, however. For that, C & L Plumbing is here. 

Call us today and find out more. 


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