Draining Your Water Heater: Sedimentary, My Dear Watson

August 21, 2012

SedimentaryThe plumbing system is a vital part of your Tacoma home and requires care to keep it functioning properly. The water heater is one important plumbing fixture that requires maintenance in order to keep it running efficiently. Over time, sediment and sludge can accumulate in a water tank which will make the heater less efficient and it will also shorten its life span which can be very expensive to replace. As well, the accumulation of sediment at the bottom of the water tank can solidify andclog the drain valve. To avoid sediment accumulation, it is important to drain the water heater to get rid of the debris and sludge.

The following is a guide on how to drain a water heater:

1. The first thing you should do is shut off the power to the water tank. For a gas water heater, turn the thermostat to the ‘pilot’ setting. For an electric water heater, turn off the breaker at the main electric panel.

2. Next, turn off the main water source. There will be either a lever or knob on one of the water pipes coming out of the wall to the water heater. Turn it until the lever can no longer turn.

3. The next thing to do is locate the draincock. The draincock can normally be found at the bottom of the tank on the side. It looks like an outdoor tap. Get a garden hose and attach one end to the draincock and extend the other end outdoors so the water will drain outside and not on the floor.

4. Slowly turn the draincock to open and allow the water to flow through the hose and outside. Open the hot water faucet of the bathtub and let it run. Allow the water to run until you no longer see any sludge and debris coming out with the water. The water should be clear, not yellowish brown.

5. Close the drain valve and turn off the faucet.

6. Turn the cold water supply back on and allow the tank to fill. Turn the power supply back on after the tank has filled with cold water.

Water heater experts and your Tacoma plumbing contractor recommend that homeowners flush the sediment from their water tanks once or twice a year, depending on the quality of water in their area. If you live in an area with high mineral content in the water, draining twice a year may be necessary.

Generally, most Tacoma homeowners do not think about maintaining their hot water heater until it breaks down and they end up with an expensive repair bill or replacement tank bill. Because the hot water tank is an essential plumbing fixture, it is essential to make sure the unit is properly maintained. It is important to flush the water tank to help extend the life span of the water tank. Your Tacoma plumbing contractor has the experience and expertise to properly drain a hot water tank and check the tank for any potential problems.

If you are looking for professional Tacoma water heater services, please call 877-694-5176 or complete the online request form.

What Do You Do With a Broken Dip Tube?

June 27, 2012

What Do You Do With a Broken Dip TubeCurved Dip Tubes

The curved dip tube was invented to help keep sediment under control. The bottom end of the tube is curved to allow a swirling motion around the bottom of  your  water heater. New sediment cannot form because it is always in motion in swirling water. You may always add a curved dip tube to an existing water heater. Ask a licensed Seattle plumber about this. With straight dip tubes, only the area on the heater directly underneath the tube gets cleaned from sediment. A simple flush may not help remove much hardened sediment. The bottom of a water heater is generally a dome shape and gets sediment stuck in a ring shape around the bottom edge. If you have the curved dip tube installed and open the drain valve at the bottom, sediment may be washed out. Simply open the drain valve and make sure the cold water line is open. Let the water run through and out the drain valve for five minutes at least. This will reduce a good portion of sediment inside your tank. If you would like to install a curved dip tube yourself, here’s how. Unscrew the cold water outlet line. Insert the handle end of a plastic set of pliers in the inlet. Twist and pull up at the same time to get the dip tube exposed. Scrape any rust away if you’re having a hard time removing the dip tube. Pull the dip tube all the way out. Take the new curved dip tube and mark the direction the curve is pointing at the top on the nipple. Wrap the threads of the nipple with teflon tape eight times. Insert the curved dip tube and be sure that you point it in a direction to allow it to swirl the water at the bottom of the tank. Also note that when buying a new water heater, ask if the tank comes with a curved dip tube, because they make some that do. If the tank does not, consider one that does.

Curved dip tubes should be the first thing to ask a Seattle plumber about if you think you have a sediment problem in your water heater.

Damaged Dip Tubes

If your dip tube has broken or fallen off, cold water will enter at the top of the water heater and immediately leave through the hot water outlet. The result is a very short and cold shower. A new dip tube needs to be installed. I suggest a curved one.

