Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the best brand of water heater?
In our experience, we feel that Bradford White is the best water heater for our customers. Their gas water heaters have an easy to work on gas control valve that operates well for water heaters in the attic, they are built with brass and strong materials, and generally do not require maintenance to provide years of solid service.
2. What models of water heaters do you carry?
Our company installs the Bradford White 40 gallon gas short water heater (BRG240S6N500), 40 gallon gas tall water heater (BRG240T6N500), and 50 gallon gas tall water (BRG250T6N500).
3. What is the difference between a Bradford White water heater vs a water heater I can pick up from a Home Improvement store?
Great Question! Please check out our handy guide here for a visual representation of the difference. The biggest reason a Bradford White water heater will last longer than a water heater purchased from a Home Improvement Store is that the
gas control valve for Bradford White water heaters are made with Brass and have been used for decades. This means repair parts are easily available, whereas the models carried by Home Improvement stores with a Honeywell gas valve
have a motherboard installed that is not available unless you contact the manufacturer tech-support. Also, we have found that water heaters with a motherboard are not as reliable when installed in a hot attic when compared to water heaters with a traditional brass gas control valve.
4. How can I get instant hot water throughout my house?
If you have a traditional gas water heater, there are recirculating pumps available that can be installed on top of the water heater and a special fitting that is installed underneath the sink on the farthest sides of the house where you need hot water more quickly. These are a great solution as it does not require cutting into sheetrock or running a dedicated hot water recirculating line to all the plumbing fixtures.
For tankless water heaters, there are some models that come with a recirculation system that can be installed. However, many manufacturers will lower the warranty on their tankless if a recirculating pump is installed as it does wear down the tankless more quickly.
5. Will a water softener help my water heater last longer?
This is a tricky question to answer. Theoretically, a gas water heater can wear down more quickly if there is a lot of hard scale at the bottom of the water heater. This requires the burner to heat up longer which can wear down the water
heater tank. By installing a water softener to remove scale buildup, it should last longer. However, we have seen new water heaters fail within 3 years after a water softener was installed. The reason why is that the softened water may aggressively
eat away at the anode rod for the water heater. If the anode rod is completely worn away, there is nothing left to protect the water heater from corroding out.
6. How long should a water heater last?
Many plumbers believe that a water heater should last approximately 8-12 years on average. We generally advise customers with water heaters in the attic to plan to replace their heaters during this time period to lessen the risk of a leaking water
heater from causing damage to their ceiling or bedroom underneath the attic.
7. Should I drain my water heater every year?
Most water heater manufacturers recommend that the water heater be flushed out annually to prevent hard water scale deposits from forming on the bottom of the water heater. We have found that many homeowners do not perform this service and can still expect a reasonable life span for their water heater.
8. Is there any kind of maintenance or annual tuneup I should do for my water heater?
There are a few steps you can take to extend the lifespan of your water heater. The easiest step is to drain the water heater once per year to a bathtub or to the outside in order to flush out scale deposits from the bottom of the tank. Your water heater
has a pressure relief valve that is recommended by manufacturers to be tested once per year, and replaced after every few years. The pressure relief valve is a safety device that allows any hot water and steam to exit the tank to the outside to prevent the water heater from exploding, so it’s important that this valve be in good working condition. The last thing you can do to help extend the lifespan of the water heater is to replace the anode rod every few years. The anode rod is a steel rod that is designed to help protect the lining of the water heater tank. Over time, the anode rod decomposes and after it’s fully broken down, the lining of the water heater tank can then prematurely wear down which can cause the tank to leak.
9. Is a Tankless Water Heater better than a regular Water Heater?
In certain applications, yes. Tankless water heaters have the following benefits.
- Unlimited hot water.
- Longer *ESTIMATED* lifespan when compared to a traditional tank (more on this in a bit)
- Lower energy bills
- No standing pilot light that can go out from the high temperatures when located in the attic.
- No anode rod to go out or replace.
- No threat of 40-50 gallons of water leaking out above your ceiling.
10. What are the drawbacks to tankless water heaters when compared to traditional tank style water heaters?
- Tankless water heaters require electricity to operate. If there is a hurricane that knocks out the electricity to your home, you will not be able to take a hot shower until the electricity is restored to the tankless. In comparison, a traditional gas water heater will still continue to provide hot water.
- Even though a tankless water heater can be *ESTIMATED* to last 20 years by some manufacturers, there is some maintenance required by the homeowner. Every tankless manufacturer will note in their installation manual that if hard water is present, the tankless unit will need to be serviced by flushing out with vinegar for about an hour. This is something that takes more time and tools than the typical homeowner feels comfortable with performing, and as a result is a more costly expense than flushing out a traditional tank style water heater. If a tankless fails because of hard water scale calcifying the inside of the tankless, that is not something that is covered by most manufacturer warranties.
- Tankless water heaters have a maximum output of hot water available during ideal operating conditions. This number can range from 5.0- 9.5 GPM (Gallons Per Minute) of hot water. This number can fluctuate when the incoming water temperature gets colder during winter months, so for example, even though you may be able to run 2 showers and a bathtub during summer, you may only be able to run 1 shower and a bathtub during the winter months.
- “Cold Water Sandwich”. For those unfamiliar with this term, it is an industry term that refers to what the homeowner may experience when first using their tankless. Unlike a tank of hot water, a tankless operates by heating the water as it travels through the tankless water heater. What this means is that if a homeowner turns on the hot water to their shower, they may get an initial burst of hot water which is already in the pipe, followed by cold water as the tankless kicks on and begins heating the water. After the tankless begins to heat the water, hot water returns. This is something that most tankless water heaters have, and can take a little getting used to by homeowners.
