Buyer 101- Types of Water Heaters Explained

close up photo of a shower head

Small components of a home also come into play when inspecting your dream home and we will tackle water heaters in this edition of Buyer 101. While not as costly as some of the topics that I have covered it is still an important one and one the buyers typically over emphasis when inspecting their home. Let’s look at some of the different types of water heaters you will see in the home and what make each one stands out from the other and what some of the downsides of each type.

Conventional Storage Tanked Water Heaters By far the most common type of water heating system you will find when touring homes in The Valley and a component of the home that almost everyone will recognize. Because these systems have tanks, they are less efficient than other types of water heaters especially if you have an older tanked water heater. This is because they are heating or maintaining the hot water even when it is not needed. We also have very hard water here in Arizona and the tanks will slowly begin to fill with sediment if not properly flushed on a routine schedule. Your tanked system does come with what is called a sacrificial anode rod that is made of aluminum or magnesium to attract iron, limestone, or other minerals to combat sediment gathering in the tank. This rod can be replaced, and
your tanked system can continue providing hot water for your home. The downside of these systems, they might be less efficient, but the upside is that they are less expensive to install and maintain.

Tankless Water Heaters Just like is sounds a tankless water heater or an on-demand water heater has no tank and only heats water when it is needed. In addition to being more efficient than a tanked system, they are also much smaller and will save you space in your garage or less of an eye sore on the side of your home. They are more expensive to install upfront but over time will pay you back in energy savings and lower maintenance costs. This pay back may take longer than you would expect so it may only make sense to replace your tanked system at the very end of its life rather than making the switch simply to be efficient at any cost. The last downside I do want to mention is that these tankless systems do have their limitations and may not work for large families as too much demand at one time will have
you running out of water as the system tries to keep up.

Solar Water Heaters While not as common as the other systems these will use the power of the Arizona Sun to heat the water instead of electricity or natural gas. These systems are highly efficient but will most likely have a storage tank(s) as well as solar collectors on your roof. These systems have many different types and varieties with some working better in our client than others so be sure to research and speak to a plumbing professional about what system will work best for you. They are also the most expensive to maintain and may require a back up system hot water is needed at night or if there is an interruption of sun light during a storm or low temperatures.

When purchasing and inspecting your new home, its hot water heater will be a main point of focus as an integral system of the home. Your home inspector and your agent will help explain what type of system you have, if is using electricity or gas to heat the water, the pros and cons of that system, its condition, and if additional profession inspections or replacement options are needed. If the system is at or near the end of its life but is still working, it is good to know and plan for that near term expense. If the system is not functioning properly, it could be an item you and your agent can request be fixed or replaced during that all important inspection period.

Written by: Colby Schmeckpeper

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