Standard Dip Tubes

A dip tube is a piece of plastic pipe that is attached to the cold water inlet of your water heater. It takes the cold water from the top of the tank to the bottom of the tank. Hot water naturally flows on top of cold water and flows to the top of the tank. Therefore, hot water should be the first water that flows out of the hot water outlet on top of the tank. If your dip tube has broken or fallen off, cold water will enter at the top of the water heater and immediately leave through the hot water outlet. The result is a very short and cold shower. Commercial water heaters do not generally have dip tubes but instead have a cold water inlet that allows water to enter the heater near the bottom. Mobile homes and foreign manufacturers also may have the same arrangement as the commercial water heater.

To schedule an appointment with one of our Tacoma, WA plumbers, call 877-694-5176 or fill out our online request form.

Some Like It Hot – But Safety Trumps Heat

February 21, 2012

Some Like It HotCan tap water really cause serious burns?
Yes. Most Seattle hot water heaters are set to a temperature of 60°C (140° F). Water this hot can severely scald a child’s skin in just one second.

A scald is a second-degree or third-degree burn caused by hot liquid or steam. Hot coffee, tea, soup and other hot foods are the most common causes of scalds to young children. Hot tap water is a less common cause, but these scalds are often more severe – and they are easy to prevent.

To prevent tap water scalds, the hot water at all your taps should be no hotter than 49°C (120°F). At this temperature, it takes about 10 minutes to burn a child’s skin.

Tap water scalds can happen anywhere that the water is too hot – not just in the bath. Children have been scalded by hot tap water when playing at the sink, or by putting their hands or feet into a bucket filled with hot tap water for household cleaning.

Why are children more at risk?
Children are more at risk for tap water scalds because:

  • A child’s skin is thinner and more sensitive than an adult’s skin. A child’s skin burns more quickly – so even a very short exposure to water that is too hot can cause a serious burn.
  • Young children cannot move away from hot water quickly. Many tap water scalds happen when a child is in the bath or playing at the sink. If the water is too hot, a child will get a deep burn that covers a large portion of his or her body. The child may need repeated surgery and skin grafts over many years.

Elderly people and people with certain disabilities or medical conditions (such as diabetes) are also at high risk for tap water scalds. This is because their skin may not be able to feel heat quickly or because they cannot move away from hot water quickly.

How can I find out the temperature of my hot tap water?

  1. Use a thermometer which can show high temperatures, like a meat or candy thermometer. Or you can use a special testing card for hot tap water. These should be available from your Seattle public health offices. Run the hot water tap for two minutes. Make sure the tap is turned to the hottest setting. If you have used a lot of hot water in the past hour, wait two hours before you do this test. Fill a cup with the hot water. Put the thermometer in the cup.
  2. Wait 30 seconds and look at the temperature. If it is higher than 49° C (120° F), you need to lower your water temperature.

How can I lower the temperature of my hot tap water?
Lower the temperature of your hot water heater. The easiest way to prevent burns from hot tap water is to turn down the setting on your hot water heater to 49°C (120° F). Do this only if you can easily see the thermostat dial on the outside of the tank.

If you choose this option, there are some important things you should know:

If anyone living in your Seattle home has a long term or serious illness, check with your doctor before turning down your water heater. DO NOT lower the temperature of your water heater if anyone in your home has health conditions such as:

  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • HIV/AIDS
  • an organ transplant cancer
  • a weakened immune system (from disease or from taking medicine that suppresses the immune system).

People with these conditions are more at risk for legionnaires’ disease, a type of severe pneumonia.

Read the manual for your water heater before changing the setting on the thermostat dial. If you do not have a manual, contact the company that made the water heater. Their number should be posted on the heater. If you rent your water heater, contact the rental company.

  • Gas and oil-fired water heaters have thermostat dials located on the outside of the tank. If the dial has numbers on it, turn the dial down to 49° C or 120° F. If the dial has words like Hot, Warm (or Medium), and Vacation, turn the dial to the Warm or Medium setting. That is approximately 49° C. (The water will still feel quite hot at your taps, but will not cause a scald burn in seconds.)
  • Do not lower the temperature of your water heater below 49° C or a Medium setting. A lower setting can lead to the growth of the bacteria that causes legionnaires’ disease.
  • After adjusting the temperature, wait 24 hours and then test the temperature of your tap water again using a thermometer. Sometimes a heater requires several adjustments before you get the right temperature.
  • Water heaters may continue to pose scalding risks, even when turned down. Be sure to practice safe bathing and to supervise children closely.
  • If you have an electric water heater, do not lower the temperature setting below 60° C. The bacteria that causes legionnaires’ disease grows more easily in some electric water tanks because of the way they are designed. You can still lower your water temperature by installing safety valves. Talk to your qualified Seattle plumber, the company that made your heater, or the rental company for your water heater.

