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High Quality Gas Water Heaters in Houston

It’s reliable, always delivers on time with the turn on a knob, and rarely takes a day off. It’s your gas water heater.  But how do you treat it in return? It’s essential to know when to replace your gas water heater. Sure, it’s possible for us at Nick’s Plumbing Service to perform a gas water heater repair. However, if your unit is older than seven years, that may not be the most financially responsible decision. It may be time to look for a replacement, to look for one that is newer and more efficient.

Who invented the gas water heater?

To say that hot water is indispensable in our daily lives in the United States is an understatement. The average American home uses 80-120 gallons of hot water a day. That costs about $267 annually on average. Hot water is essential to kill off germs and bacteria on dishes, laundry, and surfaces. So many of our homes are heated by hot water, steam, or heat.

The Romans were the originators of the hot water baths and showers because they tapped into the natural hot springs. It was a Norwegian mechanical engineer Edwin Rudd who designed the first automatic storage-tank type gas water heater. The Ruud Automatic Gas Water-Heater guaranteed instant hot water from the faucet quickly and safely, unlike anything that had ever been seen before. His invention was extremely timely because it took advantage of wide-spread gas utility services in large cities in the 1890s and the 1900s.

How does a gas water heater work?

A gas water heater falls under the category of a single-family storage water heater. It can store anywhere from 20 to 80 gallons of hot water at the ready to be used. It operates using the laws of physics known as convection, which explains how heat rises. The cold water enters the tank through a raw water supply tube to force a constant supply of cold water into the tank. The dense cold water at the bottom of the tank is heated by a gas burner located below the sealed tank. As the water grows warmer, it slowly rises in the tank. Then it is drawn off by the hot water discharge pipe to provide hot water wherever it is called for throughout the home. The hot water discharge pipe is considerably shorter than the dip tube since its goal is to funnel off the warmest water, found at the summit of the tank.

The gas regulator assembly is mounted on the side of the water heater. This is what controls the gas burner, which heats the water. The regulator includes a thermostat that measures the water’s temperature inside the tank and turns the burner off and on as required to maintain the water’s set temperature. 

Apart from natural gas, hot water tanks can also be heated using propane, natural gas, and electricity. 

Why select a gas water heater?

A gas water heater is often one of the least expensive options on the market. However, long term, it can often be the most costly to operate and maintain over its lifetime. Before you purchase a gas water heater, you’ll want to consider the following:

  • Energy efficiency & costs
  • Fuel type and availability
  • Size & first-hour rating

How long should my water heater last?

If your gas water heater is more than ten years old, it may be time to think about your replacement options. With regular maintenance, a gas water heater should last between eight to 12 years. 

Why is maintenance essential?

It can’t be emphasized enough times proper maintenance is vital to protecting and extending the life of any water heater. Without it, you may unknowingly expose yourself to a catastrophic leak or be forced to replace your gas water heater after some monumental damage to your home. Your tank should be drained, flushed, and cleaned at least once a year to ensure that it’s operating at its highest efficiency. If you live in an area with hard water, which is most of us in the Houston area, consider having it serviced every six months.

Your gas water heater tank holds between forty and seventy gallons of water, twenty-four hours a day. The continuous heating and cooling cycles inherent to the function of a water heater puts tremendous strain on the metal that makes up that tank. The constant expansion and contraction of the tank will take its toll on the welded seams, resulting in what we in the plumbing business call “catastrophic failure.”

When your gas water heater tank eventually fails, all the water in that tank will have to go somewhere. That five-gallon drip-pan is no match for a failed gas water heater tank! With many water heaters being installed in attics here in Texas, you can imagine what happens next. Many water damage insurance claims are filed annually for damage caused by failed water heaters in the attic. Many of these claims are denied due to negligence. The simple act of not performing regular maintenance on your water heater can result in your insurance company denying your application for that water damage. In addition to the cost of the water heater and the installation, imagine another $10,000 in damages to your ceilings, rugs, wood floors, and personal belongings.

Can I perform some maintenance on my water heater?

1. Drain sediment build-up from the water heater

As previously mentioned, the hot water tank can build up sediment at the bottom of the tank over a period leading to several different problems. The solution to this is flushing your tank using the tank drain valve. These sediments can be removed, and questions can be avoided. Cleaning a tank is something you can do at home by adhering to the following steps:

  • Turn gas pilot control valve to the “pilot” setting.
  • Shut-off the cold-water supply to the water heater.
  • Open the nearest hot-water faucet.
  • Attach a garden hose to the drain valve and place the hose’s open end in a utility sink or floor drain.
  • Open the tank drain valve.
  • Allow all water to drain out of the water heater tank (you will most likely see discolored water flowing out of the tank, that’s the sediment mixed in with the water).
  • Once the tank is empty, shut the tank drain valve.
  • Open the cold-water supply valve to refill the tank.
  • Turn the gas control valve to the ON position.
  • Check to make sure the burner ignites.

2. Test the temperature-pressure release (TPR) valve

This type of testing should be performed on an annual basis.

