You might not spend a lot of time thinking about your home’s water heater — until it stops delivering hot water or breaks down and causes a major flood in your basement.Here are some answers to common questions to help you make the best decisions about when it’s time to repair or replace your home’s water heater. What Are the Different Water Heater Types? There are two basic water heater types: tank and tankless. A traditional tank model stores and preheats water in a tank, which is delivered when someone in your home turns on a hot water faucet or operates an appliance such as a dishwasher or washing machine. A tankless water heater has no storage tank. Instead, as the cold water travels through a pipe, it’s heated by a gas burner or an electric element. Unlike a tank model, a tankless unit can deliver hot water on demand. What Are the Pros and Cons of Each Water Heater Type? Advantages of a traditional tank water heater include a much lower initial installation cost and easier serviceability when something goes wrong. On the downside, a tank heater tends to result in higher utility bills — they heat and reheat water at a predetermined temperature, regardless of your specific needs. However, a smaller tank could lead to your running out of water in the middle of a shower. A tankless water heater’s benefits include a smaller size — due to the absence of a storage tank — which requires less storage space. The on-demand feature eliminates concerns about running out of hot water. Tankless units are also much more energy-efficient than tank versions and typically have a longer lifespan. However, a tankless water heater can cost up to twice as much as a traditional model. It may also require retrofitting, which can significantly increase the installation cost. What Type of Water Heater Do I Need? A tank water heater may be your best option if upfront costs are a concern, although a tankless water heater will be more economical in the long term. Fuel source cost is another consideration — tank heaters can run on natural gas, electricity, oil, propane or solar power, while tankless models only offer a choice between natural gas and electricity. A tankless water heater also makes sense for smaller homes with limited space. What Size Water Heater Should I Buy? Water heater sizes vary widely. If you are purchasing a tank water heater, choose a model with a gallon capacity that conforms to the size of your household. For example, for a home with one or two residents, a 23 - 36 gallon tank is usually sufficient. For larger households of five or more people, you will likely need a gallon capacity of 56 or higher. The best tankless water heater size depends on how much hot water you need at any specific time. Tankless water heater output is based on flow rate and is measured in gallons per minute (GPM). Generally, the more fixtures and appliances you operate at one time, the higher the flow rate capacity you will require from your water heater. How Do I Know When It’s Time to Replace My Water Heater? Age is a key factor when considering a water heater replacement. The life expectancy of a traditional heater is 10-15 years, while a tankless model can last 20 years or longer. Water quality and water treatment can effect this number. Replacing the sacrificial anode rod helps to extend the life of your water heater maximizing your investment. Other indicators of a possible need for replacement include leaks, a longer time for water to get hot, rumbling noises during operation and water that exhibits a rusty color. I’ve Just Moved Into a Home — How Can I Tell How Old the Water Heater Is? You can determine the age of most water heaters via the serial number located on the unit. What Does a Water Heater’s Energy Factor (EF) Mean? EF is a measurement of a water heater’s overall efficiency. The EF rating is calculated by comparing the energy in the heated water to the unit’s total daily energy consumption. Water heaters with higher EF ratings typically feature lower operating costs that those with a lower EF figure. While high-EF water heaters are more expensive, they generally pay for themselves by providing greater long-term energy savings. Contact Haller Enterprises for Answers to All Your Water Heater Questions With more than 30 years of experience in Central PA and beyond, you can count on Haller Enterprises to serve all your water heater needs. Contact us today for answers to your questions and to learn more about our water heater services.