Install mixing valves to control the temperature of your hot tap water.
Devices called mixing valves or tempering valves can be installed in the plumbing pipes at various places. These valves control the temperature of the water before it leaves your taps. Inside your water heater, the temperature can be scalding hot, but the valve will mix in cooler water if needed, to ensure that water at the tap is no hotter than 49° C.

Talk to a qualified Seattle plumber or the rental company for your water heater for proper installation of mixing valves.

There are three ways you can use mixing valves:

  • You can install a master mixing valve right at your water heater. This will control the tap water temperature everywhere in your household.
  • Or, you can install mixing valves in the hot water pipes that go to separate areas of your household – for example, to the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Or, you can install mixing valves at individual taps – for example, at each sink and bathtub.

The cost of installing mixing valves will depend on how many you install and whether there is other plumbing work or renovations going on at the same time. One valve costs may cost in the range of $100 – $150, not including labor.

If you do not have access to your water heater:

Turning down the thermostat of large water heaters in multi-unit buildings is NOT recommended. Harmful bacteria can grow in large water heaters set too low. Also, there may not be enough hot water for everyone in the building.

If you live in an apartment or multi-unit building and do not have access to your hot water heater:

  • Ask your Seattle landlord or property manager to make sure that the hot water at your taps is no hotter than 49° C (120° F). One option is to install mixing valve(s) in the hot water pipes so that the hot water is a safer temperature everywhere in your apartment. An alternative is to install a mixing valve at each of the taps in your kitchen and bathroom.
  • If you cannot get mixing valves installed in your hot water pipes, you can use other devices to help protect your child from tap water scalds.

What other devices are available to help prevent tap water scalds?
Some other devices available include:

‘Anti-scald’ or ‘shut-off’ devices: These are products that attach to the faucet or tap. Some models actually replace the faucet. If the water gets too hot, these devices slow down the water to a trickle. You can restart the water by mixing more cold water into the tap.

Anti-scald devices are available in safety specialty shops, some Seattle hardware stores, and some children’s product stores. They cost about $10 to $50, depending on the type of product. Not all models fit on all kinds of taps, however, and although these products are promoted as “do it yourself” items, they may require adapters or the help of your Seattle plumber to install them.

Tap guards: A tap guard blocks your child’s access to the hot water tap. These can be found in many Seattle home improvement and child safety stores.

Does lowering my hot water temperature increase the risk of bacteria infection in my house?
A concern often raised about lower water temperature is the risk of bacterial growth – particularly legionella. Legionella is the organism that causes legionnaires’ disease, a form of severe pneumonia. These bacteria live naturally in ponds, streams and rivers, and also grow in indoor plumbing systems – mostly in hot water tanks.

Many things affect how much legionella will multiply and whether they create a health risk for people. These factors include:

  • the temperature of the water
  • the mineral content of the water
  • the type or design of the water heater
  • whether people in the household are healthy or sick.

Legionella does not pose a risk to drinking water. To make someone sick, the bacteria must be inhaled through water droplets. Many people have been exposed to legionella and do not get sick.

Most people should have no health concerns about lowering their hot water temperature to 49° C (120° F). Please note these important precautions:

If you have an electric water heater, do not lower the thermostat setting below 60° C. Legionella grows more often in electric water heaters because of the way they are designed. You can install mixing valves instead. Any adjustments to electric water heaters should be done by a qualified Seattle plumber.

Do not lower the thermostat of your household water heater below 49° C. Legionella grow best when the inside of the heater is less than 49° C.
If anyone living in your home has a long term or serious illness, check with your doctor before turning down your water heater. Do not lower the thermostat setting of your water heater if anyone in your home has health conditions such as:

  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • HIV/AIDS
  • an organ transplant
  • cancer
  • a weak immune system (from disease or from taking medicine that suppresses the immune system).

