We’ve written a lot about what you should look for when deciding on a water heater. Now, we will give you a list of some red flags to look out for when it comes to choosing a water heater. Now you can get a more complete picture of what to look for when buying a water heater.
1. Big Box Stores
When looking at water heaters, there are two tiers of quality you should know about:
Box store water heaters and professional grade water heaters.
Big box stores give you the illusion of value because you might be able to get a water heater for less money than if you went through a plumber and got a professional-grade water heater. You might even be able to get it installed for less or install it by yourself completely free.
However, that illusion of value is shattered when your cheap water heater inevitably breaks. You’re probably going to end up shelling out more money to replace a water heater that you saved upfront on. In addition to that, you’ll have to deal with the headache of going without hot water and spending who knows how much time trying to get it fixed.
Most of the time, these box store heaters aren’t worth repairing. Most plumbers won’t even work on them.
Instead of going to a box store for your water heater, get one through a plumber that works with distributors of professional-grade water heaters. Professional-grade water heaters are higher quality and a safer purchase than box store water heaters.
If you’d like to learn more about why big box store heaters are worse than professional-grade heaters, check out our blog post Box Stores vs. Professional-Grade: The Major Differences. This article dives into the technical aspects of what makes box store heaters fail at a higher rate than professional-grade heaters.
In short, if you go to a big box store for your water heater you may be able to save money upfront, but you’ll end up spending more on the backend when the heater fails sooner than a professional-grade water heater from a plumber would.
2. Buying the Wrong Sized Water Heater
If you’re not thinking critically about what your family needs, you may run into this mistake that’s all too easy to make.
You’ll know pretty quickly if you have a water heater in your home that’s too small. As you might expect, with a too-small water heater you will be perpetually running out of hot water.
On the other hand, if you buy a heater that’s too big you’ll end up spending more money than you need to for a water heater that far exceeds what your highest hot water demands could ever be. That’s a waste of money, space, and energy. In other words, also not good, but at least you won’t get surprised by cold showers.
If you’re buying a tank heater, then your best bet is to make a rough estimate based on the size of your family and how many outlets you expect to be using hot water at the same time. Naturally, more hot water use and a larger family means you’ll need to get a larger tank.
The best way to size a water heater for your family is to consider what the maximum amount of hot water used within an hour might be.
In this article from energy.gov, you can find a table that will help you estimate the ideal size of your tank water heater.
Now, if you’re looking for a tankless heater, sizing that is a whole other story. We’ve already covered how to size tankless heaters in a past blog. Here’s the link where you can find how to determine your tankless needs and find the right-sized water heater.
3. Getting A Water Heater That Uses The Wrong Type Of Energy
If you get a water heater that doesn’t work with the energy type available to your home, you may not even be able to install it. You’ll typically see three types of water heaters when it comes to energy: Natural gas, propane, and electric.
We recommend gas heaters to most of our customers. Gas-powered water heaters are usually more powerful and result in cheaper monthly costs because they’re more efficient. Gas is usually a better option, though not always. If you don’t have access to a natural gas line, then propane or electric-powered water heaters can be a good alternative. To be certain about which energy type is best for you, be sure to talk about your best option with a professional technician. They’ll be able to guide you through what your best option is.
4. Buying Without Looking at All Your Options
When it comes to water heaters, there are more options than you may have thought initially. Before you commit to a decision, let’s walk through some different options you might have.
One big choice that everyone should be aware of is tank vs. tankless. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, but it’s good to know what those are so that you can think about your options and make the best decision for your family.
Some benefits of tankless water heaters are that they require less maintenance, have optional features like recirculation for instant hot water, and can be more environmentally friendly. That said, they also cost more upfront so you’ll have to weigh that in when choosing.
If you’d like to think more about choosing a tank versus a tankless water heater, we have several blog posts on the topic that are perfect for your research.
As a reminder, you’ll want to avoid:
- Big box stores
- Buying the wrong sized heater
- Getting a water heater that uses the wrong kind of energy
- Buying without looking at all your options
When selecting a water heater, it’s best to think about what will meet your needs and save you money in the long run. Be sure to talk your choice over or ask for recommendations from a professional water heater installer who will be able to best understand your needs and how to meet them.
If you’re in the Minneapolis metro or Rochester area, give us a call if you’re looking for a new water heater. We’d love to help!