||Hot Water Heaters
The hot water heater in your basement is
nothing more than a water tank with heating
elements surrounded by a thin layer of insulation.
Hot water tanks are very durable, but unfortunately,
they don't last forever. At the first sign
of leaking water, you'll want to replace
your tank and avoid a major problem that
might occur if the leak widens and dumps
gallons of water on your basement floor.
When looking for a quick replacement
heater, consider these items:
- Hot water tanks heat their contents with
electricity, gas, and oil. They are a major
portion of most household utility bills so
compare the prices of the fuels that are
available in your area.
- The capacity of the hot water heater, measured
by first hour heating, should match your
needs. Too small a tank, and your household
will run out of hot water when it is in high
demand; too large and you will waste energy
trying to keep extra water warm all the time.
For two typical people, 30 gallons should
be enough; for a family of four, you'll need
at least 70 gallons. Adjust the size according
to your demands and whether the demand occurs
all within a short period or is spread out
through the day.
- The energy factor or combined annual efficiency
(CAE) indicates the efficiency of water heaters
at heating water and keeping it hot. Higher
numbers are better, with the best electric
units better than 90 (or .90); gas, 65.
- Look at the warranty period for the tank
and parts. To prolong the life of the tank,
manufacturers use a variety of different
materials to protect against minerals and
elements in the water. Rather than trying
to sort out the various claims, see how long
the manufacturer will stand behind his product.
It should be both a measure of the manufacturer's
confidence and a reasonable expectation of
the minimum life of the tank.
As an alternative to the standard hot water
heater, consider an instantaneous or on demand unit. These units heat the water when it is needed
by using an extremely hot electric or gas
element rather than holding it in a preheated
tank. Gas units with electric ignition eliminate
the pilot light and may cut your gas consumption