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Time to Organize Your Basement or Garage
Installing a New Skylight
Consider These Options in Carpeting
Consider These Options in Fireplaces
Preparing to Replace the Drywall
Enhance Your Furniture with Slipcovers
Shopping for a Gas Fireplace
Finishing Your Living Room Walls
Shopper's Guide for Hot Water Heaters
Steps to a Better Garage
The Proper Way to Finish Hardwood Floors
When It's Time to Re-Do the Dining Room
Making Your Carpet Look New Again
Changing the Atmosphere by Changing the Lights
Let's Visit Your Home's Crawl Space
Your Guide to Doors & Deadbolts
Coffered Ceilings
Guide to Air Purifiers

Shopper's Guide for Hot Water Heaters

I remember as a kid, seeing that big white thing in the basement and wondering what it was. Then my parents told me it was a hot water heater, and I thought okay but how does it work?  Do we come down here when we want hot chocolate and get water out of it?  So in case you're wondering, your hot water takes a portion of your the water coming into your house, and heats it using a heating element inside, to a temperature pre-set by you (between 120 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit). It then pushes the water out through the pipe to your sinks, shower, etc.

The problem with some water heaters is that the water can sometimes cause rusting, and hence leaks. As a result, you'll see the dreaded puddle of water on the floor in the basement or garage, and realize you have a problem. The bigger problem is that a bad water heater probably means you're going to have to replace it. Before you spend that money, though, make sure that the water heater is actually the source of that excess water on the floor.

To figure this out, first conduct an inspection of the hot water heater,  See if you can find any spot that looks rusted. If not, you probably have a leak somewhere else. But if there is clear rusting, it's time to shop for a new water heater.  Even now, though, don't jump into the process blindly.  You need to do some research into the matter. Hot water heaters have evolved since the last time many people have went shopping for one. There are now varieties and choices including solar, tankless coil, indirect, demand, conventional-storage and heat-pump versions.  There are, in fact, some water heaters that you can directly connect to your house's space-heating system.

If you choose the conventional heater, there is another choice: a choice of fuels. You can select oil, natural gas, propane, or electricity. You can also choose how big of a heater you want:  anything from a 20-gallon to 80-gallon version (There are a few others, too, but they're not as common or popular).  Whichever one you get, if yo buy a newer model, it's likely to be an energy-saving version, since energy-saving features have been all the rage on hot water heaters in recent years. This will mean a savings to you when you operate the appliance.

The advantage of a demand water heater is that it eliminates standby heat-loss, even as it lowers energy consumption 25 to 30 percent. There's no storage tank on the demand heater, because cold water goes straight through a pipe inside of it, and then an electric or gas burner heats it as it's pumped out.  For this reason, you never run out of heated water. The disadvantage of the demand heater is that, because the water is heated as it's pumped, the water flow tends to be lower.

The tankless coil heater doesn't have a separate tank; water heats right in the boiler. It tends to be more efficient in colder months, but less efficient in hotter months. And finally, an indirect water heater needs a storage tank and runs much like a tankless coil does; water passes straight through its heat exchanger found within the boiler. The main difference is that the hot water then goes to a well-insulated storage tank. Because the boiler doesn't operate as frequently, this generally offers better year-round efficiency than the tankless coil does.

A salesman at the appliance store can help you better understand which model is for you.

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