If you have any concerns about legionella, you can protect your family from tap water scalds by installing mixing valves instead.

What about my dishwasher? Don’t I need very hot water to clean the dishes?
Makers of dishwashers and detergents often recommend that hot water should be 60° C for their products work effectively. However, tests show that dishwashing detergents will perform with good to excellent cleaning results at temperatures as low as 38° C.

When dishwashers operate with hot water at 49°C, some water spotting on dishes may occur. Safe Kids Canada recommends that preventing scald burns from too-hot tap water should have higher priority than the need for spotless glasses. You can wipe glasses with a clean dish towel to remove spots. As an alternative, many newer models of dishwashers have internal temperature boosters. Incoming water is heated quickly to help clean the dishes. This feature adds about $45 to the price of a dishwasher.

Will the water be hot enough for my cleaning and bathing if I lower the temperature of my hot tap water?
Household cleaning and bathing do not need water temperatures hotter than 49° C. For example:

  • Comfortable bath water is between 37° and 40° C.
  • Although a lower temperature may have caused problems with washing clothes years ago, newer styles of washing machines and laundry detergents are effective with hot water at 49° C or cooler.
  • In the kitchen, you can kill germs on cutting boards and other surfaces with a mild bleach solution – 1 tsp (5 ml) of bleach in 3 cups (750 ml) of water.

 

Will I run out of hot water more quickly if I lower the thermostat of my water heater?
This is not likely to happen. In a survey conducted five years after the Washington state government required household water heaters to be set at 49° C, three-quarters of people who had lowered their hot water temperature reported no concerns about their supply of hot water.

If you often run out of hot water, it is more likely that you need a water heater with a bigger tank to meet the hot water demands in your Seattle household.

Will I save money on energy costs if I turn down the thermostat of my hot water heater?
According to Environment Canada, hot water tanks account for 14 per cent of home energy use. Only home heating uses more energy. Lowering the setting of your hot water heater from 60° C to 49° C will reduce your heating bill, but some of this saving may be offset by an increase in the amount of hot water you use. In the end, you will likely see modest savings, in the range of $30 to $40 per year, possibly higher if energy costs rise. Insulating your hot water tank can also save up to 10 per cent on your energy use for heating water.

Our child has asthma. Don’t we need very hot water to help get rid of dust mites in her bed linens?
Allergens produced by live dust mites, which commonly live in household textiles such as bed sheets, clothing and curtains, are one of the main causes of allergic disease. The Asthma Society of Canada recommends that clothing and bedding be washed in water at least 55° C to kill dust mites and their allergens.

Instead of using very hot water, there are several options. A dust mite control additive can be used in a low-temperature wash. Dust mites will also be killed by drying fabrics at a high setting for one hour.

If you need to use very hot water for laundry in order to kill dust mites, you can still lower the hot water temperature in all other areas of your Seattle household. Mixing valves to control hot water temperature can be installed in the hot water pipes for all areas except the clothes washer.

To schedule an appointment with one of our Tacoma, WA plumbers, call 877-694-5176 or fill out our online request form.

3 Gallon Shower. 30 Gallon Load of Laundry. ?? Gallon Water Heater

January 5, 2012

Water HeaterWhether you are buying a water heater for the first time, or replacing an old hot water heater, there are some factors that you definitely should keep in mind when shopping, such as:

How much room do you have in the space where you will be installing the water heater?

You want to make sure that you don’t buy a water heater that is too large to fit in the space you have available. So, it would be good to measure the space available and bring these measurements with you when you are shopping for the new water heater.

Does your water heater need to be electric, gas, or propane?

You can choose between an electric water heater or a gas water heater and they are not interchangeable. So, be sure the unit you buy is designed to work with your energy source.

Choose a water heater that is Energy Efficient.

A very high percentage of a  Tacoma household’s energy costs go toward heating the family’s hot water. The average family uses an amazing amount of hot water. Twenty five percent or more of a family’s energy expenses come from just the cost of running the hot water heater. Therefore, when you are selecting which hot water heater to buy, it makes a lot of sense to buy the most energy efficient model possible. Even if this efficient model costs a little bit more in the beginning, it will save a lot of money in the long run. Most retailers who sell hot water heaters will post a sign on each unit that tells you how much energy it pulls, as well as the average yearly cost of running the unit. This information is called the Energy Factor (EF), which is calculated after a mandatory evaluation done on all water heaters. It takes into account usage, standby loss, insulation, etc. Since the “Energy Star” rating has not yet been applied to hot water heaters, you will want to use the EF (Energy Factor) rating, as well as individual information on energy effectiveness that is posted on each unit. Simply compare numbers from one unit to another.

