Water Heater FAQ

Water Heaters 101

You take your water heater for granted. Every time you turn on the faucet, you expect hot water. When you step into the shower, you expect hot water. But one day your faucets and showerheads will greet you with an unpleasant surprise and your attention will finally turn to that long-neglected appliance in your basement, garage or utility room.

It’s time to get familiar with the water heater so that you’ll know what to when the time comes to replace it.

Types of Water Heaters

Not all water heaters are created alike, but they fall into three general categories:

Storage Heaters: The most common of all water heaters is the storage heater or storage tank heater, which features a large storage tank that heats and stores water until it is needed. Storage heaters can run on gas or electricity, and they can even be combined with solar technology to heat the water.


• Can supply consistent hot water to many outlets at once

• Least expensive in upfront costs

• Adding a solar heater can save on water heating costs over time


• Least energy-efficient model

• Must be regularly drained

• Adding a solar heater can increase upfront costs over other options

• Take up a lot of space

Tankless Heaters: Tankless heaters provide hot water on demand but do not store it. The water is heated instantaneously when it is needed.


• Take up less space than a tank storage heater

• Most energy-efficient model


• Higher upfront cost than with a traditional storage heater

• May need multiple heaters to meet demand

Heat Pumps: An electric heat pump also features a storage tank. Still, instead of generating all of the heat for the water, it draws in outside air and transfers its heat energy to the water via tubing, refrigerant, and pressure. These heaters often include a backup heating element, such as is found in traditional storage tank heaters, to provide hot water consistently at times of high demand.


• Can supply consistent hot water to many outlets at once

• More energy efficient than traditional storage tank heaters

• Can cool the room where they’re placed


• Higher upfront costs than with storage tank heaters

• Need additional clearance around the heater

• Work poorly in colder climates

• Don’t heat water as quickly as storage heaters

Maintaining Water Heaters

The kind of maintenance your water heater needs depends on the type that you have.

Maintaining Storage Heaters

• Test pressure-relief valve regularly

• Drain and flush the storage tank twice a year

• Check plumbing fittings for leaks at regular intervals

Maintaining Tankless Heaters

• Flush heater at least once a year

• Check plumbing fittings for leaks at regular intervals

Maintaining Heat Pumps

• Follow the above maintenance for storage water heaters

• Clean air filters at regular intervals.

Should You Replace Your Water Heater?

Water heaters can last ten years or longer, but even the best heaters eventually need to be replaced or repaired. The signs your heater needs repair or replacement include:

• heater leaks

• inadequate heating of the water

• loud noises emanating from the heater

• rusty water

• rusty heater inlet

• heater age is over ten years old

Water Heater Assistance

If you need your heater repaired or replaced, it pays to hire an experienced plumber to do the job. At DoneRite Plumbing, we are experts at installing, repairing, and helping you to maintain your water heater. Contact us today at (503) 342-7782 to learn how we can meet your water heater needs.