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Blog about water heaters

Hot Water Tanks: What you need to know

Hot water tanks are a very important part of our homes, especially in Canada! As you probably know, how water tanks are designed to heat water. They work by drawing cold water from the home’s supply, heating it, and then distributing the water to showers, sinks, etcetera. 

The cold water enters the tank and heads toward the bottom. The temperature that the water is heated to depends on what the thermostat is set to. After reaching the desired heat, the hot water leaves the tank and travels through the pipes. 

What tank should you choose?

Hot water tanks vary in size and model. Tanks can vary from 90 liters to 540 liters. How large your home is, how many showers/bathtubs you have, how big your water-dependent appliances are, will determine what capacity of hot water tank you’ll need. Regarding models, some pros and cons accompany electric water heaters and natural gas water heaters.

Electric Water Heater

Electric water heaters use electric heating elements to heat the water.


  • Electric water heaters have the lowest initial cost
  • They require little maintenance
  • Energy is used efficiently
  • No combustible gases


  • Electric water heaters have a slower water-heating time.
  • If the power goes out, you will not have access to hot water. Keep in mind that some gas water heaters use electrical ignition over a pilot light and will not be able to operate in a power outage either. 

Gas Water Heater

Gas water heaters use a gas-powered flame to heat the water. There can be constantly running pilot lights or an intermittent ignition device. The gas is ignited with a high-voltage spark when heat is needed. 


  • While gas water heaters have a higher initial cost, they are cheaper to operate as the cost of natural gas is lower than electricity.
  • There is an option to buy a model that does not employ a continuously-burning pilot light to ignite the gas, which will further reduce the cost.
  • They are reliable in power outages.
  • Gas models are able to heat water quickly.


  • Gas water heaters require more maintenance.
  • They are worse for the environment. 

Tankless Heaters

These only heat water when necessary. When you turn a tap on, the water is channeled through the unit, and there, it is heated by a highly intense gas or a highly intense electrical element. Turning off the hot water will stop the system. 


  • You don’t run out of hot water, no matter how many people are showering. 
  • With tankless heaters, you only pay for the heat on the water you use when you are using it. Overall, they can cut gas bills quite significantly. 
  • Gas tankless heaters can come with an intermittent ignition device rather than a consistent pilot light. Therefore, the tank is not using natural gas when it’s not running. 
  • Their parts are easy to replace and they last a long time.
  • They are small and do not take up a lot of space.


  • Tankless heaters have a higher upfront cost and can be more expensive than other hot water tanks.
  • If you run a lot of hot water appliances at the same time (dishwasher, laundry, shower), the output of hot water can take longer than a tank heater.
  • Some of the tanks require more servicing. Manufacturers sometimes recommend their tankless heaters should be serviced once a year. 

Importance of Upkeep

No matter what type of water heater you decide to choose, or which one you already have, maintenance is necessary. Not only will servicing your water heater keep you and your family safe, but the upkeep will keep your system running smoothly and for a longer period of time. 

Annual testing is a good idea. If you find yourself experiencing hot water shortages or lukewarm water, it may be time for us to visit. Temperature and pressure valves should be checked because they keep your heater being overexerted. 

Furthermore, calcium can build up and affect your system’s efficiency. When calcium settles at the bottom of your water heater, it struggles to produce hot water and can reduce the amount of water available. With electric heaters, the calcium can damage the heating element. In gas heaters, the minerals might create hot spots; subsequently, hot spots may appear and the tank will suffer damage and could fail. To remove the damaging minerals, we can flush your tank during an inspection. 

Rust buildup is another possibility, which can lead to a leak or contaminated water. Did you know that a leak of one drip per second wastes 1,661 gallons of water, and can cost up to $35.00 a year?

When we check out your water heater, we can find the problems before they become unfixable. You want your system to last for as long as possible, and we can help with that.  


There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a water heater for your home. There are multiple options available, which means that you can pick the system that suits your and your family’s needs. When picking a heater, think about your situation: how big is your house, do you have multiple baths/showers, what is your budget, are you hoping to be more environmentally friendly, how many people are in your family? 

No matter what you choose, remember the importance of upkeep and maintenance. We want to help you distinguish small problems before they become unmanageable, or dangerous. 

If you feel unsure or overwhelmed about your hot water system decisions or issues, you can talk to our experts. 

MacLeod’s Plumbing and Heating

We at MacLeod’s Plumbing and Heating have over 20 years of experience. As a family-run business, we hold quality work and safety dear to our hearts. Among other specializations, we are experts in hot water tank repair and hot water tank replacement. Our goal is to be fast and efficient; with our fully certified technicians, we are confident in our aid. 

Additionally, we offer 24/7 hot water tank service in Calgary. No matter the time, our technicians can be ready to help. Hot water tank issues and emergencies can be nerve-wracking, but we are only a phone call away!