Water Heaters Category

How to Prepare a Water Heater for Winter

water heater seasonal maintenanceBecause this is not the season to be stuck without hot water, take time to properly prepare your water heater for winter. The water heater’s typically the most frequently replaced major appliance in the house. Many last less than 10 years. One of the things that can help extend water heater service life is seasonal maintenance. Here are some suggestions to prepare a water heater for winter and ensure you have plenty of hot water for the cold weather to come.

  • Set the water heater thermostat to 120 degrees. Temperatures higher than that pose a danger of scalding and don’t get hot water to you any faster when the pipes in the house are cold, anyhow. Also, the higher the temperature of water inside the water heater tank, the quicker it loses heat while on stand-by—particularly during winter if the water heater is located in a cooler location like a garage or utility area. Rapid tank heat loss means the water heater cycles on and off more frequently to compensate, consuming more gas and increasing operating costs.
  • Insulate exposed sections of cold and hot water pipes. Buy slip-on foam pipe insulation at a home center and place it anywhere you can reach the cold water supply line leading to the water heater and the hot water line leading away from the heater. Also, any other accessible segments of hot water pipe elsewhere in the house should be insulated, as well. This prevents freezing in winter and aids water heater performance by reducing heat loss.
  • Drain and flush. Mineral sediment present in the water supply accumulates inside water heaters. It’s a major cause of higher water heating costs and shorter water heater life expectancy. A qualified professional plumber can drain the heater tank, flush out sediment accumulation, as well as verify proper function of the temperature and pressure relief (TPR) valve, an important water heater safety check.

For qualified service to prepare a water heater for winter, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Plumbing.

The Latest in Tankless Water Heating Technology

Tankless water heating technology outperforms the conventional water heater in many ways. First and foremost: no tank! The familiar storage tank has always been a weak link in water heating performance and efficiency. Water stored on “standby” cools and requires re-heating—a substantial energy drain. Also, because tank capacity is necessarily limited, so is the amount of hot water available at any given time. A tankless system heats water on-demand only, utilizing no storage tank. In addition, the unit delivers hot water continuously as long as demand continues, so there’s no interruption while you wait for another tank to heat.

New tankless water heating systems are more adaptable and efficient than ever. Here are some improvements incorporated in the latest units:

tankless water heating technologySimpler Installation

Because cold and hot water piping in most existing homes was typically configured for a storage tank heater, installation of a tankless heater was sometimes complicated. New tankless models now feature water input and output connections on the top of the unit, exactly duplicating the position and spacing of fittings on a storage tank heater. This makes direct replacement faster and straightforward. In addition, more new tankless units are engineered for use with 1/2-inch gas lines, typically standard in residential construction.

Instant Hot Water

Running cold water while waiting for it to get hot wastes both water and time. At least one major manufacturer of new tankless systems now incorporates a recirculating pump that continuously circulates freshly heated water into the supply line to the fixture while diverting cooled water back to the main water pipe. The result: instant hot water with no lag time every time you open a faucet.

Lower Maintenance

For optimum performance and efficiency, tankless heaters require annual maintenance to remove mineral deposits, known as “scale,” that accumulate in the heat exchanger. Isolation valves incorporated in new units now expedite the maintenance process and make descaling more effective.

Thinking about upgrading to the benefits of tankless water heating? Contact the professionals at Apollo Home for more information about the latest technology now available.

5 Ways to Extend the Life of Your Water Heater

Keeping up with water heater maintenance is a good way to decrease the odds of early replacement. Statistics say that the water heater is the most frequently replaced major appliance in a typical residence. While it was once common to get 20 years of service from a standard water heater, today the average is about half that. If proper water heater maintenance by a qualified professional plumber is ignored, a unit may fail in only five to six years.

water heater maintenanceExtend the life of your heater and cut operating costs by following these five water heater maintenance tips:

Flush The Tank

Minerals in hard water solidify when heated and form a layer of sediment in the bottom of the tank. This promotes tank corrosion and also causes the burner to run longer cycles, raising operating costs. Draining the tank regularly removes mineral sediment before it solidifies and can’t be removed.

Replace The Anode

The sacrificial anode inside the tank attracts corrosives in the water that would otherwise deteriorate the tank and cause early failure. Anodes eventually dissolve and need replacement. A qualified plumber can check the status of the anode and install a new one if necessary.

Test The Pressure Relief Valve

The spring-loaded pressure relief valve on the top or side of the heater opens automatically to protect the unit from dangerously high internal pressure or temperature. Once a year, open the valve, verify that water spurts out into the discharge tube, then allow the valve to snap shut. If water isn’t released or if the valve continues to dribble after it’s been released, have the valve replaced immediately.

Check The Temperature

Unnecessarily high water temperatures may accelerate tank failure and also present a scald hazard to occupants. Make sure the water heater thermostat is set to 120 degrees or less.

Soften The Water

If you live in an area with very high mineral content, a water softener that removes minerals like calcium from the incoming water supply can add years to the water heater’s expected service life.