Choose a water heater with a good warranty.

Because so many manufacturers have cut costs to lower the expense of the manufacturing process, most water heaters today will not last much longer than their warranty. So go for the heater with the longest warranty. But just a long warranty in itself is not a protection. You also have to look at the warranty exclusions. Sometimes these warranties have fine print. So it may look like a great warranty on the outside, but then the fine print could say that the causes of most hot water heater failures are not covered.

Choose the right size of water heater

Finding the right size of water heater to match your family’s needs is important. If you choose a water heater that is too small, you will find that just as you lather up the shampoo in your hair the water turns cold. But if you choose a tank that is way too big, you will have a higher than necessary Tacoma utility bill each month just to heat up the tank. You can ask yourself now if you frequently run out of hot water. If so, then check the size of your current water heater and you will know that you are going to require a larger size. If the size you have now seems to do the job, then ask yourself what your FUTURE needs are. Remember, you are buying one water heater to last several years, so you must consider if the family is going to expand in the future, or if you plan on buying a hot tub, spa, jacuzzi or over-sized bathtub in the future. Are you a laundry heavy family? Any additional future needs must be considered when sizing your hot water heater. Even if there are only 2 of you in the home now, and maybe it’s a 4 bedroom Tacoma home and you have no intention of growing your family or increasing your water needs, it is always recommended that you size the water heater for the house, in case you ever decide in the future to sell this home. An undersized tank on a house would not be desirable as a selling point and may even prevent the home from passing inspection. All this being said, keep in mind that if you do decide you need a larger water heater, the space where you are going to be putting the tank must be adequate. Hot water heaters range in size from 20 to 80 gallons, but the most common sizes used are 40-50 gallons.

As a general rule of thumb, you can go by the number of people in your Tacoma household to determine the water heater that would most likely be required under normal demand circumstances. Normal demand capacities are based on a home with typical appliances, such as a washing machine, dishwasher, and normal sized bathtubs. It would be considered an extra demand, or more than normal demand, if you had a home with a hot tub, spa, over-sized bathtub, children over the age of twelve (teenagers can use a lot of water), or even small children (large amount of laundry). For a family of 1 or 2, under normal circumstances, a 40 gallon tank should be sufficient. More than normal demand would probably require a 50 gallon tank for 1 or 2 people. If your family has 3 or 4 people, then a 50 gallon tank would usually suffice under normal circumstances. For a greater demand, then a 50 gallon gas water heater would probably still be sufficient, but if your tank is electric, you might consider an 80 gallon heater. Gas heaters are usually able to heat up the water in a tank faster. And, finally, if your family has 5 or more people, then a 50 gallon gas heater is probably still adequate under normal circumstances. If your tank is electric, then an 80 gallon heater would be recommended under normal demand. If you are in a situation where your demand would be more than normal, then go to a 75 gallon gas tank, and perhaps even a 120 gallon electric, if the space you have available for your hot water heater is large enough to accommodate. Remember, you want to buy the water heater that will do the job NOW and in the FUTURE. So keep in mind what your future requirements will be. You may be surprised at how much water on average some everyday activities use:

  • Showering – 3 gallons/minute
  • Bathing –  15-25 gallons per bath
  • Shaving –  1-3 gallons
  • Washing hands –  1/2-2 gallons
  • Washing dishes –  4-6 gallons
  • Running dishwasher –  5-20 gallons
  • Running clothes washer –  25-40 gallons
  • Cleaning house –  5-12 gallons
  • Food preparation –  1-6 gallons

Choose the proper method of installation – Use a Professional Plumber.

Installing the water heater is not a job for the layman. It involves plumbing work, as well as gas or electric work. Mistakes in installation are one of the most common causes of injury and water heater failures, so this job is best left up to your professional Tacoma plumber. Installation also involves knowledge of current local code ordinances to make sure the tank is installed in such a way as to pass those codes for Tacoma.  Also, your plumber will be familiar with the water quality of Tacoma and any unique characteristics.

