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Water Heater FAQs

Noisy Water Heater

One of the most common questions people ask about Water Heaters is why do they make so much noise.  Well a new water heater rarely makes any noise, the only noise they may make would be from the burners kicking on for gas water heaters or the simmering noise made by the electric elements inside of an electric water heater.  The loud noises that water heaters make normally comes from water heaters that have a lime build up inside of them.  This lime tends to build up in flakes at the bottom of the tank and traps small pockets of water.  It is similar to corn flakes in a bowl of milk.  These pockets of water are not allowed to circulate when they are being heated and instead superheat and become vapor.  These trapped vapor pockets either explode and break open their lime pocket or they seep out in the form of bubbles.  Both of these situation cause a noise.  Read more

Rotten Eggs smell from the hot water.

Inside a water heater is an anode rod.  This rod can start to form bacteria and cause the smell.  It is probably best to change the anode rod out.  The top of the anode rod is visible on the top of the water heater tank, it looks like a silver nut about 1-1/4 inches in diameter.  The nut is the top of the anode rod.  Find more information about anode rods.

Draining your water heater.

Water heater manufacturers do suggest you drain your water heater.  If your going to drain it, you should probably do it on a 6 month basis.  We have not seen draining water heaters to be to any advantage.  Often times draining a water heater can cause the drain valve to plug up or break off, these valves are normally made cheap plastic and are very fragile.  Its worth noting that the drain valves are not positioned on the very bottom of the tank, so sediment laying on the bottom is unlikely to get drained away.

Red reset button.

One question that comes up a lot, is what is the purpose of the red button (reset) on an electric water heater.  This button is a temperature safety button.  It only pops out when the water heater controls have failed and the water temperature has reacted an unsafe level.  Pushing the reset button is only a temporary solution.  Until the failed part is replaced, there is a high probability it will happen again.  If the water heater is over 6 years of age, it may not be worth the time and money it takes for replace the water heater elements and controls (over $100). 

Can I get a larger water heater?

Since most water heaters require the same input in gas or electric, the only thing you need to watch for is the width and height.  As long as the measurements look okay you should be able to change the size of your water heater.  Going to 75 gallons on a gas water heater does require a larger exhaust vent (4") size, this will usually cost more.  Also you do want to allow for 4" on each side of your new water heater.  The height of the new water heater needs to also be considered, the pipes from the old water heater need to meet up with the new water heater.

What size water heater should I choose?

We suggest replacing your existing water heater with the same size as the old one.  Unless, your running out of hot water, then you may consider going up to the next size.  30 and 40 gallon water heaters are about the same cost, when you get to 50 and above the prices start to increase.  40 gallon gas water heater is probably the most common water heater in Tucson.

Can I turn off the water heater when I leave on vacation?

If you plan on leaving the house for more than 2 weeks, you could turn off your water heater.  Do not turn off the water valve to the water heater.  Just turn a gas water heater control to Vacation setting, or off.  Electrics you can turn off at the electrical panel box.  A common problem is the drain valve starting to drip when a water heater gets cold.  You may want to make sure it is not dripping once it gets cold before you leave.  A hot water heater can hold its heat for about a week before it cools down, so you might have to use the hot water in the tank.  You will save less than 50 cents per day doing this.

Gas or electric water heaters?

Natural gas water heaters are costs less to operate and last longer.  Electrics cost about 75% more to operate.  Gas water heaters also tend to last a couple years longer and have less maintenance issues.  Electric water heaters work better if you have a water softener.  Gas water heaters also have a faster recovery time.  Electric water heaters are cleaner and can be installed in more enclosed areas.