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Home > Ideas & Tips > Water Heater Buying Guide

Water Heater Buying Guide

All About
Water Heaters

Everything you need to know to purchase, maintain, and get the
most out of your water heater is right here in our
Water Heater Buying Guide.

We all need it: hot water. Whether it's for dishes, showering, or laundry, the availability and reliability
of your hot water supply are extremely important to a functioning household. No one wants to take a
cold shower or pay high energy bills! Get all the info you need about water heaters
in our step-by-step guide now.

Why Buy a Water Heater?

Still Renting? Consider the $avings of Owning Your Water Heater Save over $1500 Over the life span of the water heater Still Renting? Consider the $avings of Owning Your Water Heater Save over $1500 Over the life span of the water heater

Typical rental costs

$20/Month X 144 Months
(12 years) = $2880

$22/Month X 144 Months
(12 years) = $3168

$24/Month X 144 Months
(12 years) = $3456

Water Heater
Save at least 20%** If your water heater is more than 10 years old in operating costs** Ask a Lowe's associate about our 6 month no payment plan Save at least 20%** If your water heater is more than 10 years old in operating costs** Ask a Lowe's associate about our 6 month no payment plan

*Based on a monthly rental rate of $22 for a 50 gallon PV water heater over a 12 year period.
**10 year old water heater meeting minimum water heater efficiencies of 0.58 EF replaced with an ENERGY STAR®
Qualified model with a 0.70 EF.

Shop All Water Heaters

Consider the type of heater that fits

your needs and your budget:

Storage Tank

Storage tank water heaters are the most common type. These units have an insulated tank where water is heated and stored until it's needed.

  • Economical
  • Storage options include
    closet, basement or garage
  • 2.5-80 gallon capacity range
  • Efficiency variation
    between models, brands
    and fuel sources

Shop All Water Heaters ‣

Tankless

Tankless water heaters don't store hot water; they heat water as it passes through a series of coils in the unit. Since the unit only heats water as you use it, a tankless heater is usually more energy-efficient than a traditional storage tank water heater.

  • Larger up-front investment
  • Hangs on wall to free up
    floor space
  • Reduces energy consumption
    by as much as 30%

Learn More About Tankless Water Heaters ‣

Look at Your Capacity And Space:

Residential Water Heater Sizing Chart

Consider the size of your family and the utilities in your
area to choose the best water heater.

Determine the height and width to ensure adequate space
is available for installation.

Know the dimensions of the space where your water
heater resides. Considerations:

  • The unit will need 1/2" clearance on both sides, as well as
    12" on the front and 18" off the floor
  • If your hot water use increases and you need to upgrade to
    a larger tank size, it may be necessary to run plumbing to a
    different area so the new, larger unit will fit. One alternative
    to running new plumbing is to purchase a lowboy water
    heater
    . These units are shorter and bigger around than a
    normal water heater, allowing them to hold the same amount
    of water as their larger counterparts while still fitting in areas
    with limited headroom.

You'll need to consider the fuel source that's best for you:

Electric

  • Uses one or two heating elements to heat water.
  • Less expensive than other types.
  • Variety of high efficiency options available.
  • Size range: 2.5 gal. to 70+ gal.
Shop All Electric Water Heaters

Gas

  • Uses a burner to heat water.
  • Needs circulating air around it.
  • Do not store combustible materials close by.
  • More expensive than electric water heaters.
  • More energy efficient than electric water heaters.
  • Size range: 30 gal. to 70+ gal.
Shop All Gas Water Heaters

Water Heater Comparison Chart

Electric Water Heater Chart Gas Water heater Chart
Whirlpool 12-year Warrenty
Whirlpool 9-year Warrenty
Whirlpool 6-year Warrenty
For more information on manufacturers' warranties, visit a Lowe's store near you and speak to a Specialist.

ELECTRIC WATER HEATER QUICK REFERENCE

Warrenty Chart Warrenty Chart

Make it last! Follow these maintenance tips to keep your water

heater in good working order:

Maintain Your Water Heater (Tank)

Follow these simple maintenance procedures every six months to keep your
water heater operating safely and efficiently for years.
Water Heater (With Tank)

Check the Pressure Valve

Both gas and electric water heaters have a safety device called a pressure relief valve. In the event the tank overpressurizes, the relief valve opens and releases the pressure. If the valve doesn't operate correctly, the tank can over pressurize and explode.

  • Always wear gloves, goggles and other protective clothing while performing maintenance on your water heater.

Step 1: Turn off the electricity to the water heater or turn the off gas switch to pilot.

Step 2: Shut off the cold-water inlet to the water heater.

Step 3: Position the bucket to catch water from the pressure relief valve.

