Older water heaters, electric and gas, are notorious for allowing hot water to seep back into the cold water lines that feed them.  Water is amazing in its versatility, and even more amazing as it changes physical states.  As water freezes, it expands in volume.  Try filling a bottle to its maximum capacity and then sticking that bottle in a freezer.  As the water becomes ice, it expands and damages the bottle it is confined in. The same thing is true for water when it is heated.  A 40 gallon water heater that holds 40 gallons of cold water can not hold the same 40 gallons when heated to 120 degrees.  So where does the extra water go?   How do you prevent damage to your water heater?   In the past, the water released back into the cold water line, pushing backward towards the source.  This greatly decreased the efficiency of the water heater, and caused damage to other appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines.

A dripping Temperature and Pressure Relief (T&P) Valve on the water heater is an indicator of a potential thermal expansion problem. This is the valve with the small handle or lever that automatically opens when either the temperature or pressure inside the heater tank exceed a set limit (usually 150psi/210°F). These are emergency valves, and are not meant to operate regularly. When one of them leaks, the first step is usually to replace the valve. 

 

ITEM ID: WAT LF100XL

 The solution to this thermal expansion problem is to install a Thermal Expansion Tank above the supply water inlet on your water heater (JON R15202).  These tanks feature a rubber bladder that separates an air chamber from the rest of the tank.  Air is pumped into the tank to match the pressure of the water supply.  When water expands while being heated in the water heater, it enters the expansion tank, compressing the air.  Once expansion has stopped and there is room in the heater, the compressed air pushes the water back into the heater.  

ITEM ID: JON R15202

It is required by codes throughout our country to have one of these tanks installed with each new water heater installation.  All manufacturers, including American Water Heater, recommend that you install an expansion tank with all new heaters.  A Thermal Expansion tank is an economical and practical way to protect your new water heater from damage.  It will increase the efficiency of your heater, and keep it running safely for many years.

 

Thermal Expansion Tank Installation Diagram

 

My 14-year-old water heater seems to be working fine, but should I think about replacing it soon?

The Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program recommends replacing water heaters that are more than 10 years old; however, age isn't the only factor to consider.  At 14, your water heater is most likely out of warranty.  If it's several years past coverage, it might be a good time to look for a replacement. Also, due to 2015 federal standards, today's water heaters are more energy efficient.  Compared with your old one, a new water heater can cut your utility bill significantly - especially if it is Energy Star certified. Heating water is the second-largest expense in our homes, according to the Department of Energy, accounting for 14% to 18% of our utility bills.

Item ID: AME G6240T40

If you decide to buy, a new water heater for your home can cost anywhere from $300 - $3000 depending on the size and type.  Installation fees can add hundreds of dollars more.  

Deciding if you should repair or replace your water heater is an important decision.

Most people do not think about their water heater until there is a problem, then you have to make a quick decision, 'Do I repair my existing heater? or do I purchase a new one?' Here are a few things to consider to help you make a more informed decision.

Item ID: AMEE6N-40R

THE AGE OF THE WATER HEATER

  • Is the heater still under warranty? If so, then repairing the unit may be the best solution.
  • The older the heater is, the more likely it is to break down. Newer models can provide energy saving, so if the unit is older than 10 years, you may be able to reduce your monthly operating costs by replacing the older unit with a new, more energy efficient model.

THE WATER HEATER IS LEAKING

  • If the unit is leaking, then it may be time to replace before any further damage is done to the surrounding area.
  • Leaking tanks may result from years of rust and corrosion caused by contaminants in the incoming water. Once the tank has been breached, then your only choice may be to replace the unit

THE WATER HEATER IS NOT PROVIDING ENOUGH HOT WATER

  • Times change and your hot water needs change too. A smaller unit may have served you well before, but due to increased demands, growing family, home & bath remodeling, your needs may surpass the units capacity. In this case, you may need to change your habits or purchase a larger capacity unit.

We proudly sell high-quality American Water Heaters made right here in Tennessee. 

Item ID: AMEE1E2.5US015V

How to Choose the Right American Water Heater to meet your needs

Ensure that you select the right water heater for your needs by asking a few simple questions. The answers to the questions below will help you make the right purchasing decision:

  • What is the gallon capacity of the old water heater?
  • What wattage (KW) and voltage is the old electric water heater?
  • What type of fuel (natural gas or propane gas) is the old gas water heater?
  • What exhaust vent diameter is used on the old gas water heater?
  • What are the dimensions of the old water heater (Diameter ____ Height ____ )?
  • Did your old water heater provide enough hot water?

OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER

If someone is running out of hot water in the household it could be due to items such as oversized or jetted tubs, using multiple consecutive showers or several large loads of laundry. A larger capacity water heater should be considered.

  • Gas units: Check to make sure exhaust vent will handle a larger water heater with more BTU input.
  • If a family is planning to stay in their home for a long period of time, models made with a longer warranty should be considered. It's less expensive when installation and maintenance expenses are considered.
  • Electric units: If the water heater has hard water that leaves deposits on fixtures and requires frequent replacement of heating elements, self-cleaning models should be considered.