Unhappy with the amount of hot water in the shower?
Ever been the last person in the morning to take a shower, only to find out that the three people before and the washing machine used up all the hot water? Wonder why you've run out of water while you freeze during the shortest shower of your life? It could depend on the size, age, and type of water heater you have.
First we'll go over the types of water heaters; tankless, direct & indirect water heaters. Direct and indirect water heaters use a tank that stores and heats the water in the tank to be used later. This requires the water to heated and reheated as the water temperature can be maintained for awhile before it drops too low.
You might find a tank in your basement that is either near or possibly far from your boiler or furnace. A tank that is close and has piping that runs directly from the the heating system to the tank is a direct water heater. This directly uses the heat from the heating system to heat the water in the tank. An direct water heater has its own burner and independently heats the water in the tank.
Depending on the size of your tank you could easily run out of water if your size tank doesn't match the demand of your needs. When you are selecting a water heating tank make sure to discuss what and how many people will be using the tank to ensure that the last person will have hot water.
A tankless water heater, heats water without a storage tank, allowing for a constant supply of hot water. Using a gas fired burner or electric heater, cold water is heated through the system and to its destination as hot water. Tankless water heaters are a bit more energy efficient as they only need to heat the water when it is called instead of heating and reheating water.
Tankless water are only fueled by Gas (Propane or Natural Gas) or electricity, while tanked water heaters can be fueled by oil, propane, natural gas, electricity, or the heat from your existing heating system. This limits some homes when it comes to tankless water heaters if propane or natural gas isn't a feasible option and electric may be too expensive.
Your best option is to talk to a dealer about what will best fit your home's water heating needs. A rule of thumb though is to replace your water heater if it's over 12 years old.