Step 4: Pull the trip lever on the valve. You should hear a slight rush of air or see some water and vapour exit through the pressure relief valve. If you don't, drain the tank and replace the valve.

Flush the Tank

Sediment buildup in the tank can reduce your water heater's energy efficiency and also clog your water lines. Avoid these problems, and increase the life of your unit by flushing the tank each time you check the pressure relief valve.

Step 1: Turn off the electricity to the water heater or turn off the gas switch to pilot.

Step 2: Shut off the cold-water inlet to the water heater.

Step 3: Connect a garden hose to the tank's drain valve.

Step 4: Locate the draining end of the hose in an area that won't be adversely affected by the scalding hot water.

Step 5: Turn on a hot water faucet, open the drain valve and allow the tank to drain completely. Completely draining the tank ensures that you’ve removed all of the sediment possible.

Step 6: Close the tank drain valve, disconnect the valve and turn off the hot water faucet.

Step 7: Open all the hot-water spigots in the house, and turn on the cold-water inlet to the tank.

Step 8: Close each hot-water spigot when a continuous stream of water begins to flow from it. After all the spigots are closed, turn on the electricity to the water heater, or turn the gas switch to run.

Gas Water Heaters: Lighting the Pilot

Step 1: Refer to re-lighting procedure located on the heater or refer to the manual included with the heater.

Step 2: Once the re-lit gas water heater has started up, it will produce condensation. You may hear dripping sounds or see a small puddle of water in the drain pan. Condensation is normal and will go away once the water heater has reached its normal operating temperature

Electric Water Heaters: Reconnecting Electric Power

Step 1: The most common problem with electric water heaters is turning the power on before the tank is completely full of water. If this happens, the upper heating element will burn out, and you’ll have no hot water (until the upper element is replaced). Once you've installed the water heater, open a hot-water faucet all the way and let the hot water run for three minutes. This will ensure all of the air has been removed and the tank is completely full of water.

Step 2: If you don't have hot water after two hours, check to make sure the unit is getting the correct voltage. See the unit’s label for power requirements. No electric power or the wrong voltage causes many electric water heater problems. An electrician may be needed to solve wiring / power problems.

Leaks and Drips

Step 1: Most leaks are caused by faulty water supply connections. Use good materials and proper techniques and check your work carefully. Compression fittings are easier to use for DIYers than soldering copper pipes.

Step 2: Drips from the temperature and pressure (T&P) relief valve discharge pipe usually mean a thermal expansion tank is needed.

Maintain Your Water Heater (Tankless)

Follow these simple maintenance procedures every six months to keep your
water heater operating safely and efficiently for years.
Tankless Water Heater Diagram

Hard water is a severe problem for the copper coils inside heat exchangers. Heat exchanger failure due to scale buildup from hard water conditions is NOT covered by warranty. It is suggested that a scale inhibitor be installed before the cold water inlet.

Step 1: TOOLS
Pump (minimum 1GPM), descaling solution, hoses and a bucket

Step 2: WATER CONTROL VALVE POSITIONING
Units with a cold water bypass (JWT-540H) need to position the internal water valves to allow water to circulate through the heat exchanger. This is done by setting
the unit on a high temperature (158°F or above), followed by running a large volume of water through it. If your unit does not have a bypass, turn off the power to the unit and skip to step 3.
a. Turn power off to the unit, and then adjust the dipswitches for a high temperature setting (158°F or above). Power unit back on.
b. Open many hot water taps, placing the unit into maximum burn, for two minutes.
c. While the unit is firing and water still running, disconnect the power to the unit.
d. After power has been disconnected, shut off the hot water taps.

Step 3: WATERLINES
a. Isolate the unit by closing the incoming/outgoing water isolation valves C and D.
b. Relieve pressure in the unit using the PRV.
c. Drain the unit and connect hoses to the drain ports of the isolation valves: Outlet of the pump to cold inlet drain valve B, and from hot outlet drain valve A to the bucket.

Step 4: Pump
a. Fill the bucket with 5 gallons of diluted solution.
b. Place both the pump, with the inlet hose and the drain outlet hose into the bucket.
c. Open valves A and B.
d. Turn on the pump and circulate descaling solution through the unit for 45 minutes.

Step 5: CLEANSE THE SYSTEM
Flush the chemicals out of the heat exchanger with fresh water through the PRV.
Do NOT allow chemicals into the buildings pipes.
a. Close drain ports A and B.
b. Open cold inlet valve C and run fresh water through the PRV for 15 minutes.
c. Clean the filter after flushing the unit with fresh water.
d. Once the unit is flushed and cleansed, the hot outlet valve D may be reopened.
e. Change the temperature back to the desired setting and reapply power to the unit.
Descaling solution example: Virgin White vinegar - Food Grade Acid

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