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You have a lot to consider when selecting a new water heater for your home. You should choose a water heating system that will not only provide enough hot water but also that will do so energy efficiently, saving you money. This includes considering the different types of water heaters available and determining the right size and fuel source for your home.

Is a new tank needed?

If the old heater is leaking, replace it. That's a straightforward decision. But if it's not leaking, what criteria will help you decide whether or not to keep it? Age alone is not the deciding factor. In fact, older tanks often have the advantage of being more sturdily built. But tanks do deteriorate with age. You will need to inspect the water heater to determine if it is a good candidate to keep and maintain.

Inspect all tank fittings to get more information. Do you see any signs of rusting or leakage? Look into the combustion chamber and the flue of fuel-burning units. (A flashlight and an inspection mirror are a big help.) While slight rust or water marking from condensation are not a problem, heavy rust and water streaks are danger signals. A pile of rusty scale on top of the burner suggests that tainted air has damaged the flue.

Another indicator for both gas and electric heaters is the sacrificial anode rod. (This rod "sacrifices" itself to protect the tank.) Although it can be difficult to remove, the effort is worthwhile, because the anode provides the best clue to conditions inside the tank. The sacrificial metal (magnesium or aluminum) is formed around a steel core wire. Normally, the anode slowly corrodes away to protect the heater from rust. When enough metal has corroded away to expose 6 inches of the core wire, it's time to replace the anode. So if you pull out an anode and find little or no sacrificial metal left, some damage will have occurred in the tank. If your inspection of fittings, combustion chamber, or anode suggests that the tank has undergone substantial damage, replacement is a reasonable choice.

Whether you keep the old heater or replace it, maintain it regularly. This will avoid the cycle of replacement, saving the energy needed to produce new equipment and dispose of the old.

Source: http://www.homeenergy.org/archive/hem.dis.anl.gov/eehem/96/960510.html

Gas Waterheaters

•Quick recovery: Substantially faster than electric so you have the hot water you need, when you need it.

•Lower operating costs: Typically about 50% lower than with electric, and sometimes more. A recent comparison of high-efficiency water heaters showed an annual operating cost of $326 for an electric water heater versus $157 for gas* for annual savings of $169.

•Excellent safety record: Natural gas water heaters have been safely providing hot water in over a million Minnesota homes for years. They stand on their safety record.

•Compact design: Save space in today's already-cramped equipment rooms by using a compact natural gas water heater rather than a larger electric model.

•Installation options: There is a natural gas water heater for every situation whether you are building a new home or simply remodeling.

•Environmentally friendly. Where energy conservation and environmental issues are a primary concern, clean-burning natural gas water heaters are the best way to heat water.

Electric Waterheaters

Water heating accounts for up to 25% of the typical residential energy bill. Electric water heating is the most efficient and low maintenance water heating option available.

•No pilot light

•Easy installation

•Low maintenance

•High life expectancy

•No gas piping or flues

•No combustion or carbon monoxide

•Some efficient electric water heaters are better insulated and will cool off more slowly if the heating elements are unable to operate (e.g., during a power interruption).

Powervent Waterheaters

A power vent water heater is an alternative to standard metal-vent water heaters (gas waterheaters). They can solve venting problems in replacement applications and other useful choices for location of gas water heaters.

These water heaters are designed with side mounted recirculating taps for installations with combination space heating/water heating appliances or any system requiring a recirculating hot water loop.

Visit the waterheater manufactors website for more detailed information.

A.O. Smith
Bradford White
Rinnai Tankless