How do Know if Your Water Heater is About to BURST?

Both tank and tankless water heaters tend to fail eventually due to usage strain, damage or normal wear and tear. In fact, even with proper annual maintenance, a typical water heaters lasts anywhere from 8 to 10 years. Fortunately, a failing hot water heater will typically show signs of failure. Some of the common water heater failure signs include:

The Unit’s Age

The average lifespan of a typical water heater is about 10 years. This means that if you know the age of your tank, you can replace it before it breaks and avoid potentially expensive water damage. What’s more, a new hot water heater will likely be more energy efficient than your old water heater, meaning it will lower your heating costs. You can tell the age of your unit by looking at the date code on the manufacturer sticker/tag. Alternatively, you can request the unit’s manufacturer to provide you with this information.

Rusty, Brown Hot Water

If the water coming from your water tank is rusty but the water coming from the cold side is clean and crisp, you can sure that your hot water system is going to fail soon due to corrosion. This is because corrosion will eat through your hot water tank or hot water pipes, leading to a water leak. To determine whether the corrosion is in the tank or the piping, leave your hot water tap running for a while. If the rusty, brown water does not stop coming out of the tap, then the corrosion is likely in your hot water tank, not the piping. On the other than, if the rusty water stops coming out from the hot water tap after a while, then the corrosion is in the piping, not the tank.

Strange Noises

If you water heater is making a strange noise such as loud pops, banging or rumbling, it may be a sign of sediment buildup on the bottom of the tank. If this is the case, you can expect your heater to become energy inefficient, meaning it will use more electricity and take longer to heat water, increasing your heating bills. In turn, this will cause your water heater to wear out faster. Similarly, if your tankless water heater is making strange noises, it means it is not operating at it should.

Water around the Water Heater

This is probably the most clear sign that you heater will fail soon. However, before you replace your water, ensure the water leak is not coming from the connections or fittings to the tanks. While at it, ensure the pressure/temperature overflow pipe is dry, too. If the leak is coming from the tank, you should replace the tank as soon as possible because metal expands when heated, meaning the leak is likely to escalate quickly. At this point, it is worth noting that water leaks can easily damage the components of a tankless hot water heater, meaning you should address them as quickly as possible.

Conclusion

On average, water heaters, including water heaters that provide hot water on demand, have a 10-year lifespan. Some of the signs that your water heater will fail soon include the unit’s age, water around the water heater, strange noises and rusty hot water.

How to remove air from your boiler system

Having air in your boiler system, also known as a hydronic heating system, is among the most common issues that you’ll get with a boiler. But the first issue you need to resolve is why you are having an air issue in the first place.

It’s normal, when you first commission a system, to get a little bit of an air issue. The reason behind this is that new water (H2O, the O part of it being oxygen), when introduced, has a significant portion of air in it. However, over time the air is slowly removed with automatic air vents, and/or an air scrubber. So, the very best type of water in your boiler system is actually dead oxygen-free water, which takes a period of time to accomplish.

The question is if your system is not new, if it is years old, and it’s developing an air issue, what causes that? One of the most common causes of it is a leak somewhere in your system, and new water is being replaced into the system, and with that new water comes new air. Another common cause is if you have a certain kind of piping system, commonly known as a polybutylene piping system, or a poly-b piping system, that absorbs air from the walls of the pipe. This type of piping system was banned back in about 2000.

The minor negative effect of having air in a boiler system is that it can make zones stop working. A major negative effect of having air in the system is that it can damage almost everything in the system and can make things rust out. This is because mixing air and water together causes non-ferrous or rustable metals to get destroyed. That often means the boiler itself will get destroyed. Boilers and boiler components rely on the fact that there is virtually no air left in the system and that allows them to not rust away.

So, as long as you’ve addressed the reason of why there is air in the system, getting the air out of the system can either be a simple thing or a complex thing. The first thing to look for is up on the radiators against the wall. Sometimes at one or either end you’ll see a little slotted screwdriver port. If you put a screwdriver in there and turn it about a quarter turn, it can open up, releasing the air.

At that point in time you must be sure that the air bleeds out and not a lot of water bleeds out, and that you turn the port back down so that water no longer comes out, as this can cause damage to your home. Releasing a little bit of air is often enough to unblock a zone from circulating water. That’s essentially what happens. Zones get blocked from water passing through because there is air trapped in the zone at a high point.

The more complicated way to get air out of a system to physically force it out and flush it out, with new fresh water. This is more complicated than it seems as it requires the boiler to be shut off, and certain shut offs to be turned off on the boiler system, to force the water through the exact zone that you want the water forced through. If it comes to that point, unless you are a HVAC technician, I would suggest that you call a company. There are many ways that you can damage your system at this point in time by doing the wrong thing.

Will a Tankless Water Heater Save You Money in Seattle?

A question people often ask us is: in the Seattle area, is it worth it to buy a “tankless” hot water heater (also known as a “hot water on demand”), or an instantaneous hot water heater?

It’s a great question to ask, and the answer differs depending on what area of the country you live in. If you live in any of the northern states which have colder ground water temperatures, including Washington State, you are on average, going to spend more money on heating the hot water in your house compared to people who live in southern states.

The reason for this is that before going into the tank or the tankless, ground water is colder, and therefore the water heater has to work harder to raise the temperature in your tank or tankless. A conventional gas hot water tank has an approximate AFUE rating of around 55%. What this means is that for every $100 of fuel that you spend, on average, you will lose about 45 cents going up your chimney. Not a great value.