For professional water heater maintenance, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing today.

3 Reasons to Lower Your Water Heater’s Temperature

Like many people, you may not even be aware of the fact that you can lower your water heater’s temperature—much less, the fact that there are benefits from doing so. As long as water hot enough for daily use comes out when they open the tap, most homeowners never give it a second thought. Proper water temperature shouldn’t be taken for granted.

lower your water heater's temperatureWater heaters come from the factory with the thermostat pre-set. However, the installer of the unit may alter that temperature, or fail to verify that it is still at its original factory setting at the time of installation. Here are three good reasons to check your thermostat setting yourself and perhaps lower your water heater’s temperature:

  • Water above 120 degrees accelerates the accumulation of hard water mineral sediment, especially common calcium carbonate, inside the tank. Sediment accumulation is a trigger for water heater tank corrosion and shortens the expected service life of the entire unit. A layer of sediment in the tank also causes the burner to run longer to heat water, increasing fuel consumption operating costs.
  • Water above 120 degrees increases the risk of scalding. Exposure to water at a temperature of 140 degrees can cause severe scalding in as little as 5 seconds of exposure. This is especially dangerous in homes with small children, the elderly, or others who may not be agile enough to quickly react to scalding water.
  • Water above 120 degrees causes excessive stand-by heat loss. Hotter water stored in the tank cools faster. This means that a unit on stand-by re-lights the burner more frequently to compensate for heat loss and to bring the water temperature back up to thermostat settings. Frequent burner cycles waste energy and increase operating costs. The average home in the U.S. spends about $300 per year for hot water from a gas-fired water heater. Lowering the temperature from 140 degrees to 120 degrees can reduce standby heat loss and save up to 15 percent in annual water heating expense.

For more on why and how to lower your water heater’s temperature, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

Just How Much is Your Old Water Heater Costing You?

With the new standards of energy efficiency in water heaters these days, you may actually not be saving money by waiting to replace your old water heater. Old water heaters are much less energy efficient, both because they are aging and because standards were lower back then, which could mean more money you’re paying each month in energy costs compared to a newer heater.

old water heaterIt’s generally accepted that most water heaters last an average of about 13 years. If yours is anywhere close to that, it probably uses a lot more energy than modern water heaters. Ten years ago, hot water accounted for about a quarter of the typical home’s energy use; today, with more efficient heaters, it’s only about 18 percent. Therefore, anyone with a water heater that is seven or more years old will probably save money in the long run by replacing the water heater with a newer, more efficient model.

If getting a new water heater isn’t an option for you, there are other ways to make your old one more efficient and save you a little money on heating costs. Here are a few more ways you can enjoy water heating savings.

  • Have heat traps installed. If it doesn’t already have them, heat traps on your tank could reduce your bill by as much as $15 to $30.
  • Invest in low-flow faucets and shower heads. Anything pre-1992 lets too much water through. By having new low-flow faucets installed, you could actually save up to 60% on your water bill, in addition to the energy savings associated with using less hot water.
  • Insulate, insulate, insulate. Having everything insulated, from the hot water tank itself to the pipes that carry the hot water out of the heater, can help cut costs by preserving the heat in both the tank and the pipes.

Do you want to save money and feel good about helping the environment at the same time? Contact Cincinnati-based Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing for more information about how replacing your water heater can help you cut energy costs.

3 Benefits of Installing a Tankless Water Heater

Very few things feel as wonderful as a hot shower – at least until that nagging voice in the back of your mind tells you to quit wasting all the hot water. What if someone else wants to take a shower or you need to do a load of laundry? With a tankless water heater you can get hot water on demand, allowing you to enjoy your shower and drown out the nagging voice.  Tankless water heaters have several other advantages, as well.

Energy Savings

tankless water heater, Cincinnati, Ohio

Tankless water heater
Source: Shutterstock

Tankless, or on-demand, water heaters provide you with hot water when you need it. Traditional water heaters hold water in large, vat-like tanks, keeping it hot until you’re ready to use it. In order to keep that water hot, those water heaters expend a large amount of energy. The main benefit of tankless heaters is that they don’t need to expend energy to keep water hot when you’re not using it. This can lead to a significant energy savings when used correctly.

Long Life

Another benefit of installing a tankless water heater is its durability. If you’ve ever cleaned out a traditional water heater or replaced it because the tank rusted out, you’ll recognize the beauty of a tankless system. No tank means you won’t have to deal with sediment build-up or clean up the flood that comes when a tank springs a leak. Because of its design and easily replaceable parts, a tankless water heater can last five to ten years longer than a traditional water heater.

Small Footprint

The final benefit to tankless water heaters is often forgotten: the extra space provided by a smaller unit. Tankless systems are typically mounted on a wall or even outside, freeing up that valuable closet space that most homeowners treasure.

With energy savings, fewer repairs and replacements, and extra space to stash your stuff, a tankless water heater can provide homeowners with value – and wonderfully hot showers – for years to come.

