Traditional water heaters typically last 10 to 15 years. If you’re a homeowner, you’ll probably need to replace at least one water heater, sooner or later. We all rely on quick and easy access to hot water in our homes, so it’s helpful to hire a contractor that will act fast when you need to replace your water heater. In Central Virginia, Fitch Services can help, often with same-day installation!
Choosing a replacement water heater
Whether you need an emergency replacement or you have time to make careful considerations, it’s important to understand your replacement options. Here’s what you’ll need to know:
- type of water heater you currently have
- gas or electric powered
- tank capacity
Usually, you can find these details on the water heater label. If you’re not sure, Fitch Services can help. Call us and we’ll either walk you through identifying your current setup or we’ll send out a technician for a consultation. Once you know what you currently have, you can investigate options. The biggest decisions you’ll need to make are probably:
- Capacity – does your current tank provide adequate hot water for your family? If so, you’re probably fine to keep the same capacity. If you frequently run out of hot water, consider increasing the tank size. If your family size has decreased, you could consider reducing capacity to save energy; a smaller tank won’t need as much energy to keep the water hot. Fitch Services can also provide advice about the appropriate size for your household.
- Tankless vs. traditional – tankless water heaters are a fairly new technology available to homeowners; see the section below for further detail!
- Professional vs DIY installation – many homeowners feel comfortable installing a new water heater; however, there are clear benefits to professional installation. At Fitch Services, our installation team includes a licensed plumber. Our professional installation will provide careful draining of your current tank to protect your home and belongings, a safe connection to your power source, and proper venting as needed. We also will remove and dispose of your old tank, saving you the hassle!
Tankless vs storage (traditional) water heaters
A traditional water heater, also called a storage water heater, preheats and stores water in a large tank; once that water is used, the tank refills and is heated again.
Tankless water heaters, also called demand water heaters, do not store any water; they heat water on-demand as it is needed in the home. Tankless water heaters are the preferred solution for some homeowners.
The benefits can be clear. Tankless heaters are significantly smaller and open up a lot of space for other uses. The lifespan of a tankless heater is typically longer, sometimes more than 20 years (compared to 10 to 15 years for a traditional heater). With on-demand capability, it’s also harder to run out of hot water.
In spite of the advantages, the upfront installation cost of tankless water heaters in central Virginia often does not make it a worthwhile investment for homeowners. The initial cost of a tankless heater and its installation is often double the price of a traditional heater. When we’ve helped homeowners do the math over the lifetime of the unit, a traditional water heater is usually the more economic option. However, here are some situations where a tankless system is the better choice:
- Appliance booster
- Bathroom remodels or home additions, where you can install an onsite tankless system to provide water for one bathroom
- New construction, where there is no cost to retrofit a traditional water heater
- Smaller families who use less hot water daily. According to energy.gov, when daily hot water requirements do not exceed 41 gallons, “…demand water heaters can be 24%–34% more energy efficient than conventional storage tank water heaters” and reduce your energy costs by up to $100/month. (As a point of reference, an average American family of four may use 100 gallons of daily hot water!)
If you’re interested in considering a tankless water heater, Fitch Services can provide an estimate for both types of water heaters, tank (traditional) and tankless (demand), for your consideration.
What to do if your water heater leaks
First, turn off the water to the tank. There should be a shutoff to the tank itself; if you can’t find that you can turn off the water to your house. The next step for Central Virginia homeowners is to call Fitch Services for an appointment. We can often get the information we need about a replacement tank in that first phone call with you and schedule a same-day installation appointment!