Tips for Selecting and Maintaining a Hot Water Heater

When your home’s water heater unexpectedly stops working, you will need to replace it immediately. Because you do not have working hot water, you may feel rushed to make a decision. And of course, you do need to regain access to hot water as soon as possible. However, you also want to put some thought into your choice of water heater, since it could last you for the next 15 years.
Shower head using hot water Water Heater
Here is what you need to know about selecting a hot water heater and maintaining it so it lasts as long as possible.

Hot Water Heater Selection

There are two things you should definitely consider when selecting a hot water heater.

Fuel Type

When replacing a hot water heater, many homeowners decide to go with a model that uses the same type of fuel as their previous hot water tank did. However, now is the time to change the type of fuel you use if you want to.

For instance, if you previously had an electric hot water heater, you can use this opportunity to switch to one that is powered by natural gas. A gas water heater is going to be more efficient at heating your home’s hot water, doing the job at twice the speed of an electric hot water heater. The downside will be a higher cost for the heater itself, additional installation costs to run a gas line, and labor to vent the unit.

Tank Size

While your current hot water heater may have been serving the needs of your home just fine, you should start thinking about the future needs in your household. When homeowners replace their water heater, they often upgrade to a bigger one to accommodate the needs of their growing families.

Water heaters are rated based on how many gallons of water they can produce during the first hour. You can use a worksheet to determine approximately how much water your family uses during peak times. Your calculations will consider factors such as the number of people showering, number of loads of laundry washed, and time spent washing dishes to determine the right size of water heater for your home.

You may be surprised to learn how much hot water you actually need when four people are trying to shower every morning.

Hot Water Heater Maintenance

Once the hot water heater is installed, you’ll still need to think about it. One problem you need to be aware of is the buildup of sediment inside the tank. Buildup happens because there are minerals in the water supply that eventually get into the reserve tank. When enough sediment gathers in the tank, the buildup will cause problems with tank operation.

Sediment can cause a banging sound as it hits the side of the tank and can require your water heater to use more energy to heat the water. To prevent these problems, you must find ways to eliminate sediment.

Water Filtration

You can get rid of sediment by filtering it out of the water before it enters the tank. You can install a water filtration system on the main water line before the water reaches the heater. The filter will ensure that all water in the tank will be free of sediment, and you will have fewer issues with the tank.


The alternative to installing a filtration system is to periodically drain the tank to flush out any sediment that has collected. The process is as simple as turning off the heater, connecting a hose to the drain at the bottom of the tank, and letting all of the sediment flow out of the tank along with the water.

For more information, consult your plumber. If you need help selecting, installing, or maintaining a hot water heater, know that Cleary Plumbing can help.