Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can the water heater be repaired if it’s leaking?
A: Water accumulating on the floor or in the drain pan is generally caused by one of the following conditions:

  • Condensation
  • Drain valve leak
  • Temperature and pressure relief valve leak
  • Leak from piping on or near the inlet and outlet
  • Leak at gas valve threaded connection (gas models only)
  • Leak from gaskets for electric elements (electric models only)
  • Leak in heater tank

A leaking water heater tank is continuous, it does not stop and start. If the water is coming and going, you may have a condensation issue. Condensation can form when a water heater is overused. Call Express Water Heater Service if you see water around your water heater tank.

Q: Why does my hot water run out so quickly now?
A: In some cases, the dip tube on the cold water inlet has broken or is worn. This creates a short loop for the water leaving the water at the bottom of the tank unused.
Electric water heaters commonly have two heating elements – first the top element heats up the top of the tank, then the power moves to the lower element. If the lower element is out, only the top of the tank gets heated. If the top element isn’t working, there will be no hot water.
Sometimes the reset button needs to be pushed to reset. If this doesn’t get the element working, then the element may have shorted out and replacement of the element may be needed. In either case, call Express Water Heater Service.

Q: Should water heaters be flushed and drained regularly?
A: Yes. Annual flushing and draining of your water heater is recommended to promote a long, useful life. Removing sediment that accumulates in the bottom of the water heater improves the water quality as well as the heating efficiency. Clean water decreases the amount of energy required to heat the water, resulting in lower energy costs. Flushing and draining gives a qualified technician the chance to inspect your water heater during the cleaning process to look for any impending problems before they become an emergency. Call Express Water Heater Service.

A: Recovery Rate is the amount of hot water the water heater is capable of providing in a given period of time. This is sometimes confused with first hour rating, which includes recovery rate plus 70 percent of the tank capacity. The amount of hot water provided will depend on several things: Wattage of the heating elements in an electric water heater, temperature rise, and the time frame used to measure the recovery rate.

Example: If the wattage is 4,500 on the elements, the incoming water temperature is 40 degrees, and you are heating the water to 120 degrees (temperature rise of 80 degrees) the recovery rate is 23.0 GPH.

A: First Hour Rating is a calculated amount used to explain the performance abilities of a water heater within the first hour of use when recovered to the thermostat setting. In other words, when determining the first hour rating you will start with a fully heated tank of water.

Approximate first hour rating can be determined with the following formula:
Tank Capacity x .70 + Recovery = First Hour Rating.

Example: If the water heater is 40 gallons and the heating elements are 5,500 watts (electric water heater), 40(gallons) x .7(70 percent of the tank capacity) + 22.5(GPH at 80 degree rise in temp) = 50.5 gallons first hour rating.

Why multiply by 0.70? The amount of water in the tank is multiplied by 70 percent because as water is being used, new cold water is entering the tank and diluting some of the heated water.
The thermostat senses the cold water introduced into the tank and begins the heating process again.

Q: How can I determine which water heater is right for me?
A: Choosing a water heater is based on your family size and how much hot water you will use in one continuous hour. This is called Peak Hour Demand.

Q: How high do I have to set the temperature control on my water heater to make sure I have an adequate supply of hot water?
A: Most people are comfortable with their hot water set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is pre-set by manufacturers. If you have an older model water heater, set the thermostat at medium. On gas models there is a dial on the front of the gas valve. On electric models the thermostat (there may be two) is concealed behind one or both panels on the side of the tank. WARNING: Turn the power supply OFF to the water heater at circuit breaker panel before removing the panels to set the thermostat(s).

Q: When the water heater is operating, I hear a banging, bubbling, rumbling sound. Should I get it checked out?
A: You are hearing boiling water that is trapped in sediment or a layer of mineral deposits inside the bottom of the water heater tank. Although not a cause for alarm, it means the water heater is not operating efficiently. Per the water heater manufacturer’s instructions, you should drain the tank for about five minutes every year. If your water is especially high in iron, calcium or minerals, you should drain it more often. You drain it by running a hose from the faucet on the bottom front of the tank to a drain or outside the house. Do NOT drain it into a toilet! The hot water may crack the porcelain. If your water heater is an older model that has not been drained regularly, the buildup of sediment may be too much to drain out, and it will gradually heat less efficiently until it must be replaced. Newer models have a feature that prevents or greatly reduces sediment buildup.

Q: With two kids in the house, my wife and I always run out of hot water by the fourth shower. What can I do?
A: Check the shower head volume. A new shower head releases about 2.5 gallons a minute while some older heads release 5 gallons a minute. Changing the shower head would double the shower length in this case.

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