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Is my Water Heater Gas or Electric?

Although there are other types of water heaters, gas and electric are the most common types, and most likely what you have in your home to heat your water. There are easy steps you can take to figure out whether your water is heated by electricity or gas. Once you determine this, you can begin to explore the benefits of your specific type of water heater and understand general maintenance of the appliance.

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Gas Water Heaters

Water heaters that are powered by gas contain a blue flame, called a pilot light. This flame can be found inside the access panel. Another indicator of a gas water heater is a black pipe that connects to the bottom of the tank. This is the gas line that delivers gas to your heater. A copper pipe may also be used in place of the black pipe. There should also be a vent pipe, generally made from PVC, venting the exhaust created by the gas in the water heater to the outside of your home. These water heaters are fueled by natural gas, and unlike electric heaters will still function properly in the event of a power outage. Their lifespan is about 13 years, and they are slightly more cost-effective than electric water heaters. The recovery rate more than doubles that of an electric water heater, making it more beneficial to larger families. Gas water heaters are not as efficient as their electric counterparts, although high efficiency gas units can be purchased at a higher cost. The three different types of gas water heaters are storage, condensing, and tankless units.

Electric Water Heaters

If there is an electrical supply cord on the top or side of your water heater that plugs into a wall outlet, you have an electric water heater. Another indicator of an electric water heater is the presence of electric resistance coils inside the access panel, which are what heats the water in the tank. Electric water heaters tend to be more efficient than gas heaters, but can cost more than gas units. Their energy source is domestic power, primarily from a coal/natural gas power plant, or nuclear/wind power. Electric water heaters are best for small families, as they have a slower recovery rate than gas water heaters. The general lifetime of an electric water heater is approximately 13 years. High efficiency electric water heaters are available that pull heat from the air surrounding the unit and into the water in the tank, making them ideal for areas with mild to hot climates. The three different types of electric water heaters are storage, heat pump, and tankless units.

Michael Runk Plumbing & Heating offers professional services in Baltimore and the surrounding counties. We install, service and repair all models of gas and electric water heaters, including those that are tankless. If you need further help determining which type of water heater you own, or need service on your appliance, contact us today!

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