Plumbing Inspection: Questions to ask Your Plumber About a Water Heater

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Don't overlook your water heater during a plumbing inspection

Many folks, especially new home buyers, enlist the services of a professional plumber or inspector to perform a thorough plumbing inspection of their property. While sewage lines, water supply lines and plumbing fixtures are of the most concern, you should not overlook the water heater. A water heater is the silent workhorse of the plumbing system that maintains water temperature for your everyday hot water needs. Listed below are common questions you should consider asking regarding a water heater during a plumbing inspection.

How old is the water heater?
Many decades ago, it was not unheard of for a water heater to last twenty years or more. Most folks can remember that big, bulky, square contraption your grandma called a “Hot” water heater. Unfortunately, things today are not made the way they used to be. According to energy.gov, a water heater’s lifespan is about 10 years for a storage tank system and 20 years for tankless systems. While their energy efficiency and the technology used to make them have improved tremendously, it seems their durability has decreased. Ask your plumbing inspector to verify the age of the water heater. The age is often included in the serial number, however this can vary depending on manufacturer and can be hard to decipher. Water heaters approaching the end of their lifespan will soon need replacement.

Is the size of the water heater adequate for this home?
The size of the water heater is crucial in its ability to maintain and deliver an adequate supply of hot water to your family. Recent models provide the FHR “First Hour Rating” on the EnergyGuide label. The rating represents the amount of hot water produced by the appliance during a busy hour. The following example is a common method used by plumbers to determine an appropriate size water heater. First, approximately twelve gallons of hot water is allotted per person in the household. Next, the number of bedrooms plus one determines the home’s maximum occupancy. For example, a three bedroom home would have an expected occupancy of four. Multiplying this number by the twelve-gallon allotment above equals forty-eight, the minimum FHR this home requires for adequate hot water.

What type of water heater is it?
Today, there are many types of water heaters available and it would be beneficial for you to know which type you have. Ask your plumber to verify whether it is gas, solar or electric powered. In addition, you want to know whether it is a storage tank system — stores hot water in a tank — or an on demand/tankless system that produces hot water as you need it.

For answers to your questions and plumbing inspections, contact The Pink Plumber today.

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