For further direction and guidance, ask a respectable and knowledgeable Tacoma plumber. They will be able to share a wealth of information and make professional recommendations.

To schedule an appointment with one of our Tacoma, WA plumbers, call 877-694-5176 or fill out our online request form.

Is Your Seattle Water Heater a Time Bomb?

December 1, 2011

Seattle Water HeaterIt’s hard to believe it, but over 19,000 water heaters are replaced every day. About 7 million heaters end up being tossed out each year in Canada alone. A large city such as Seattle may see several thousand water heaters a year disposed of. Not only are water heaters a common plumbing malfunction, but unfortunately, they can be dangerous when they do malfunction. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recently said that almost every single day someone gets injured or killed from a explosion.

Naturally, then, extending the life of your water heater and preventing any unexpected break downs is a priority. So, first, we need to understand the common causes for problems. The first common problem would have to be sediment build up. Sediment comes from dirt, mineral deposits and rust. This build up of sediments and internal rusting can cause premature death of your device. It can burn out the heating elements and cause overheating. This also results in an increase of unnecessary energy use. Another common cause of rust inside the water heater is  hard water.  If that is the case, it would be a good idea to call an experienced Seattle plumber for advice and recommendations when selecting your water heater.  An experienced plumber in Seattle would be familiar with the quality of the water and would be able to make recommendations as to which water heaters are more likely to resist premature rusting.

The New Mexico State University issued a study where the results showed that water heaters operate 22-30 percent less efficiently when they have hard water scale. The only way to know if your current water heater is collecting minerals and deposits is to call a qualified Seattle plumber and have them come out and inspect your water heater.  If sediment is discovered, the plumber will be able to flush out the sediment and give it proper maintenance.

Another common cause for water heater problems is improper water heater installation from the beginning. This could include bad flues, improper clearances, ignoring installation instructions, and disregarding national and local Seattle plumbing safety codes. These instructions and codes are issued for a reason – to make sure the hot water heater operates safety and according to intended operation. Ignoring such instructions and safety codes can be dangerous. The only way to know if your hot water heater is properly installed is to have a qualified Seattle plumber inspect your water heater system for such code violations. It’s also possible that some new code requirements have changed since your water heater was first installed. If this is the case, your plumber can also let you know about these improved codes and what can be done to bring your hot water system up to par.  And finally, a fourth cause of water heater malfunction could be external leaks. If, for whatever reason, a leak develops on the outside of the water heater, it oftentimes initiates rusting from the outside in. This destroys a newly installed water heater prematurely. It also can corrode electrical connections and cause a dangerous electrical shock.

Hot water heaters explode every day. Is YOURS a time bomb? Don’t take the chance. Have a qualified Seattle plumber come and perform regular water heater inspections and water heater maintenance for your own peace of mind, safety, and protection from very costly repairs later down the road.

To schedule an appointment with one of our Tacoma, WA plumbers, call 877-694-5176 or fill out our online request form.

Lower Water Heater Temp = Lower Tacoma Utility Bill

November 17, 2011

Lower Water Heater Temp = Lower Tacoma Utility BillThere are countless ways to lower the costs of energy each and every month in your Tacoma home, but few of these ideas are as simple to implement as just lowering the temperature setting on your home’s water heater. It has been estimated that a homeowner can save as much as five percent on the water heating portion of their utility bill for every ten degrees that they lower the water heater temperature setting.

Some manufacturers ship out their units with a temperature setting of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. While this will deliver some seriously hot water for your use, it is probably higher than most Tacoma homes need and will waste a lot of energy in the process of heating it. Most homes function just fine at a setting of 120 degrees Fahrenheit and this is a pretty good guide for you to follow. If you find that your needs are not being met at this setting, you can always change it back. There is one caveat to this bit of advice is that if you are using a dishwasher in your home that does not have a built-in water heating booster, you may not get the best cleaning at a lower setting and have no real choice but to leave the setting at 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Every water heater is different and you will need to read your owner’s manual for the details of how to make this temperature adjustment to your particular unit. You can also ask your Tacoma plumbing contractor, who will certainly make the adjustment for you if you are uncomfortable.  As a general rule, gas and electric units will have the thermostats located in different areas. You will usually be able to locate the thermostat dial near the gas valve for gas-powered water heaters that utilize a tank design for holding water. Electric water heaters will often have the thermostat located in an area that is protected by an access panel that requires a screwdriver to access. Some electric-powered units could even have two temperature control units, one for each of the heating elements in the unit.

