You hop in the shower, flip the water on, and wait for it to warm up. Despite the knob for hot water being turned all the way up, though, you’re not getting anything but ice-cold water out of the showerhead. What gives? You check the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink. Ice-cold water all around. You head to the water heater and see that it’s had it, completely giving out.
So, now you need to buy a new water heater. These are expensive appliances that need to last a long time. Before you buy a new water heater for your home, there are some key things you need to know. Make sure you know what you’re getting into before you make a purchase!
Gas or Electric Water Heater?
Before you get a water heater, look into the various power sources that can make a water heater do its thing. Some heaters use gas, while others use electricity. Gas-powered heaters have higher up-front costs, owing to their more specialized designs, but often are cheaper in the long-run thanks to the lower costs of gas. Gas-powered heaters come in both propane-burning and natural gas variants, which you’ll need to know before you get them. Many homes don’t have natural gas lines, making electric heaters the more reasonable option.
In the case of electrical water heaters, they, of course, draw on your home’s electricity to heat the water. They tend to cost less up-front but can make your power bill higher over time, especially in the winter months.
Tank or Tankless Water Heater?
The next big question you need to ask is how the tank stores the hot water. The most common storage type is the tank-style water heater, which heats water continuously and pulls hot water from the top. As the hot water is pulled, cold water is added to the bottom to then be heated up. This ensures the tank is always full and allows for a continuous stream of hot water.
The other option is a tankless system, sometimes called on-demand systems, that have cold water pass through a heating element and come out of the faucet hot. This prevents the need for a storage tank but does run into flow issues when multiple sources call for hot water.
The options you choose will have as much to do with your home’s situation as anything. Do you have a lot of people that need hot water at once? Do you have room for a tank? Do you need to get an electric system since your home doesn’t have natural gas? Each home situation is different, and there’s a water heater for each type of home.