Hagerstown Water Heater Tip: How a Storage Water Heater Works

For decades, people in Hagerstown have used storage water heaters to heat and store hot water for future use. These tanks are very simple and in many cases have become much more energy efficient, but you probably are wondering how they actually work. Here is a quick overview of a storage water heater tank and how it works.

The Basics

A storage water heater is exactly as it sounds. A large volume of water is funneled into a storage tank of between 20 and 80 gallons and heated for future use. When you turn on a hot water tap, water from the top of the tank is removed through the hot water outlet and cold water enters the tank through the cold water inlet – replacing the displaced volume and heated by the gas burner beneath the tank.

Water heaters can be electric, gas, propane or oil depending on what is available in your area. When the water temperature falls (as hot water is pulled from the tank), the thermostat opens and the gas burner ignites, heating the water until it reaches the preset temperature of the thermostat and it closes.

The Tank

When a tank is turned on, it is constantly heating the water supply. As a result, standby heat loss occurs. However, modern tanks are being built with exceptionally high insulation ratings (up to R-25) to minimize the loss of such heat. Additional heat loss occurs in gas and oil water heaters that must vent fumes and gasses through an internal flue. Fan assisted gas tanks and sealed combustion tanks reduce this type of energy loss in gas water heaters.

 Determining the Best Water Heater for You

If you want a new water heater for your home, make sure you do your research and learn what types of water heaters will minimize heat and energy loss without reducing your comfort level. Modern tank water heaters are surprisingly efficient, but only certain ones. Larry & Sons Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning can help you determine which option is best for your Hagerstown home.

Myersville Plumber’s Tip: What You Need to Know About Point of Use Water Heaters

For years, most people in Myersville have used the same system to heat their water. A single tank that heats and stores water at a set temperature for whenever it is needed. That system, as well as it works, is not very efficient, and with costs for gas and oil rising so much in recent years, many people are looking for better ways to heat their water.

That’s where point of use water heating comes in. These tankless water heaters are designed to heat your water when you need it heated instead of filling a tank of 50 or 60 gallons and heating it continuously even when you don’t.

How Point of Use Water Heaters Work

A point of use water heater works by directly heating the water supply to a single fixture. So, you would install a point of use water heater on your kitchen sink and only one water supply pipe would go to that heater. When you turn on the hot water faucet, the point of use heater would turn on (using electricity) and heat your water to 170 degrees F.

These devices only work on a single fixture at a time but they are much less expensive to purchase than a whole house tankless hot water system. Additionally, you can control where hot water is available.

The Advantages of Point of Use Hot Water

A tank hot water system can cost hundreds of dollars of year extra to run, especially if your family doesn’t use much hot water. Imagine what happens if you have four children that go off to college. Your “just big enough” tank suddenly becomes way too big and your bill stays unnecessarily high.

Point of use heaters allow you to decide where hot water is available and have instantly available hot water as you need it. The cost of the units and installation is affordable for most Myersville homeowners and you don’t have to commit to a whole house system if you are not ready.

5 Reasons to Replace the Furnace in Your Smithsburg Home

Many Smithsburg homes are heated with furnaces, since they generally provide safe and efficient heat.  Furnaces have also improved dramatically over the years as manufacturers find ways to make them more efficient. Even if your furnace has been reliable for many years, it may be worth the money to replace your old furnace with a newer, more efficient model.

Here are five major benefits to upgrading your furnace.

1. Lowering Your Utility Bills

Whether you realize it or not, your current furnace could be costing you more than it should in heating bills. If your furnace is 15-20 years old, it’s probably not heating your home as efficiently as the newer models with higher AFUE ratings. Even if your heating system has been replaced within the last ten years, the technology has advanced enough to consider an upgrade.

2. Fewer Repairs

Repair costs can add up if you are constantly repairing your furnace. Routine maintenance for your furnace can help reduce the need for repairs, but as furnaces age, they tend to need more repairs and replacement parts. If you need frequent repairs for your furnace, it may be time to replace it with a newer one.

3. More Consistent Heat

While maintaining consistent temperatures throughout your home involves several factors, such as insulation and thermostat control, your furnace could also be the reason you aren’t getting enough heat to all parts of the house. If some rooms are colder than others, or if your heating bills have recently gone up, it may be time for a furnace replacement.

4. Reduce the Chances of a Breakdown

When a furnace breaks down, it not only leaves you without heat, but it is also a major expense. Budgeting for a new furnace before it breaks down will put less financial burden on you than needing an emergency furnace replacement. Newer model furnaces are also more reliable and less likely to give you problems if maintained properly.

5. Safety

There’s higher potential for safety concerns with older or poorly maintained furnaces. In addition to fire hazards, carbon monoxide poisoning is another serious threat. When the heat exchanger stops working because it’s corroded or faulty, carbon monoxide can leak into the home. If you’ve had your furnace for more than 20 years, it could create safety hazards that you may be unaware of.

No matter how long you’ve had the furnace in your Smithsburg home, it’s always wise to speak with a qualified HVAC technician about furnace upgrades, particularly if you have expensive heating costs. Call today to talk with one of our heating experts about furnace upgrades.

A Question from Hagerstown: Where Are My Shut Off Valves?

Whenever you want to do some repairs on your Hagerstown home’s plumbing, whether it is to change a leaky faucet or fix knocking pipes, you need to shut off the main water supply. But, most home owners do not know where their main shutoff valves are, especially if they have just moved in or are renting a home that is unfamiliar to them. To help, here are some common places you can look for shutoff valves in your home.

  • Water Meter – The Water Meter, which you can usually find in your basement or just outside your home, will have a shutoff valve attached directly to it. Usually there will be two shutoff valves – one on each side of the meter (supply and home). To effectively shut off your water supply, turn the valve located before the meter.
  • Toilet Supply – Sometimes you do not need to cut off the main water supply to your entire house. It can be disruptive and the people in your home may not appreciate not having drinking water or a shower while you are working on the plumbing. So, when working on the toilet, always look for the toilet water valve located behind the tank. Sometimes this valve will be on the floor – other times it will be located on the wall just behind the tank.
  • Finding Wily Supplies – Sometimes the water supply may not be located where you would expect. It might be behind appliances or access panels or above your head somewhere. Most of the time, the water supply will still be in the basement, so start there and look carefully for the root of the pipes. Since most of the pipes in your home will originate at the supply line, you can usually trace them back to a single source.

If you still cannot find your main water supply line and shutoff valve, that does not mean it is hidden in the floor somewhere or outside. Sometimes, the supply lines are just in odd places, either because of strange construction or poor renovations by a past owner. If this is the case, get a second pair of eyes to help you hunt or as a last ditch option, call a plumber who will be able to more easily follow the lines back to their source. Nine times out of ten, you should be able to find and handle a main water supply on your own. But never rule out calling for a professional’s help if things get more complicated than anticipated.

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