Gas Water Heaters
Gas water heaters vary from flash or tankless water heaters to traditional water heaters which store hot water in tanks. Gas heaters have advantages and disadvantages, like any type of water heater. Before buying a gas water heater, it is important to understand the pros and cons of gas water heaters, as water heaters make up about a quarter of a home's total energy costs.
Gas water heaters tend to be more expensive than electric water heaters, although prices vary depending upon the styles, capacity, and brand of water heater. In addition, a gas water heater costs more to install, as a gas line and flue must also be installed.
There are some other problems associated with gas heaters. Some tend to backdraft, or vent exhaust into the house instead of up the flue. Other gas water heaters have trouble with the thermocouple malfunctioning, causing the pilot light to go out. In addition, approximately one quarter of the heat that a gas water heater produces is wasted by traveling up the flue.
Although gas water heaters are generally more expensive to buy and install than electric water heaters, they generally cost less to operate. A gas water heater also usually has a quicker recovery rate than an electric water heater, and can heat more water more quickly. A small water heater can usually heat as much water as a much larger electric water heater.
Gas water heaters are generally more durable and last longer than electric water heaters, although more expensive electric heaters are also able to last for many years. If a home has a gas stove or furnace, it is possible to extend the gas line to the water heater.
If you choose to buy a gas water heater, make sure it is raised at least 18 inches (46 cm), as the gas fumes will sink and can be explosive if exposed to flame. Gas burners should be vacuumed clean periodically, since the flame is at the bottom of the tank. Debris often falls onto the burner and makes it burn more unevenly than it should. Also, it is important to check the fittings on the gas lines. If fittings are loose or cracked, the water heater is at risk of exploding.
Before buying any water heater, remember to take the cost of operation and repair into account, and not just the price of purchase and installation.
Written by Bronwyn Harris