Choosing what type of water heater

When you are looking to purchase an energy-efficient hot water heater for your home, then tankless hot water heaters are definitely the way to go if you don't actually use them. There are many benefits to these types of water heaters. But as far as normal everyday use, they are probably not as efficient as a standard type B vent-natural gas. As you probably guessed, these types of water heaters do not store water. They don't continue to heat water. Conventional water heaters on the other hand that use tanks to store and heat water. Regardless of whether or not it is needed. Tankless systems heat the water when you open a faucet in your home. This is not very energy efficient if you are constantly using them because you heat the water at an alarming rate regardless if it is 1.5 fixture units or 5 fixture units. Consider this, a 40 gallon natural gas water heater is one of the most common water heaters built today. If you are not home the unit may kick on once or twice per day to keep the water hot. That's 38,000 BTU that it uses to raise the already hot temperature. Once there, the insulated lining of the water heater keeps it warm.

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Tankless Water Heaters

While the wording "On Demand" sounds real efficient, in our opinion - it isn't. Take for instance a lavatory. It uses 1 fixture unit. The tankless water heater might not even kick on to heat the water. Most tankless unit are set to turn on at 1.5 to 2 fixture units. A lot of times you need to install a small electric water heater right there at the tap to get warm water on your tooth brush or to wash your hands. But for Kitchen sinks running at 2 fixture units the On Demand water heater will kick on. That's where it is different. It doesn't slightly kick on, it turns on a full 199-399,000 BTU (depending on the unit) every single time you pull the handle to a sink, bathtub, laundry. It's on FULL BLAST. Where as using a sink to wash your hands, a normal natural gas water heater with the tank might not even turn on. When it does turn on it is at about 1/10 the BTU (British Thermal Units - measurement of heat). So really the efficiency is already questionable. Because of the higher fixture rating required to engage the tankless heater some lavatories may require a "pou" or point of use 1-5 gallon heater wired in under the sink top.

What fuel source runs your water heater?

There are many benefits to consider when choosing to purchase tank type hot water heaters. First, you need to choose how you would like your hot water heater to be fueled. It can be ran by either electricity, natural or propane gas. If energy efficiency is important to you, another good way to go is electric hot water heaters. They can be placed just about anywhere you can get supply piping and a 240 wire to. You don't need a vent stack for carbon monoxide. Electric hot water heaters are a great choice when needing hot water in areas that it is difficult to get a natural gas type B vent to.

Natural gas water heaters are still much more efficient than tankless heaters. Weather you choose electric or natural gas is going to depend on your application. If you think the electricity will cost too much for you, you can choose natural gas fueled hot water heaters and still know that you are doing your part to protect the environment by conserving energy. Gas systems are also the best for heating large homes. When choosing which fuel source you prefer, it is important to examine utility prices in your area. The average install price for a 40 gallon natural gas natural draft is about $300 plus parts through Madison's Plumbing Heating and Cooling out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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Tankless water heater installation

Tankless water heaters make the installation of these types of heaters a bit more difficult than the installation of hot water heaters that store water in tanks. Look for experienced experts like Madison's who can not only help you pick a brand and a system that fits your needs and budget, but who will also correctly install your new system. Not every specialist knows how to install tankless hot water heaters properly, so make sure to find somebody who can do the job right. We still recommend the standard Natural Gas unit at Madison's.

What brand should you buy?

Choosing a brand of water heater? Lets clarify something for you. While there are lots of different names on water heaters there are still only a few water heater manufacturers. A.O. Smith, Rheem, RUUD are a few main companies. These companies make most of the water heaters sold in the United States, so when considering a water heater, remember that you could possible be getting the "sales pitch" on a particular unit. When in reality it's just made by one of the three companies. Here at Madison's we will install any unit that you would like to have installed. Give us a call today and set up an appointment for an install today

Remember to always ground your CSST gas lines before the connection. This has been associated with lightning strikes and pin holes in the lines.

Madison's (319) 936-6100

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Let's talk water heaters...Leaking at the base of your water heater?

Lets talk about water heaters


Now if you call Madison's the plumbing company to install a new water heater, we are going to ask you some basic questions about your current water heater.

  1. Is the water heater gas or electric?
  2. Does the water heater have a power vent system or traditional galvanized stack?
  3. What type of water lines are running to the water heater? Galvanized, PEX or copper.
  4. What type of gas line is currently on the water heater?
  5. Is the water heater going in the same spot?

If you have a few of these answers about your current water heater we'll most likely be able to give you a free quote over the phone.

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Lets talk about water heaters

Gas or electric water heater?

A Gas water heater:

Check for the "hat". It is sitting right in the center and on top of the water heater. The "grey" gas vent (grey pipe) is coming down sitting on the top of it. This means type B gas vent. Could be propane or natural gas. There are two copper lines on each side of it. This shows that this type of water heater is a gas, type B gas.

Electric water heater

  • An electric water heater:

    Electric shown to the left. Usually has an "armored" cable that comes out of the top. It is spiraled and conceals the wire. The "hat" is missing, as well as the grey vent pipe. It still has the cold and hot water supply piping and in the center of this unit is the T/P valve. The T/P temperature pressure valve will "POP" and allow the water heater to expel a high pressure or high heat to keep you safe. It is a safety device built into each unit.

    electric water heater

  • A Power Vent Water Heater:

    Power vents shown to the right will usually still have the inlet pipes coming in from the top. The T/P valve on the side and a black box of some sort sitting on top of the water heater. There will be usually (white) PVC piping coming off of the top. This is how the water heater will exhaust the carbon monoxide. It goes straight out the side of the house and gets rid of the "through the roof" installation. Most high efficiency furnaces are being installed the same way.

