The Cold Facts About Hot Water Tanks
Updated: Jul 9
There are two common types of hot water tanks for residential applications, gas and electric. While these tanks can be purchased in various sizes depending on the home owners needs the concept is the same, create hot water.
Gas hot water tanks heat the water inside of the tank by a flame or burner, similar to that on a gas stove, from the bottom of the water vessel. One benefit to a gas tank is they are generally cheaper to operate and don't leave you without cold water if there is a power outage.
Electric hot water tanks heat the water by the use of heating elements, generally two of them, one on the bottom of the tank and one at the top. These elements can be replaced if one or both of them fail and the replacement parts are fairly inexpensive.
The goal of both styles of tanks are to heat the water to the temperature set on the tanks thermostat and recover used hot water as fast as possible as to not run out.
So, how do you know when your hot water tank may fail? Unfortunately, there is no magic way to tell but when they do they can leave you with a lot of water to clean up. If you notice water on the floor around the base of your tank the best thing you can do to prevent even more water from leaking out is to shut off the water to the tank. This will stop the tank from replenishing the water that is leaking out. There should be a valve above the tank on the water line that feeds the tank, this is the first place you want to cut off the supply. If there is not a valve above the tank then find the where the water comes into your house from outside and shut it off there. This is your main water shutoff.
This will shut off water to your entire house but its your best bet until you can get the tank replaced. If you can find a plumber on call they will be able to swap out your tank is just a few short hours. Getting you back to the modern luxury of hot water!
What about a tankless option? We will cover tankless or on-demand hot water heaters in a future post. Stay tuned!