If you decide to experiment with your thermostat settings, be sure to do so in a safe manner. Before beginning any adjustments, make sure that the power to the unit has been turned off. You risk serious injury if you start making adjustments to a unit that has electricity powered on.

One thing you will need to do is test the setting after you make an adjustment. The dials on most Tacoma water heaters do not have a good track record of accuracy. So, be sure to go to a faucet or shower as far away from the unit as you can find and see if the water feels hot enough. If not, make another slight adjustment to the thermostat and test again until you get the desired temperature.

As you can see, making a change to your water heater thermostat is not too big of a project and can easily be done by just about everyone. You don’t need to be a DIY whiz to be able to save energy and money without sacrificing comfort.

If you are looking for a Tacoma plumbing contractor, please call 877-694-5176 or complete our online request form.

Advantages Of Using Tankless Water Heaters in Your Tacoma Home

October 19, 2011

Tankless Water Heaters in Your Tacoma HomeSo you’re taking a shower and just when you are about to rinse the soap from your face, the water gets bone-chillingly cold! How many times has this happened to you? Running out of hot water when it is needed is a common problem with traditional water heaters, you might think that this can easily be remedied by switching to a new heater with a larger capacity tank, but the truth is that even big tanks will run out of water eventually, bigger tanks also cost a lot of money. The real solution to this dilemma is to replace your old water heater and try one of those new Tacoma tankless water heaters.

Advantages of Tankless Water Heaters over Traditional Ones

  1. Energy Saving – Traditional water heaters need to constantly heat up a water tank so that there is always hot water ready, the water gets heated up even if you don’t need it, and if you run it, a lot of energy needs to be used to heat up all the water in the tank. With tankless water heaters, you save on energy because it only heats the water when it is needed; it shuts off automatically when it is not needed.
  2. They last longer than traditional water heaters – Because tankless water heaters heat up the water as they pass through it, no mineral deposits will accumulate in the pipes due to stagnant water. If you buy a reputable brand of tankless water heater, they can last for up to 20 years without the need to have it replaced. Unlike traditional water heaters that need to have periodic maintenance and is constantly in need of repairs.
  3. They save on space – Traditional water heaters need to have a large space because of the water tank. If you have a small home then finding a place for it can be tough. Finding enough space is not a problem with tankless water heaters, since they are usually only the size of a medicine cabinet, they can be conveniently placed under the bathroom sink.
  4. They are safer – Tankless water heaters come with a built-in thermostat so that you can set how hot the water will be heated. This is good for families that have small children as they won’t get scalded by overly hot water like in traditional heaters.

Even though tankless water heaters have these many advantages, there is still one thing that makes people shy away from buying these types of water heaters, and that is the high price. Typically, a good tankless water heater costs as much as three times that of a traditional water heating system, and not a lot of people would want to spend that much money on hot water. But if you think about it, because tankless water heaters can save on energy and is relatively maintenance-free you will be saving a lot of money in the long run.

So if you’re tired of all the hassles that traditional water heaters have, then go tankless!

Common Tacoma Water Heater Problems

October 6, 2011

When water is heated, the calcium carbonate present in it gets precipitated and settles down. When this happens inside your hot water heater, it leads to a buildup of sediments inside the water tank. If there is any sand or other particulate matter present in the water, it can also pile up inside the tank.

Sediment buildup is generally a very slow process, but if you live in an area where the water is very hard, your water heater can get filled up really fast. If your heater is all filled up with sediment, you might not get sufficient hot water flow or it might not be at the desired temperature. The best way to avoid this is to have the heater flushed out at regular intervals.

Another common problem with Tacoma water heaters, both propane and electric is that of the appliance running out of hot water quickly or only supplying warm water. This issue might be on account of a broken or leaking dip tube or a burnt out heating element. The dip tube is a small plastic tube that allows cold water to flow into the bottom of the tank.

If this dip tube is broken, the hot and cold water will mix and you will only get warm water. This issue can be easily and quickly resolved by having the dip tube replaced. However, if your heater has a defective thermostat or the heating element has burned out, it might need bigger repairs or a complete replacement.

