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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What does the Energy Factor (EF) on my water heater mean?

A:The water heater Energy Factor (EF) is a measure of the overall efficiency of the water heater. This is determined by comparing the energy in the heated water used daily to the total daily energy consumption of the water heater. The EF can be used to compare the energy efficiency of water heaters. Water heaters with higher EFs will have lower annual operating costs than comparable models with lower EFs. A higher EF signifies a more efficient model. Water heaters with high EF ratings may cost more initially, but save energy and money in the long run. Eventually, they will pay for themselves through a lifetime of energy savings.

Q: Where is the “anode rod” and what does it do?

A:For most water heaters, the anode rod is attached to the hot water outlet of the water heater. If you are facing the front of the water heater (where the labels are), the hot water outlet is on the left hand side. The anode rod is often referred to as a “sacrificial rod”. Most water is rarely “pure”. It can contain oxygen, magnesium, fluoride, chlorine and suspended particles. These components, in the concentrations in your water, are usually not bad for you. However, they do contribute to the taste and smell of the water. They also impart a slight conductivity to the water. Through an electrical process called electrolysis, this conductivity will eventually (over a long period of time) cause most metal to rust or corrode. When the water is heated, this electrical process can be accelerated. Most water heaters are made of a steel tank with a porcelain enamel (glass) lining. However, due to production and assembly methods, it is not always possible to completely cover the inside of the tank. Therefore it’s important to provide metal that can be consumed by the electrical process. This is where the sacrificial anode rod comes in. By acting as a lightning rod for the corrosion process, the anode rod draws the harmful electrolytic process away from the water heater tank and focuses the corrosion on the anode rod. Even though the Bradford White manufacturing process is the best in the industry, our water heaters need this sacrificial anode rod to ensure that the electrolysis doesn’t affect the tanks.

Q: Why doesn't my old water heater make as much hot water as it used to?

A:You might have sediment buildup in your tank. As water heaters age, they tend to accumulate sediment and lime deposits. If the heaters are not cleaned periodically, the sediment may rise to a level that will act as a barrier between the burner and the water, making it harder to heat. An article published in a national ASPE plumbing journal states: for every half inch of sediment on the bottom of a gas fired water heater, it requires 70% more fuel to heat the water.

Q: Why does my water smell like rotten eggs?

A:The combined presence of hydrogen, sulfur, and bacteria cause foul smelling water. The magnesium anode rod installed in the tank protects the tank surface but generates enough hydrogen to create an odor when it interacts with sulfur in the water or bacteria in the tank. Replacing the magnesium anode rod with an aluminum anode may minimize the problem. The most efficient method of eliminating the hydrogen sulfide odor is to control the bacteria. As a rule, chlorination of public water supplies kills the bacteria, but some private well systems may need to be purified by the use of chlorine injectors or ultraviolet light. This will destroy the bacteria.

Q: What type of maintenance should I do on my water heater?

A:Bradford White always recommends that you contact a plumbing professional to perform any maintenance or repairs to your water heater – from periodic checks on the anode rod to ensuring that all connections are secure. Recommendations for maintenance are in your Installation and Operation manual. However, there are a few things that you can do: • Ensure that there are no sources of flammable vapors in the same area as your water heater (this includes gasoline, heating oils, lighter fluid, propane, etc.). • Keep the top of the water heater clean. If you notice water dripping on the water heater from any piping, contact a plumbing professional to have the leak repaired. • Keep the space around your water heater clean and free of dirt, boxes, paint cans, aerosol cans, household cleaners and trash. It is important to keep the heater accessible for proper operation and easy maintenance." ( Courtesy of Bradford White Corporation,

Q: Will installing a water softener extend the life of my water heater?

A: Due to the extremely hard water in Arizona, many people have looked to water softeners as a means to condition their water. Although water softeners are very beneficial for most every fixture in the home, it is actually detrimental to the water heater. In the water softening process, the calcium and magnesium ions are replaced with sodium ions. This trace amount of sodium breaks down the sacrificial anode rod in the water heater quicker, ultimately cutting down the life of the water heater. From our experience in Arizona, a water heater in a home with a water softener will last approx. 6-9 years, in a home without a water softener, 8-12 years. Water softeners do not have the same adverse effect on tankless and hybrid units; conversely, they are beneficial.

Q: What is the best brand of water heater?

A: We recommend Bradford White Water Heaters for most of our local water heater installs. They use a state of the art Honeywell thermostat, a hydrojet dip tube to help eliminate sediment buildup, and are still made in the USA. The truth of the matter is, most standard water heaters are going to last about the same amount of time unless they have upgraded anode rods, or the anode rods are changed periodically.

Q: Is my water heater under warranty?

A: A typical water heater will have a 6 year warranty; this warranty starts from the day of install. With many new homes popping up, it is good to know that the warranty starts from the date the deed was signed. If you are unsure, give us a call and we can help figure out if you have any remaining warranty.

Q: When is the best time to replace my water heater?

A: It is best to change a water heater towards the end of its life cycle BEFORE it leaks. This prevents the chance of water damage and the need for additional repairs. Some older homes may have water heaters well beyond the normal life cycle, but older units are much less efficient than the energy star models of today. Typically, an energy star water heater installed in a home can pay for itlself in energy savings in 3-5 years. Obviusly, if your water heater is leaking you are going to want to get to problem assessed as soon as possible.

Q: Why should I choose ProSkill Plumbing for my next water heater install?

A: No Service Charge* FREE on-site or over the phone estimates Absolute best price, Guaranteed! Upfront Pricing, you approve the cost before the work is done Uniformed technicians show up on time in clearly marked vehicles Booties & drop clothes are used to protect your home 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed *some restrictions apply


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