Electric water heaters come in many sizes

13 Feb Do I Have a Gas or Electric Water Heater?

Do I Have a Gas or Electric Water Heater?


If you have hot running water, your home has a water heater. This appliance would be difficult to live without. There are many types of water heaters and odds may be that you aren’t sure what kind of hot water heater your home is using. The most common types are gas and electric water heaters. Less common types are the propane, solar and oil water heaters.


An electric water heater uses electric resistance coils, while a gas water heater utilizes natural gas for heating water. Fortunately, there are easy ways to determine the type of water heater you have in your home. This information can help you better maintain your water heater.


How To Determine The Type Of Water Heater You Have


Determining the type of water heater you have only requires a few observations. However, if you’re unsure, feel free to contact a professional Ben Franklin plumber!


Black Gas Pipe

Search for a black pipe about a half-inch thick connecting to the bottom of the tank. This is what a typical gas pipeline looks like and thus means your water is heated by gas.


Copper Pipe

If you do not see a black pipe that goes into the water heater, there may be a copper pipe instead. It should be no more than one-fourth of an inch thick and also indicates a gas water heater.


Pilot Light

Another way to determine if your water heater is gas powered is the presence of a pilot light. An electric water heater doesn’t require this heating element to function. To find the pilot light, simply remove the panel on the side of the water heater. The blue flame you might see inside is the pilot light.


Vent Pipe

With a gas water heater, the motor and fan work to expel exhaust produced by the gas. The exhaust travels through a PVC pipe that is between three and four inches thick and exits through the vent. Electric water heaters do not require vents since they do not produce exhaust.


Electricity Supply Cord

The presence of an electric cord, which is usually grey or black, indicates an electric water heater. It is usually thick and resembles an extension cord. The connection for this cord is either on the side or the top of the heater.

How an Electric Water Heater Works


An electric water heater uses a dip tube to intake water and then heats the water using an electrical system. As the water heats, warmer water rises to the top of the tank and exits through the heat-out pipe. This type of heater has to be connected to a power supply.


Electric Water Heater Pros And Cons



  • Less space is needed because there is no exhaust system
  • Variety of available sizes
  • Less energy is used because the heating is not continuous, and only the water you use gets heated



  • An electric water heater is more expensive, even though this type of water heater has a higher efficiency.
  • The larger your household – the slower your water will heat


How a Gas Water Heater Works


Similar to an electric water heater, a gas water heater uses a dip tube to bring in cold water. The burner burns the gas that heats up and expels through a chimney. As the chimney heats up, so does the water surrounding it. The warmer water rises and then flows out into your home’s plumbing.


Gas Water Heater Pros And Cons



  • Not affected by power outages
  • Heats up more water faster, making them ideal for large families



  • More expensive than electric options
  • Pose potential for gas leaks
  • Gas heating is less efficient because water that may not be used gets heated

Tips For Maintaining Your Water Heater


No matter what type of water heating system your home has, there are ways to save energy and extend the life of your water heater. Having a professional make the following adjustments can save you money on your energy bill and keep you from having to purchase another unit.


Lower The Temperature
Electric water heater temperature change

Everyone needs a steamy hot shower or bath every once in a while, but water does not have to be steaming to be comfortable. If you are interested in saving about 5% for every ten degrees of water temperature, then you might consider having the water temperature lowered.
A recommended setting is 120 degrees Fahrenheit, or even lower if you plan to be away for a few or more days.


Flush The Tank

Hiring someone to clean out the sediment that rests at the bottom of your tank can increase the efficiency of your water heater. The process includes draining the tank and stirring up old sediment until the water is clear.


Add Insulation

You can reduce heat loss and prolong the life of your water heater by insulating it. This involves covering the water heater and any pipes that are exposed.


Yearly Inspections
Electric water heaters should be maintained

It is recommended to have your water heating system maintained at least once a year by a professional. They would check for leaks, corrosion and exhaust problems and clean or replace the burner and the anode rod.


Don’t hesitate to contact a professional plumber if you have questions or concerns about your home’s water heater. If you are unsure about the kind of water heater in your home, installing a new water heater, or are in need of water heater service contact Benjamin Franklin Plumbing Duncanville today! Ben Franklin is your trusted Duncanville plumber!


Benjamin Franklin Plumbing Duncanville serves the Southwest Dallas cities of Cedar Hill, Dallas DeSoto, Duncanville, Glenn Heights, Grand Prairie, Maypearl, Midlothian, Oak Cliff, Oak Leaf, Ovilla, Red Oak and Waxahachie with a team of certified plumbers. In addition to emergency plumbing repair, some of the plumbing services provided by the company include: faucet repair, drain services, toilet repair, plumbing fixture installations, tub and shower installations, kitchen sink repair, faucet installation, water heater repair/replacement, and garbage disposal replacement. Call us today at (972) 263-5010 to schedule an appointment!
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