Some heaters that work on propane gas often make sounds when the temperature rises. This is generally on account of a build up on sediment at the bottom of the water tank. As the water heats up, steam bubbles form under the sediment and then rise through it to escape to the top of the water tank. Again, the issue can be resolved by flushing out the heater completely.

A major issue that plagues many Tacoma water heaters is that of pressure buildup. When water gets heated inside the heater, it expands. All heaters have a pressure reducing valve or check valve to allow this pressure to be released. But if this valve is blocked due to any reason, the pressure can rise quickly. If left unchecked, the pressure might rise to a level where the heater bursts.

To control this pressure you can have a temperature-pressure valve or a thermal expansion tank installed on your inlet line. This would allow the pressure to be released without any cause for concern. The temperature-pressure valve is a sensitive device that has a life-span of just about two years. If you water heater has such a valve, you should get it checked and replaced periodically.

Tankless heaters in Tacoma that do not store water for heating are also good alternatives as these would not have any chances of the pressure going out of control. Such heaters have direct vents for water inlet and outlet and the water flows through the heating element, which gets it heated.

Hot water heaters are mechanical and electrical devices and all devices can develop problems over time. This does not mean they should be replaced immediately. Most issues can be resolved by taking minor precautions. All it requires is a bit of understanding and care.

Advantages of Having a Tankless Hot Water Heater in Your Tacoma Home

July 21, 2010

Picture the scene, it’s a cold winter’s morning you step out of your robe and into warm embrace of a  hot shower. You feel more alive as the water runs over your body and the steam starts to fill the room, then the water runs cold. Your day is literally ruined, and forget about anyone else in the house being able to enjoy the luxury. There’s nothing worse than not being able to finish a shower. I suppose if you have the cash it’s an easy problem to fix, you can just buy a large geyser system. However, if you don’t have that kind of funding available to solve the drama there might just be another way and the tankless water heater is your solution.

The Tacoma tankless hot water heater quite simply stated, heats water at your demand. How does it work?. As opposed to the traditional conventional heater that stores hot water in a tank, a tankless water heater operates by heating water as it passes through the pipes in the unit.

There are pros and cons to consider before you invest in a piece of equipment such as a tankless hot water heater. Let’s talk about those and think about them before you make a decision about purchasing this equipment.

A tankless hot water heater has several basic advantages.

  • Firstly you will never have to worry about your morning shower running cold as the system provides hot water instantly and for as long as you require. It also uses a lot less energy and lasts for a long time unlike a geyser system.

Did you know that your geyser is responsible for a large portion of your electricity bill? You see, if the geyser is switched on then it will be working and heating water, even if you’re not home. What a waste of money and resources! Now this type of water heater only heats the water on your demand therefore it doesn’t waste any energy while you’re at work or on vacation. The amount you will save on your monthly bill will also depend upon your consumption of hot water, but if you are like most full-time working people and only use hot water in the morning and evening, then you can expect your energy bill to reduce quite substantially.

  • A Tacoma tankless hot water heater does not suffer from mineral build up in the system and if you spend a little money and buy a decent brand then you can expect a lifespan on a system to be 20 years or more without your equipment having to be repaired or replaced.

This means that your unit should last a good time. The average regular water heater will last anywhere from ten to twenty years. The range of years is caused by the quality of your local water, the quality of the water heater, and how well you maintain it. a tankless unit needs very little maintenance since they don’t hold water. An electric tankless water heater can last from twenty to thirty years, or sometimes more.

Although the above may sound great there is a high initial cost that you would have to outlay. The systems are generally much more expensive than ordinary water heating systems but you must remember that the offsets in the above-mentioned pros will eventually recover your investment in the long-term.



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Storage water heaters are by far the most common type of water heater in the U.S. today. Ranging in size from 20 to 80 gallons (or larger) and fueled by electricity, natural gas, propane, or oil, storage water heaters work by heating up water in an insulated tank. When you turn on the hot water tap, hot water is pulled out of the top of the water heater and cold water flows into the bottom to replace it. Because heat is lost through the walls of the storage tank (this is called standby heat loss), energy is consumed even when no hot water is being used. New energy-efficient storage water heaters contain higher levels of insulation around the tank, substantially reducing standby heat loss.

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