The water heater market has been changing and developing dramatically over the past few years.  There are various fuel choices and various methods of heating the water now available.  For traditional water heaters, the life span is between 10 and 12 years.  It is a good idea visually inspect the water heater in your home once a year.   When doing a visual inspection you should look at the top of the heater for any corrosion or leakage out of the top or bottom.

If you notice other problems such as your water heater is not heating to full capacity or is producing scalding water and then no hot water at all it is possible we can replace an element or thermostat without replacing the entire water heater.  If you want to install or replace a water heater, there are many different options.  The Joseph Heil Company can recommend, sell, and install the hot water heater(s) that meet your residential or commercial needs.

  • Tank Water Heaters – Tank type water heaters have been the industry standard for decades in the U.S. and most of the time are still a homeowner’s best choice.  They keep a tank of water heated and dispense the hot water to showers, sinks, etc. when necessary.
    • Gas Water Heaters – Gas water heaters burn natural gas, propane, or oil.  Where natural gas is readily available, it is usually the cheapest and easiest solution.  There are several types of water heaters that burn gas.
      • Atmospheric Heaters – Atmospheric heaters are the oldest and simplest models.  They burn fuel to heat water and let the exhaust rise out a chimney (usually through metal pipes).
      • Power Vent Heaters – Power vent heaters push exhaust out with a fan rather than let it waft away.  This allows power vent heaters to produce relatively colder exhaust by heating the water more efficiently.  Since power vent heaters emit cooler exhaust which is driven out by a fan, the exit piping can be made of PVC running out a side wall rather than more costly heat resistant metal running vertically out of a building.  Power vent heaters can also be safer.  In the atmospheric model, exhaust from the heater does not always rise properly due to a backdraft.  This exhaust, which can include carbon monoxide should something go wrong, can return into the house rather than floating up the chimney.  In a power vent model, the exhaust is blown out by a fan so that it exits the house more reliably.  The downside is that power vent heaters make as much noise as the fans inside of them and use electricity to power the fans.
      • Condensing Heaters – Condensing heaters are a more efficient type of power vent heater.  Before pushing the exhaust out, condensing heaters run the exhaust through a heat exchanger which further heats the water and cools the exhaust.  In this process some of the exhaust cools to the point that it condenses (hence the name).  Condensing heaters utilize sealed combustion which makes them more efficient, but also require an extra pipe to bring in outside air like direct vent tankless heaters (see below for details).  The bottom line is that condensing heaters are a more expensive and efficient type of power vent heater.
    • Electric Water Heaters – Electric heaters use your home’s electricity to heat water in much the same way that a traditional tungsten bulb becomes hot as the filament shines.  A key consideration when installing an electric heater is whether or not your house’s current setup can handle the heavy load of an electric water heater.  As with gas heaters, there are various options.
      • Lowboy Heaters – Lowboy water heaters are heaters which are built short and wide (relative to standard electric water heaters) for fitting into smaller spaces such as under a counter or in a closet.  Gas fueled lowboy heaters used to be manufactured, but were found to be too inefficient.
      • Heat Pump Hybrid Heaters – Heat pump hybrid heaters represent some of the newest technology in electric hot water heaters.  They include the standard electric heating elements and in addition come with a heat pump.  The heat pump pulls heat out of the air to cool and dehumidify the house.  Hybrid heaters can have the heat pump turned on or off when appropriate.
    • Solar Heaters – Solar heaters can be used as a supplement to another water heater.  In fact some solar powered heaters come with backup heating elements built into them.  The reality is that in most cases, the sun cannot heat all the water that you need when you need it.  There are two different basic choices to make when looking for a solar heater.
      • Active or Passive Heater?  Active heaters use pumps to move liquid through the solar heating system, whereas passive loops rely on the pressure in the cold liquid pipe and the rising temperature of the hot liquid to move the water through the system.
      • Open or Closed Loop Heater?  Open loop systems are the simplest to understand.  They bring in cold water, send it through the “solar panels” (the solar heating system is not always panel shaped), and deliver it to the hot water tank.  Closed loop systems are at times necessary to keep water from freezing in the pipes.  A closed loop system sends a liquid such as anti-freeze through the solar heating system and then runs it through the hot water tank in a sealed tube to heat the water and cool the anti-freeze.
  • Tankless Water Heaters – Tankless water heaters are also called demand heaters because rather than filling a tank they heat water whenever a faucet demands it.  They usually are much smaller than their tank counterparts and they tend to produce hot water at a slower rate.  Think about it this way, a tankless water heater is ready to produce a stream of hot water at a moment’s notice; a tank water heater has a bucket of hot water always waiting and will fetch another when the first is emptied.  If you only ever need a slow supply of hot water, perhaps a tankless heater is perfect.  If you use several appliances at once, then you probably need a water heater with a tank.
    • Gas Tankless Water Heaters – Gas fueled tankless heaters generally require more fuel while they are heating water than their tank counterparts.  In order to heat the water quickly enough to meet demand, the gas supply line in the house will usually need to be replaced with a larger pipe.
      • Outdoor Tankless Heaters – Outdoor tankless water heaters save space indoors and do not need to be vented.  They do need freeze protection however.  Many tankless outdoor heaters come with built in freeze protection.
      • Power Vent Tankless Heaters – Power vent tankless water heaters are essentially the same as their tank-type counter parts.  They generally require metal piping for the exhaust they produce.
      • Direct Vent Tankless Heaters – Direct vent tankless water heaters are a subset of tankless power vent heaters which pull air for combustion to the heater from outside the house rather than inside.  This means that direct vent heaters require two separate or concentric air pipes.  Placing the exhaust pipe inside the intake pipe means that only one hole (albeit a larger hole) has to be drilled for the air pipes.  It also means that the exhaust pipe does not require any special insulation procedures because the colder intake air insulates it.
      • Condensing Tankless Heaters – Condensing tankless water heaters are essentially the same as their tank-type counterparts.
    • Electric Tankless Water Heaters – These heaters have no lowboy or heat pump hybrid options.  Electric tankless water heaters rather are generally smaller than lowboy heaters and can be installed outside as well.
  • Higher Output Water Heaters – There are water heaters with a higher output in nearly every category of water heater.  Of course, higher output requires a more efficient heater, more fuel, and/or a larger hot water tank.  In many cases, commercial hot water heaters are higher output heaters.