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Plumbing Tips & Advice

Plumbing Tips & Advice (5)

New Water Heater Technology That Provides More Hot Water While Saving Energy

Roanoke hot water heatersWhen you think of water heaters, the first thing that may come to mind is the conventional tank storage water heater. Tank water heaters store between 20 to 80 gallons of hot water and are relatively inexpensive to purchase and install. However, because they must maintain a set temperature for a large volume of water, they can be more costly to operate. In addition, if the tank is not sized to meet the needs of the household, you may run out of hot water when demand exceeds the tank's capacity.

Newer water heater technology is designed to address some of the shortcomings of the traditional tank-style water heater.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless, or demand-type water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. A gas burner or electric element heats the cold water as it passes through the water heater. Households that require a lot of hot water can benefit the from a virtually endless supply of hot water. One downside to tankless water heaters is they typically cost more to purchase and install, although they can last longer than conventional tank water heaters when properly maintained. Another disadvantage of tankless water heaters is they can take longer to heat the water initially when the tap is first turned on.

Hybrid Water Heaters

Hybrid water heaters are designed to combine the benefits of a conventional water heater tank with a tankless water heater's on-demand efficiency. They have a small attached storage tank that provides an initial supply of hot water, then switch to an on-demand heating system to maintain a continuous supply of hot water.

Heat Pump Water Heaters

Heat pump water heaters distribute heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly to providing hot water.

Solar Water Heaters

Solar water heaters use the sun's heat to heat water. A roof-mounted solar collector absorbs the sun's heat and stores it in a special fluid that circulates in a closed-loop system that heats water in a tank.

Have questions about which water heater is right for your home? Call Ostrom, we can help match the best hot water solution to your household's needs.
Many water heater manufacturers set the thermostat of water heater's at the factory to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. For most households, this is often too high. One rule of thumb: if you can't hold your hand under the tap with the water on it's hottest setting, the water heater is likely turned up too high, and it's wasting energy. Setting the temperature too high also increases the risk of scalding, of particular concern if there are young children or elderly residents in the home.

In most households the water heater is the most energy intensive appliance, second only to the air conditioner and furnace. Turning the temperature down 20 degrees can save 6 to 10 percent on energy costs. Setting the water heater temperature to 120 Fahrenheit works well in most cases.  If you're finding that 120 F is leaving you wishing the water was hotter, gradually adjust the setting upward until a comfortable setting is achieved.

Have questions abut your water heater? Give us a call. It's your home, trust Ostrom.
If you have noticed that your water heater is not getting the water hot enough even after turning up the thermostat, there are a number of possible causes.
  1. The Dip Tube Is Broken - Cold water enters the water heater through the dip tube where it is forced to the bottom of the tank for quick heating. When the tube is broken the water remains at the top of the tank, where the hot water outlet is, causing it to return cold water with the heated water.
  2. Sediment Has Built Up at the Bottom of the Tank - Over time, minerals in the water can build up at the bottom of the water heater tank where the burner is located. This causes a gradual reduction in heating efficiency that will make the water heater work harder and eventually resulting in less hot water. Flushing the tank annually will prevent sediment build up.
  3. The Heating System Is Malfunctioning Most water heater problems occur with these systems: the thermal switch, thermostat or heating element. A licensed plumber should inspect the water heater and repair the pasts as needed.
  4. Hot Water Heater Is Too Far From Where It's Needed - If the water eventually heats up, the problem is sometime a hot water tank that is too far from where it's needed. In the cold months in particular, pipes will cool the hot water before it reaches the faucet where it's needed. Insulating the pipes can help reduce heat loss.
  5. The Water Heater Tank Is Undersized - If you have recently noticed that your water heater suddenly seems to supply less hot water, or runs out suddenly, it could be that your water heater tank is too small to keep up with demand. Installing a larger tank or tankless water heater will ensure that you have all the water your household needs.
Have questions about your water heater? Call Ostrom, we're here to help.
When it comes to preventing plumbing problems around the home, being aware of the early warning signs can make the difference between a major repair and damage to your home, or a simple do-it-yourself fix.

When inspecting a water heater, look for the following:
  1. Is the water heater consistently producing hot water? Sudden drops in hot water supply could signal a problem with the burner, or a build up of sediment in the tank.
  2. Check for unusual sounds. Gurgling sounds coming from a hot water heater are often a sign that sediment has built up at the bottom of the tank. Flushing the tank regularly can prevent sediment build up.
  3. Are there burn marks at the base of the water heater? This is often a symptom of back drafting. Because this is a safety issue, have the water heater inspected by a professional plumber.
  4. Check for proper ventilation. Ensure the draft hood is securely connected. The flu should be properly connected using a minimum of three screws per joint. Flues that are run into a chimney should be properly lined and connected to prevent carbon monoxide from re-entering the home.
  5. Is there a drain pan under the water heater? If the tank is on an upper level of the home, a drain pan will ensure that water leaks do not cause damage to the floor and ceiling below.
  6. Ensure a drip pipe is in place and is not leaking. The T&P or pressure relief valve should have a pipe that extends 6 inches from the floor.
  7. Keep combustable materials away from the water heater.
Need help with your water heater? Call Ostrom, we can help.

Water softeners are designed to remove minerals from a home's water supply that can cause problems with plumbing fixtures, laundry, drinking water and more. Hard water contains excessive deposits of calcium and magnesium carbonates causing a range of problems, including:
  • Spotting on dishes and cutlery
  • Streaking on shower doors and plumbing fixtures
  • Reduced effectiveness of laundry detergents and soaps
  • Faucets and shower heads that clog, reducing water flow
  • Clothes that look dull and feel less soft
  • Skin that feels drier and less clean
Today's home water softeners can solve all these problems cost effectively with little maintenance. Have questions about whether a water softener can help in your home? Give Ostrom a call. A water treatment specialists will analyze your home's water and recommend solutions for cleaner, better tasting water.
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