Most Common Water Heater Questions

We all know the basic functions of a water heater – tank, water, heat, and presto – a hot shower! But water heaters can be complex appliances, and your tenants will throw a fit if they are not performing perfectly. To help you navigate, we’ve compiled a list of common questions about the often-misunderstood water heater.

1. What do I need to know about tankless water heaters? 

The newest kids on the block are tankless water heaters. They heat water as you need it instead of filling up a tank and waiting for you to use it. The U.S. has lagged behind Europe in the use of these more efficient, greener heaters, which is ironic because the people of America bathe a good deal more than people in Europe. Tankless water heaters have their disadvantages, however. See number 4.

2. Are gas or electrical water heaters easier to repair?Water Heater Routine Maintenance

While homeowners might prefer gas water heaters to electrical water heaters because of their speedier recharge periods and lower operating costs, repair personnel tend to prefer working on electric water heaters. They are less hassle and feature simpler construction. They also won’t blow up if you make a mistake .

3. How long does a water heater last?

With proper care and maintenance, electric water heaters last 10–12 years. Gas water heaters last a slightly shorter time. Tankless water heaters last the longest of all at 20 years. The typical homeowner might have a water heater longer than they’re married! To get the most longevity out of a water heater, you can install anode rods inside it; these will corrode instead of the heater’s components.

4. Are new gadgets really worth it?

While “old-fashioned” gas or electric water heaters may seem outdated, they’ve got more going for them than you’d think. For example, tankless water heaters run 20–30 percent more efficiently than standard water heaters. Because of their much higher cost, however, the average homeowner needs 22 years of savings to equal the cost difference between tankless and standard. Given that tankless heaters last about 20 years, they often don’t even pay for themselves before they burn out. They’re also more likely to keep you busy as a repair person than standard heaters because they’re more temperamental.

5. How big is a typical water heater?

On average, each occupant of a house uses about eight gallons of hot water daily. For a small family, a 30- or 40-gallon water heater should suffice. If they have a bunch of kids, they might need 75 or 80 gallons for all the showers, baths, shaves, and clean dishes.

AO Smith Water Heater 6. How big of a water heater do I need?

Keep in mind that, in a 40-gallon tank, the whole 40 gallons is not always hot. Only about two-thirds is hot, and that can run out quickly if you have high-flow shower heads. To figure out how big of a tank you need, consider how many people will be using it and at what time. If you have 5 adults showering in the morning, a 40-gallon tank might not cut it.

7. What sets AO Smith water heaters apart?

Their chief advantage is the Permaglas tank lining, which inhibits corrosion and prevents leaks. Both of these benefits will make your job easier when you have to repair them. Also, AO Smith water heaters come equipped with DynaClean water jets that prevent excessive sediment buildup and the accumulation of lime, especially in hard water neighborhoods. There are two warranty options available with AO Smith water heaters: 4 years and 10 years. AO Smith water heaters are designed with repair professionals in mind, having many repair-friendly features as standard components.

To learn more about selecting the best water heater for you, check out our water heater buying guide. Additional training is available online and in live events through AO Smith University.

There are 11 comments so far

  • Emily
    2 years ago

    The last few days it has seemed like my water heater hasn’t been working so well. I can’t figure out what is wrong with it. It is good to know that water heaters last about ten to twelve years. I think mine is right around there. Maybe it needs to be replaced. I will have to call a plumber to get some more information.

  • Olivia Sherwin
    2 years ago

    This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that tankless water heaters are more efficient. My family just moved into an older home, and the water heater isn’t enough for all six of us to have hot showers in the morning. I’ll definitely talk to my husband about installing a tankless unit as an alternative. Thanks for the great post!

  • Jeff Curtis
    2 years ago

    I just moved into a new home with a gas water heater, and I am used to having an electric one. I think the water heater in this house is about 14 years old. How can I tell if it is time for a new one? Thanks for the great information, hopefully I won’t need to replace my water heater just quite yet.

  • Jen Pack
    2 years ago

    I really appreciate that this highlights the basic and most common questions when it comes to hot water heaters because I think we have all had at least one of these at some point. I really like how you point out that each person will have their own circumstances and will need a different size,service plan, etc. I imagine that having someone install them would also be a big part of the process. Thanks for sharing this!

  • Tara Allen
    2 years ago

    Water heaters, I think are essential for every home. Making sure to get your installation professionally done is a good way to save money in the long run. That is smart to research the different types of water heaters to find one that would work best for your home.

  • jime@waterheater
    2 years ago

    This information is so great .This site very importance talk about water heater.Awesome !!!!!!

  • Kenneth Gladman
    2 years ago

    We seem to run out of hot water often. I think we have a 40 gallon tank, but with the kids taking the showers of they do it isn’t cutting it. Would it be better to upgrade to a bigger tank or add another 40 gallon tank?

  • Jack Palmer
    2 years ago

    It was helpful to learn that, “With proper care and maintenance, electric water heaters last 10-12 years.” That’s a really long time! Longer than I ever expected one would last. I was even more surprised to learn that some can last up to 20 years! I’ll need to learn how to properly take care of ours. Thanks for your help.

  • bann
    2 years ago

    I definitely think that it is a good idea to be aware of how much money you spend on water heating. That way you can better know how to shave that cost down. It is a really good idea to do all that you can to conserve hot water. I will definitely have to install a water conserving shower head in my shower soon.

  • jime alase
    2 years ago

    These are all really good tips to stay aware of. Making sure that the faucets are in good condition and running is one of the ways to make sure your pipes are working. I also try to make sure that my heater runs during the winter time.

  • Jime Alase
    2 years ago

    Great blog right here! Thanks.

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