For more information about tankless water heaters, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing. We’ve proudly served the Greater Cincinnati area since 1910!

The Difference Between Traditional and Tankless Water Heaters

Many water heater services in Cincinnati offer installation and maintenance of both tankless water heaters and conventional tank-based models. Both types have advantages and disadvantages, depending on your hot water requirements and your budget.

water heater

white boiler in the basement of a house
Source: istockphoto

Storage Tank Water Heaters

Conventional water heaters use a large tank, ranging from 20 to 120 gallons, in which water is constantly heated and stored until it is used. Having a ready supply of hot water has several advantages, but tank-based heaters also have serious disadvantages, including higher energy usage.


  • Lower Initial cost – Tank-based water heaters are relatively inexpensive.
  • Easy installation – Most homes are already designed for tank-based models, making installing a new storage tank heater easier than retrofitting for a tankless model.
  • Quick Delivery – Large tank ensures a good supply of hot water, delivered quickly.
  • Efficiency – New models are up to 96% efficient.


  • Shorter lifespan – They last about half as long as tankless models.
  • Higher energy usage – Constantly heating water increases your energy costs.
  • Finite supply – After the hot water runs out, it may take a while to replenish.
  • Bulky – Storage tank heaters require plenty of space to install.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters tend to be more efficient than tank-based models, but they also have significant drawbacks.


  • Energy efficient – Tankless heaters use up to 22% less energy than tank-based models.
  • Small size – Allows for flexible installations, such as mounting the heater closer to fixtures for better hot water delivery.
  • Extended lifespan – With minimal maintenance, tankless models can last over 20 years.
  • Consistent Heated Water – Unlimited hot water if installed and sized correctly.
  • Dual power sources – Available in both gas and electric versions.


  • Higher upfront costs – The purchase price of tankless models is often at least double that of conventional models, and installation costs are often higher.
  • Required Upgrades – Installation may require upgrades to your gas lines or electric service, and possibly a new vent system for gas models.

For more information about choosing a new water heater, or to schedule water heater services in Cincinnati or the surrounding areas, talk to our team at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing. We have been serving the Cincinnati area since 1910.

Common Water Heater Problems May Have an Easy Fix

Water heating is a basic necessity used practically every day in homes for showering, cleaning and cooking. When there’s a problem with the water heater, finding a solution surely moves to the top of your to-do list. Read on to learn how to troubleshoot water heater problems or to know when contacting Cincinnati plumbing services for water heaters is the best solution.

water heater

Technician servicing the gas boiler for hot water and heating
Source: istockphoto

Temperature Fluctuations

Hot water temperature fluctuations are common in aging water heaters. If temperature fluctuations coincide with unusual popping noises, there’s probably too much sediment and scale buildup in the tank. Draining and cleaning the water heater is required. Once the water heater is emptied and the drain valve removed, the bottom of the water heater can be scrubbed with a long thin brush.

A dirty or failing heating component, such as a dirty heat exchanger or faulty electric element, heats cold intake water intermittently at best. Inspecting, repairing or replacing these parts is generally best left to your Cincinnati plumbing professional.

The dip tube directs cold intake water to the bottom of the water heater. A cracked or broken dip tube causes intake water to mix with stored hot water, which causes temperature fluctuations. When replacing the dip tube, your plumbing pro should also replace the anode rod. The anode rod helps prevent tank corrosion that can cause water discoloration, odors and rupture.

Water Leaks

Water leaks should be taken very seriously. Water leaks either occur at the temperature and pressure (T&P) valve, parts with worn seals or the water heater itself is leaking. If the T&P valve is leaking or dripping, contact your plumber right away to prevent possible catastrophe. Water pooling beneath the water heater signals an imminent rupture of a corroded tank and also necessitates a call to your plumber.

Lastly, leaky seals may leak so little water that they’re difficult to locate. Look for rust and corrosion on the outside of the water heater to identify the leaky part.

If your hot water isn’t so hot these days, please contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing for top-quality Cincinnati plumbing services for water heaters.

Tankless Water Heating: What Are the Pros and Cons of This On-Demand Option?

Storage tank water heating is still the most common form of water heating for homes in the U.S., but it’s not always the most efficient option. With a single tank water heater, a great deal of water has to be kept at a high temperature at all times, and when a faucet or appliance calls for hot water, it first has to exhaust all the cool water already in the pipes between the tank and that faucet. Fortunately, tank water heating isn’t the only water heating option. In many situations, tankless water heating can be more efficient.

How Cincinnati Homeowners Can Prepare Their Home Water Heater for Winter

prepare your water heater Taking the time to prepare a water heater for winter can save you money and prevent daily hassles with your hot water tap. The cold Cincinnati winters make it harder for your water heater to do its job. If you don’t help it out a little, it will use more energy than necessary trying to keep your water hot and it may not provide enough hot water at all. (more…)