If you've just installed a tank-style water heater, either because you're converting from a tankless one or because you've bought your first home and are replacing the old heater, you need to be aware of what to expect. Owning and caring for a tank-style water heater is a lot different than having a tankless style, or leaving all the maintenance to an apartment manager. As the owner of a new tank-style heater, you'll find you have greater control over the water temperature, but you'll also need to be aware of how your use of the water affects your day.
Excessive Hot Water Use
Tank-style water heaters hold a lot of water—as much as 80 gallons at a time if you get a very large one. This makes it seem like there is endless hot water if one person decides to shower, for example. But if you have a lot of demand, such as multiple showers, a couple of washer loads, and a dishwasher running, those gallons go quickly. While water coming into the tank will be warmed up, you could find the water temperature a bit low if all that water use happens in a short amount of time because that doesn't give the new water a chance to warm up that much.
Hot water tanks can trap sediment that comes in with the water. Normally this sediment is tiny and gets trapped by faucet screens anyway, but over months and years, it can build up and gradually reduce the holding capacity of your water heater. Flushing the tank every one to three years helps remove this sediment. Flushing sounds difficult, but it's very straightforward.
Tank water heaters hold hot water constantly, so it's crucial that you keep the hot water heater temperature at 120 degrees F (a little over 45 degrees C) to avoid Legionella contamination. Legionella is a bacteria that exists in nature in North America. Even if you have a tankless system, you can have a water supply that has Legionella in it. However, warm water that is under 120 degrees F can make the Legionella grow and multiply, increasing your risk of contracting Legionnaire's disease. The solution is simple -- always keep that thermostat on the water heater at 120 degrees F or hotter.
If you live in a quake zone, you need to brace the water heater tank with brackets bolted to the wall. Otherwise, shaking could cause the tank to fall over and spill all that water. Remember, even if your city isn't near a fault zone, it can still get shaking from strong quakes in other areas of the country. For example, the 2010 Easter quake in Baja California caused skyscrapers in Phoenix to sway, even though Phoenix is not known for having an earthquake risk.
Tank-style water heaters provide a lot of consistently hot water, and they can be easy to care for. You just have to be aware of how they differ from tankless heaters. If you have other questions, contact a plumber at a company like Belfair Plumbing & Drain Service.