Tankless water heaters, which are the most high-efficient, can get up to 97% efficiency, or AFUE, meaning that for every $100 that you spend on fuel, you’re only going to lose about 3 cents up your chimney. The other 3% of potential efficiency is almost impossible to capture. If it were, there would be zero heat left to carry the flue gases away in the steam as it leaves the appliance.

At the time of writing this blog post, the average family of four in the Seattle area will pay up to about $500 in fuel per year to heat their gas hot water tank. Comparatively, a tankless water heater will use approximately $225 of fuel. Over the course of one year, it doesn’t add up to much, but if you spread that over the average 10-15 year life of a hot water tank, it can add up to $2000 or $3000.

A secondary difference is that after 10-15 years a conventional tank will break. However, a tankless could last you up to 30 years, paying for itself a couple of times over.

I would say what matters more is the timeframe that you’re going to live in the house. If you’re planning on moving out in the next year, getting a tankless, or a hot water on demand, is probably not going to be good value. If you’re going to be in the house for a longer period of time, then you will save plenty of money by buying a tankless.

Advantages Of Tankless Water Heater

People in Seattle ask us: is it better to put in a tankless water heater or a hot water tank in the area? Hot water tanks and tankless hot water heaters have different advantages and disadvantages.

Pros and Cons

The Pacific North-West, in the Seattle area specifically, has relatively inexpensive utility rates for gas. So, even though, there is less potential money to save for tankless, there is still a strong case to be made for putting in a tankless water heater instead of putting in a hot water tank.

The main advantage of a tankless hot water heater is also another commonly known name for ‘tankless’ which is hot water ‘on demand’. The advantage is: the water never ends. You can literally keep the taps running forever and it will never run out. However, the flip side of that advantage is that you are limited to the total number of taps that you can be running.

The thing specific to the Seattle area, or the northern States is that the ground water is colder, so the hot water on demand is limited to the amount of hot water it can produce by the temperature of the water coming in. So, if you live in the southern states, let’s say California, a small hot water on demand can produce many, many, many taps running simultaneously. In the Pacific northwest, or the Seattle area, you are probably limited to about three, or maximum four running simultaneously, which sounds like a lot: dishwasher, shower, somebody washing their hands, somebody doing the laundry, but if you have a basement suite, or multiple suites, that’s where it can get more complex because you don’t know what everyone in the house is doing at the same time.

On the flip side of that, hot water tanks don’t have that problem. So, you can run ten things running in the house simultaneously, but the difficulty is: it will run out relatively quick. The other advantage of a hot water tank versus a tankless hot water heater is that they are much less expensive. So, you can have one for, sometimes, one quarter of the price, but the downside is they do run out of water and they usually, between 10 and 15 years in this area, will break. A hot water heater is designed to be kept for years, and years and years, possibly 25 or 30 years, depending on, if there is hardness in the water or other things that could damage tankless. Instead of throwing the tankless away, you would repair it along the way, similar to a furnace.

The Verdict

So, in a nutshell, I would say, if you should get a hot water on demand or tankless depends on your circumstances. So, if you have a large house, with lots of people on multiple basement suites, I would suggest you just use either multiple tankless or a very big hot water tank. If you live in a normal size house, with less occupants, and not multiple suites, I would say a tankless could work great for you.

There are also multiple ways that you could put a tank or tankless into your home. So, one way is to just get a subscription: don’t pay anything for the tank upfront, get a monthly subscription for the unit, and you can have a reduced gas bill that offsets a large chunk of the cost of having it installed. Either way, give us a call!

What Is “Hot Water On Demand”?

There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what a hot water on demand can do or can’t do. One of the biggest myths is one of the names that a hot water on demand was previously called. It used to be referred to commonly as an “instantaneous hot water heater”. The problem with that is people would think that it would instantaneously be coming out of their taps. That is a major myth and a major misperception about what a hot water on demand does.

The Myth Vs. The Truth

So, normally, when you have a hot water tank, you have to clear the pipes of the cold water between the hot water tank and whatever tap you’re running it from. So, if the tap is quite close to the hot water tank, you can have it to the tap within seconds. If it’s a long distance away, it could take a minute to clear the cold water out, and heat the pipe up, and deliver the hot water. In no circumstance will a hot water on demand speed up that process with the exception of installing some alternative piping arrangements that can make the hot water get to your tap faster. So, if you take out a tank and put in a hot water on demand without any piping modifications, the hot water will then need to be heated and then get to your tap. So, at bare minimum, it’s probably going to add about 10 seconds to get to your tap.

Buffer Tanks

There are technologies built into some hot water on demands that shorten that timeframe–technologies called buffer tanks and other technologies can help how long it takes to get to your tap. The only real way to eliminate the time it takes for the hot water to get to your tap is by installing a circulation pump, but it’s not as simple as installing a pump – you actually need to run a water line from the farthest point in your house all the way back to your hot water on demand, and that water needs to circulate during the times when you’re most likely to run it or it needs to circulate 24 hours per day.

So, the big myth is hot water on demand will get to your tap any faster than your hot water tank is usually doing. Another misperception about hot water on demand is that they will run and feel exactly the same way as your old hot water tank did. The truth is they won’t.

Pros & Cons

The advantage of hot water on demand is that they will save you lots of money on utilities and they will last way, way longer compared to a tank, but there is some down sides to them. You’re also limited by how many taps that you can run simultaneously. So, in the Seattle area, with the groundwater being colder than other parts of the country, you’re limited to three or four taps running simultaneously. In other areas of the country, you can run much more simultaneously because the groundwater is warm.

These myths about hot water on demand would indicate that we’re trying to steer you away from them. The truth is we’re not, but people should get one knowing exactly what the advantages and disadvantages are.