  • Shut-off the power and the cold-water supply valve
  • Place a bucket under the pipe connected to the temperature-pressure release (TPR) valve on the top or side of the tank. Remember, this is the valve that opens if the tank pressure gets too high.
  • Lift the valve’s tab to let some water out, then let go. If the water continues to flow, partially drain the tank, unscrew the old valve with a pipe wrench, and install a new one.

3. Check the anode rod

An anode rod is a temporary steel core wire containing magnesium, aluminum, or zinc around it. It’s there to protect the metal lining inside your water heater tank to prevent explosion or corrosion over time.

  • Attach a hose to the tank’s drain cock and let out a few gallons of water.
  • Fit a 1 1/16-inch sock onto the rod’s hex head on top of the heater and unscrew the rod. (If it’s less than ½ inch thick or coated with calcium, purchase a new one. Wrap its threads with Teflon tape. Put it back in the tank and tighten it securely. Use this segmented rod if the headroom above the tank is tight.

4. Insulate the heater

  • Cut an insulating blanket to fit snuggly around your water heater, the TPR valve, and the temperature control sticking out of the tank.
  • Wrap the side of the tank, and seal cuts with foil tape. (Do not cover the tops of oil or gas heaters).
  • Cap an electric heater with an oversize circle of insulation.
  • Tape its edge securely to the side of the tank.

5. Insulate the pipes

  • Purchase some self-sticking 3/8-inch thick foam pipe insulation that matches the pipes’ diameter.
  • Slide the foam over the hot-and-cold water pipes as far as you can reach. Insulating the cold-water pipes prevents condensation in the summer.
  • Peel the tape and squeeze the insulation close.
  • If the pipe is six inches or less from the flue, cover it with 1-inch thick unfaced fiberglass pipe wrap.

6. Adjust the temperature

  • Locate the temperature dial on the side of the tank and unscrew its cover.
  • Adjust the dial to 120 degrees using a flathead screwdriver
  • Expect to save up to 5% in energy costs for every 10 degrees the temperature is lowered.

When are repairs possible for my water heater?

Water heaters can occasionally be repaired by replacing a few essential parts. They include the following:

  • Burner Assembly
  • Thermocouples
  • Motors
  • Igniters
  • Valves
  • Heating elements

You may be able to repair your water heater if the unit is less than ten years old, and a replaceable part is failing. If your unit is older than ten years old, if it has not been maintained, or if it shows signs of wear and tear such as those mentioned above, consider replacing it.

How do you know when to replace your gas water heater?

There are several clear signs that your hot water is no longer functioning at its optimal level. Some of these issues can be repaired. Other problems cannot, which means your tank needs to be replaced altogether. 

1. Leaks

If your water heater is leaking, then you must replace it. There is no way around it. Leaks tend to be the result of pressure build-up inside the tank. It is the result of a build-up of pressure, if the temperature is too high, or if the unit’s relief valve is not functioning correctly. If you neglect this leak at some point, you could end up with a tank explosion. Signs of a leak include moisture or puddles around the water heater’s base and water corrosion on the side of your tank. This is when you need to contact Nick’s Plumbing Service for help.

2. Rusty, cold or cloudy water

Any type of water discoloration is a clear sign your tank is no operating as it should. Water is a rusty smell or color can mean a few things. It could either be the anode rod or the tank that is rusting from the inside out. The corrosion has begun at the steel lining on the inside of the tank and worked its way out. A corroded tank must be replaced as soon as possible and can be done with a call to Nick’s Plumbing Service.

3. Knocking or banging noises

Does it sound as though a small elf is living inside your gas water heater? You hear knocking at night, followed by banging and clanging as well? These kinds of loud noises are an indication that hard water sediment has built up. As the sediment hardens, it can move around the tank and cause knocking and rumbling. To preserve your water heater and protect it from premature deterioration, you must have it flushed regularly to remove any deposits from the tank.

What features should I consider with my gas water heater?

1. Warranty

Coverage for water heaters, and that includes gas traditionally runs anywhere between three to 12 years. While you’ll usually pay slightly more for longer-warranty models, they tend to have larger elements or burners that can speed up water heating. They also have thicker insulation for less heat loss. Choose a water heater with the most extended warranty available. 

2. Anti-scale devices

Some water heaters have an anti-scale feature, which does just what it says it’s supposed to reduce the build-up of mineral scale at the bottom of the tank by swirling the water. It is true the scale can shorten the life of the heating element in a water heater. However, you don’t need to invest in such fancy features to get a water heater to last. All you need to do is find one with a solid 12-month warranty. These are the ones that have longer or thicker elements.

3. Digital Displays

The newer water heaters have easy-to-read digital displays that can help you monitor and customize your operation. Some have a “vacation” setting when you’re away. Others will show a tank and collector temperature along with other information, including pressure readings.

Gas Water Heaters

You owe your loyal and trusted gas water heater to treat it kindly. Part of that includes maintaining it regularly, being on the lookout for potential problems, and other issues. In the event it starts to leak or stop working, you need to call in the experts at Nick’s Plumbing Service. We’ll be more than happy to help you determine if your loyal companion who’s delivered your countless hot showers can be repaired or needs to be replaced.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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