You might not give water heaters any thought when shopping for a new home. They don't carry the same appeal as a spa-inspired master bathroom or an outdoor kitchen that will be the envy of your friends at your next summer barbecue, but water heaters are crucial to your daily comforts. As you look through your next potential home, make sure the water heater is on your checklist. Here are some things to keep in mind to avoid expensive issues in the future.

Is it Rented or Owned?

Find out from the seller if the water heater is a rental or owned outright. If rented, ask for a copy of the contract and read it carefully. Renting a water heater is considerably more expensive than buying. For example, a $25-a-month rental for a ten-year contract would cost $3,000. Compare that to the usual price range of $800 to $1,000 to buy a tank heater.

Rent-to-own scenarios can include an expensive buy-out price that neither you nor the seller wants to take on. A contract buyout would be necessary if you plan for renovations that require replacement of the existing heater.

Is it the Right Size?

Have a licensed plumbing and heating professional inspect the heater as part of the home's inspection. This technician can determine if the tank size is adequate for the home, based on the number of hot water faucets, showers, appliances, and family members in your household. You might find that the heater is too small to support your family needs, which means running out of hot water during morning showers or while using the dishwasher or washing machine. On the other hand, you don't want a tank that is far too large because you will spend a lot on utilities to heat extra water.

How Old Is the Water Heater?

The typical lifespan of a tank water heater is ten years. Once a tank has reached this age, it can malfunction or begin leaking with no warning. A leaking tank is not repairable, and can cause significant damage to the home. Look out for signs of deterioration such as rust spots and water stains. If you're not sure of the age of your water heater, your plumber can look it up, based on the manufacturer's serial number. If the tank is near the end of its life, get ready to replace it.

Does it Pose a Risk?

Look at the area around the heater. It's common to place it in an inconspicuous area, like an adjoining garage or utility closet. But an out of sight and mind location can be a problem, because you won't know if it's leaking until it has already caused significant damage. Then you'll find the spike in your energy bill from heating all that water as it pours out of the tank. Exposed sub-flooring, wood framing, and sheet rock walls can all be at risk of permanent damage. If this is the case, discuss options with your plumber for relocating the water heater to a safer spot.

Including the water heater in home inspections will save you a lot of grief. Remember, this unassuming appliance is the reason you're not boiling water over a fire for your bath.

If you're in the market for a new water heater, make sure you understand all of your options. There are several types of water heaters out there, and making sure you get the right one for you and your family is important. When looking at the options, you'll come across oil fired water heaters. Find out if this is the right type of water heater for you.

What is an Oil Fired Water Heater?

Oil fired water heaters provide hot water for household water systems as well as for radiant heating. These are generally part of a central heating system in your home. There are three general styles of oil fired water heaters:

  • Direct fired—this system heats water using oil as the heat source. Direct fired systems are extremely efficient and are easy to use for large capacity systems. They have a low fuel and service cost compared to other system.
  • Indirect fired—using storage tanks, indirect fired water heaters use heating coils to heat the water. This type of system is usually used for central heating systems and hot water supply. This type of system isn't always the best option, because of its reliance on the central heating system, and can be cumbersome in the warmer months.
  • Tankless coil—if you have a boiler home heating system, you may want to consider a tankless coil system. This uses a coiled water pipe inside the boiler and heats the water for the home on an as-needed basis. A tankless coil system doesn't constantly warm the home, so is more beneficial in the warm months.

What are the Benefits of an Oil Fired Water Heater?

When you use an oil fired water heater, all the water in your home is heated with oil. The heater has an oil burner attached to it, but otherwise looks very similar to other water heater styles. Because of this, it's not going to take up much, if any, more room in your home than any other type of water heater.

One of the biggest benefits of using an oil fired water heater is that you're able to save a lot of money over the life of the water heater. While an oil fired water heater system may cost more for the initial installation, it's going to save you money on your utility bills in the long run. Depending on the type of water heater you choose, you may be able to heat your home and your water at the same time.

You don't have to worry nearly as much about how much water you use, since the water is heated as you use it. Because of this, you have nearly unlimited hot water, unlike many other types of systems.

Understanding the water heater system in your home allows you to make the right choices for upgrades, as well as maintenance and repairs. When you're considering a new water heater, check out the benefits of an oil fired water heater, to help you save money, increase your home's efficiency, and increase your hot water supply.

As a homeowner, you know that different systems within your home need to be replaced at intervals. One of the biggest systems you need to keep an eye on is your water heater. While water heaters are generally expected to last approximately ten years, this isn't always the case. Depending on a number of factors, your water heater may last 20 years or more, or you may find that it gives out after only a few years. It's good to have an approximate idea of how long your particular water heater will last.

Installation

One of the biggest factors that helps determine how long your water heater will last is how it was installed. Improper installation affects the lifespan significantly. It's crucial that your water heater is installed upright—if it is on its side, there is inadequate support. This leads to structural stress and will cause premature failure of the water heater system. Well-ventilated areas are the best for water heaters. While this helps with nitrous-oxide buildup and fire safety, it also extends the life of the water heater.

Usage

As you're considering how long your water heater will last, make sure you keep in mind how much you use it. The more hot water used throughout the home, the more the system has to work. Water heaters with less usage generally last longer than those with a huge output. Make sure you get a water heater that can stand up to the volume you plan to use.

Water Type

The type of water in your area affects your water heater. If the water is corrosive, it's going to significantly shorten the lifespan of your water heater system. One way to help determine the life of your water heater is to get your water tested for corrosive chemicals. Along with this, hard water is more damaging to water heaters. If you have hard water, you can help extend the life of your water heater by getting a water softener.

Proper Maintenance

Keeping your water heater maintained extends how long the system lasts. If you are purchasing a home with an older water heater, or if it's been a while since you last got maintenance, make sure to get someone over to service the system. A good flush and maintenance helps get rid of dirt, debris, and minerals from the system

System Type

There are many different types of water heaters, and the style of your water heater affects how long it lasts. For example, a glass lined water tank is coated to help resist corrosion. Since there is less corrosion in the system, it is likely to last longer than older systems without this protection. A tankless system tends to last longer than a traditional tank water heater, with life spans of up to 20 years or more.

When you're estimating the life expectancy of your water heater, consider consulting with a professional. They can help you understand how your system works, explain the general span of your system, and offer suggestions to keep it running as long as possible.