- Serviceability. If a regular gas water heater in the attic or garage has issues, most supply houses keep repair parts such as the thermocouple or gas control valve in stock so that way hot water can be restored same day. With a tankless, in many cases the plumber cannot go to a supply house to pick up parts. Troubleshooting the tankless water heater can be a time consuming process which costs the customer money, and repair parts are typically sent by the manufacturer after their tech support has had the plumber troubleshoot the issue with them. Shipping times for parts from the manufacturer can range from Next-Day Air to several business days. If the tankless fails during the Winter months, that can be a lot of uncomfortable cold showers until the parts come in!
- The final drawback to tankless water heaters is the price when compared to replacing their traditional water heater. Replacing a 40 gallon gas water heater or 50 gallon gas water heater with a tankless water heater involves several improvements. A tankless water heater in the attic will require being plugged into an electrical outlet, which is something that a lot of attics in the Spring, Magnolia, Tomball or Houston areas do not have already. The exhaust vent typically requires being replaced with either a manufacturer-specific exhaust vent or PVC, so your plumber may require a roofer to come install on a difficult roof. The water lines will also need to be rerouted from the top of the previous gas water heater to the bottom of the tankless water heater. Tankless water heaters will also require a larger gas line in many cases.
11. Wow! It sounds like tankless water heaters are not the way to go.
Not necessarily. Even with all the drawbacks, many customers feel that a tankless is a better fit for them than a traditional tank style water heater. Larger families appreciate being able to take back-to-back showers without running out of hot water, there is a certain peace of mind knowing a 40 or 50 gallon tank of water will not leak out from the attic, and they are more energy efficient than a traditional gas water heater. We do not “push” tankless water heaters to all customers. It is our duty to inform and educate our customers in order to allow them to make the best decision for their family’s needs.
12. Can I get more hot water without switching to a tankless?
Absolutely! Some solutions may involve installing a second gas water heater, upgrading the existing 40 gallon gas water heater to a 50 gallon gas water heater, or installing a tempering valve. The most cost-effective solution is the tempering valve. This allows your water heater to be heated at the max temperature, and is then lowered to usually 120-125 Fahrenheit when exiting the tempering valve. What this does is provide the tank with enough heat to keep a longer flow of hot water available. A tempering valve can increase the hot water available by 1/4 to 1/3 the capacity of the tank.
13. My Gas Water Heater makes a popping sound when someone is taking a shower. Does that mean I need to replace my water heater?
What is most likely happening is that the bottom of the water heater has a lot of sediment or hard water scale that’s developed. When the water heater burner kicks on because hot water is being used up, the flame causes the sediment to pop and rise up. It’s mainly an annoyance. You can attempt to drain the water heater, but in a lot of cases the sediment is so thick that it doesn’t make a huge difference in removing the sound. Usually water heaters with this problem are older than 8 years and should be considered with replacement.
14. My water heater is leaking. What should I do?
If you can, try to shut the water off to the water heater by turning off the water valve near the top of the water heater. If the valve does not turn or if it breaks, the water to the house should be shut off. If safe to do so, attempt to shut off the
gas valve near the bottom of the water heater. Contact a licensed plumbing professional such as By The Book Plumbing at 281-907-2092 to schedule an appointment to take care of the leak.
15. How long does it take to replace a water heater? I don’t want to take a cold shower!
By The Book Plumbing carries both a 40 gallon gas water heater and a 50 gallon gas water heater on our truck to allow for same day water heater replacement. In many cases, we are able to replace the existing water heater in the attic or garage within 2-4 hours. For customers with two water heaters, we will need to make a trip to the supply house to pick up a second water heater, but in those instances we are still able to have both units swapped out within 3-5 hours from arrival on site in most cases.
16. Do you offer emergency service? It’s Saturday night at 9 PM and our water heater just sprung a leak.
Our standard business hours are from 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM Monday through Friday. Water heater replacement outside of those hours can be done by appointment only. If you contact our office at 281-907-2092, our office assistant will send your information to the owner James Smith, who will then contact you back generally within 15-30 minutes to let you know when we can arrive to take care of your
water heater emergency.
17. Why are water heaters installed inside the attic?
Great question! Builders like to put water heaters inside the attic because it makes things a lot more simple during home construction. When a water heater is located inside the attic, the exhaust vent can go straight up to the roof without passing an obstacle such as a bedroom, closet, or upstairs living area. Because the air conditioning system and furnace are in the attic, a gas line is usually present as well to supply fuel for the water heater. Lastly, having the water heater in the attic makes it easier to drop down hot water lines to faucets, so it helps the homebuilder’s efficiency. When it comes time to replace a water heater in the attic, it is more expensive than if the water heater were in the garage due to extra time and labor needed to access the unit. It is also more dangerous for the plumber working in the attic during the summer as a Houston attic can easily reach over 150 Fahrenheit during our summer months.
Professional, timely, and excellent communication! My shower drain was clogging up frequently. James came out and was able to find the problem....nails! Apparently the builders allowed nails to go down the drain and did not take them out. He was able to remove them all and my drain has worked perfectly since. Will definitely use again!
James did a great job in diagnosing and fixing my garbage disposal. A definite A+ in reliability and honesty! I would definitely recommend his services.
Had the opportunity for James to work in my home on a couple of projects. I was upgrading my bathroom when the tile installer was unable to install the toilet. James came in and not only installed one but suggested I get a taller one with a more efficient water consumption. My shower head was old and stained he brought in a new shower head that is beautiful and completed my new look. He was quick courteous and professional. I can enjoy my bath area and can say to James, job well done!
Awesome guy and great service! He got us fixed under budget and on a Saturday. He was on time, knowledgeable, and professional. We definitely will use him in the future. If any one needs a great plumber give James a call.