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Warranty time frame

The water heater will usually have a warranty time line. Either 6 year or 12 year is average. Standard install is a 6 year model. A water heater is something you change out quite often. To lengthen the time frame you keep one will be dependent on what type of water filtration system you have Madison's install for you. A basic water filtration install with house filter is usually under $1500 with the water softener.

The time frame of the warranty is almost right on when the anode rod is pretty much deteriorated. It is a sacrificial rod sized to corrode away in the 6 or 12 year time frame. When the 6 years hits that rod is usually pretty much gone unless you have a filtration system set up. When the rod is gone on your water heater, the tank liner and casing are next.

Let Madison's install your next water heater:

Plumber in Cedar Rapids/Marion 319-936-6100

Water heaters are generally very reliable but occasionally they do have problems. These problems can include:

  • No hot water
  • Inadequate hot water
  • Rust colored water
  • Rotten egg odor
  • Low rumbling or popping noise
  • Higher pitched whining
  • Water leaking around base of heater

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Don't let it get this bad

Corroded Water Heater

Before any troubleshooting is done on the water heater, make sure to prepare safely for the job by doing the following:

  • Turn off power to an electric water heater. Do this by turning off the circuit breaker or fuse powering the heater.
  • Turn gas pilot control valve to "pilot" setting.
  • Shut off gas valve.
  • Shut off water supply to water heater.

One night, it will happen. Your water heater will fail to produce hot water or you’ll hear a low rumbling noise coming from your basement. As luck goes, it will often happen late in the evening, on a holiday, or any other time when it is the most inconvenient for your water heater to go out. This results in a panic about how to repair or install a water heater…and fast.

Installation of a new water heater can be impossible without the right tools and equipment. You can simply call Patrick @ 319-241-7592

Most hot water heater problems revolve around the following symptoms:

  • a lack of or inadequate hot water
  • rust-colored water
  • a rotten egg-smelling odor
  • high pitched or low rumbling noises
  • Leaks puddling on the base of the water heater

Most of these require low-maintenance fixes, such as replacing a part. Other water heaters unfortunately require more high-maintenance repairs, such as flushing out your water heater or replacing it altogether. Just a little tip to get the most out of your water heater.

  • Connect a hose once a year to the water heater and drain it.

On the front of the water heater there is a hose bib that will take a garden hose.

  • Shut off the power or gas before you do this.
  • Shut the valve off above the tank on the line.
  • Connect the hose to the hose bib on the water heater.
  • Open the bib and open the relief valve.

It should flush the tank out.

  • Close the bib up when drained.
  • Open the valve on the line above the tank.
  • When water comes out of the relief valve shut it down.
  • Open the lowest lines to the highest lines in the house trying to expel all excess air.

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Re-light the burner or turn back on the electric to the water heater. That's how you flush a tank. Never have the power or gas on when the tank isn't completely full of water. Or simply call Patrick at Madison's Plumbing 319-936-6100

One culprit of many hot water heater problems is an eroding sacrificial anode rod. This device protects a water heater’s interior lining by slowly dissolving and eliminating erosion by “sacrificing” itself in the place of the tank walls. When the corrosion of the rod is too great the tank lining starts to decay. This can result in either rust-colored water or an odor similar to rotten eggs. That's when it's time to call Madison's to have a new one installed.

Water Heater making noises?

Sometimes replacing a part is an easy fix. Sometimes, however, the repair can be more labor intensive. An example is when your water heater needs flushing. This task can prove messy and time consuming if the buildup is extensive. In this case, a professional plumber might be your best bet. Flushing a water heater is required when sediment buildup causes symptoms such as noises, leaks, and odors. For example, if your water heater is making a loud-pitched whine, it is often a consequence of sediment buildup on the electric heating elements. If the unit is making more of a low rumbling or popping noise, it means water is boiling because sediment is accumulating at the bottom of the tank, causing it to get very hot. In both cases, the tank on the water heater needs to be flushed with an outside water source, such as a hose.

If problems persist, contact us, a licensed plumbing company. . This could mean the problem is a result of multiple factors or your hot water heater needs replacing. Which we do at a fraction of the cost of most companies. If you think you are dealing with a gas leak, a professional is of vital importance. Natural gas leaks often smell faintly of garlic. If this occurs, shut off your pilot light, close the gas shutoff valve, and wait for further directions from Madison's your local plumber. Call us immediately: 319-936-6100.


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About Madison's

Madison's performs complete plumbing and furnace services to Eastern Iowa. We serve Robins, Cedar Rapids, Marion, Iowa City and surrounding Iowa communities.

Our 30+ years of experience has garnered us dozens of references and testimonials.

We are licensed, bonded and insured for all kinds of work - we are One-Stop.

Madison's Plumbing Heating & Cooling of Cedar Rapids has the most satisfied customers in the Eastern Iowa area.

We perform extensive heating, ventilation, cooling, carpentry and maintenance work.

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