During this time of crisis, we would like to let you know that both Home Depot and Lowe’s are open with adjusted hours for urgent needs such as hot water heaters, refrigerators, cleaning supplies, electrical and plumbing repairs. Click on the links above for their websites and on the two that follow for full details about the latest information from both Home Depot and Lowe’s. —EH Stafford, Managing Editor
What type of hot water heater do I need?
The type of hot water heater you have for your home is strictly up to you. It can be either electric, natural gas, propane, tankless (never runs out), interior or exterior (on the side of your house if you live down South — Don’t install an exterior heater if you live up North).
STEP 1: Should I keep the one I have?
This decision is also strictly up to you, if it is not too old (water heaters typically last 10 to 12 years) and it’s the style you prefer (electric/gas/tankless/interior/exterior) — it sounds like you are all set.
If not, it’s time to go shopping! Now it’s time to decide what you are looking for.
Step 2: What do I need to know to be able to shop effectively?
This is the key to your ultimate happiness. You may/may not need a lot of hot water volume in your prospective home.
Decide in advance how many gallons per minute (gpm) you will need and expected temperature rise (typically 50-70° F)].
A home inspector can tell you if your current hot water heater is functioning properly, is malfunctioning or defective, BUT will not be able to tell you anything about the adequacy for your family’s needs.
Estimate about 1.5 gpm for a shower or sink, 2.0 gpm for a clothes washer, and 4 gpm for a bathtub. Consider how many are running simultaneously.
Step 3: Finding the right Water heater.
What questions and answers should I ask/know in advance?
- What type of energy source do I prefer?
- Electric or gas
- Is natural gas available to my new home or do I require propane? (It is only a matter of using the proper jet for natural gas or propane.)
- Do I have space inside or should it be outside? (Placing a water heater outside requires that it be protected from rain, splashed water, humidity, dust, direct sunlight, & insects.)
- How many gpm do I need?
- Do I prefer a tankless heater, with endless hot water?
- Your tankless heater can be installed just about anywhere due to its small size. It can be placed under a sink, in a pantry or closet or under stairs. Choose a location that does not require you to make major plumbing alterations, close to your main electrical panel (this will reduce the amount of electrical wire that is needed), and is physically close to the hot water applications (faucets). Pick a safe and readily accessible location for servicing.
- Be aware, tankless heaters do NOT require venting.
Step 4: Now go take a hot shower knowing you have made a great decision & chosen the best system for you!
Tom Nolan, Owner, Checkmark Home Inspections, is a home inspector in the Mooresville, NC / Iredell County region. With over 46 years experience in the industry as a OSHA Consultant, Safety & Security Manager, and Professional Engineer, he knows what to look for when inspecting a home. His key to success is being detail-oriented and focused on the facts. Contact him at (704) 621-7176 or through www.checkmarknc.com.