replace water heater element
Replace element
Waterheatertimer.org
is a self-help site
Emergency steps to turn off water heater
Figure Volts Amps Watts for water heater How to wire tankless electric
How to install point of use water heater Point of use water heater
Compare 16 electric and 3 gas water heater timers Troubleshoot Rheem tankless Figure correct wire and breaker 9 ways to save with water heater
How to install recirculation system Point of use water heater
T100 series timersProgrammable wall timersAuto-off timersBox timers
How to set timers
How electric water heater works Troubleshoot electric water heater Troubleshoot gas water heater How to wire subpanel Do-it-yourself

How to maintain water heater
2014

How to replace water heater element

With information about buying elements  -and-  How to clean sediment out of tank 

Camco elements

Use 1-1/2" socket
Low watt density means heat is spread across more surface area. Low density element resists burnout
Watts/ square inch = density

Any element will work on any AC voltage, but the watt ouput drops as voltage drops. Watt density also drops with less voltage. So lower watt element also resists burnout.

Match voltage that is printed on element. Do not buy more wattage than is printed on end of element. Do not install 5500 watt element to replace 4500 watt element.

Installing lower watt element is ok. Lower watt means less heat, so element can last longer

240 volt 4500 watt element heats about 21 gallons per hour. 3500 watt heats about 16 gallons per hour.
Water heater formulas/ pdf
$25 - $47
Ultra low watt density
5 year warranty
Ultra Low Watt Density/ ripple
Hard water element
Resists high mineral count
Minimum 15" diameter tank
Buy 240 volt:
4500 watt at Amazon
4500 watt at Amazon 13" diameter
5500 watt at Amazon
Camco elements at Amazon

Lifetime warranty
4500 watt +limited lifetime element

Reliance / no extended warranty
Low density/ ripple
Min 13" tank
Buy 240 Volt
Reliance 4500 watt at Amazon
Reliance 5500 watt ripple at Amazon
Reliance elements at Amazon
$13 - $26
Ultra low watt density
5 year warranty
Ultra Low Watt Density/ foldback
Hard water element
Resists high mineral count
Check minimum tank diameter
Fits any tank above minimum dia
Buy 120 volt
1500 watt 120 volt 8" minimum
Buy 240 volt:
2500 watt at Amazon 
3500 watt at Amazon
4500 watt at Amazon
5500 watt at Amazon

Warranties do not cover dry fire (electricity ON before tank is full of water).
Resource:
Read about dry fire/ pdf page 2
$10 - $16

Low watt density
Camco/ no extended warranty
Low Watt Density/ foldback

Check minimum tank diameter
Fits any tank above minimum dia
Buy 240 volt:
2500 watt at Amazon
3500 watt at Amazon
4500 watt at Amazon
4500 watt 12 pack
5500 watt at Amazom

6000 watt at Amazon/ 17" minimum tank  (6000 watts requires 8 guage wire)

Elements on this webpage are rated for AC voltages. Do not connect AC water heater elements directly to DC power from solar panels. Danger of high heat and melting.
$10 - $12
Low watt density
Camco/ no extended warranty/
High Watt Density
Standard on all new water heater
Can use foldback as replacement
Match volts and watts
Check minimum tank diameter
120 Volt point-of-use water heater
Buy 120 volt:
1000 watt 120 volt 8" tank diameter
1500 watt 120 volt 8' tank diameter
1650 watt 120 volt 7.5" minimum
1750 watt 120 volt 9" minimum
2000 watt 120 volt 9" minimum
120 Volt elements at Amazon
Buy 240 volt
1500 watt at Amazon
2000 watt 12 pack
2500 watt at Amazon
3000 watt at Amazon
3500 watt at Amazon
3800 watt at Amazon
4000 watt at Amazon
4500 watt at Amazon
4500 watt 12 pack
Replace water heater elements
Element is resistive load
Light bulb is resistive load
When voltage drops, light bulb dims and element gives off less heat.
Low voltage can cause less hot water
Test element before replacing
Fairly straightforward. Look at watts and volts printed on end of each element. Match volts shown on element.
Look at water heater label located on side of tank
Label shows volts and watts/ upper element / lower element/ total connected watts / buy same wattage or less wattage
Some tanks have higher wattage on upper element, and lower wattage on lower element... might save money
All new water heaters come with high density elements. Replace with high or low density as long as watts and volts are same.
No loss of efficiency choosing either low or high density.
Lower watt density tend to last longer. Lower wattage can also last longer.
Foldback elements including Camco 5-year warranty elements (shown above) are for problem water with high mineral content
Residential: Both elements are never ON at same time... upper element ON -or lower element ON -or both elements OFF
Do not connect Solar Panel (DC photovoltaic) directly to water heater element. DC amps can melt AC elements 
Buy DC element at Amazon
Resource:
Figure volts amps watts for water heater
How electric water heaters work
Photovoltaic electric water heater

Rheem elements

Use 1-1/2" socket
Resistorized is unique to Rheem which claims longer life because resistor is added. No science supports the claim of longer life, but each installation is different

Cold resistance: measuring ohms across both screw when no wires are attached to element and element is not heated. Test element

240 volt 4500 watt elements will produce 3800 watt  at 208 volt


480 volt elements shown on right are two-wire. Same watts at higher volts draws less amperage.
Any 2-wire element 208 240 277 480 Volt can be used on commercial water heaters that are rated single-pole or 3-phase non-balanced.
6-wire 3-phase elements are not covered here.
See wiring for 3-phase balanced
$30 - $40 per element

Low watt density
Resistorized
Rheem/ no extended warranty
Low Watt Density/ foldback
Buy 240 volt/ resistorized:
4000 watt resistorized
4500 watt resistorized at Amazon
5000 watt resistorized
6000 watt resistorized
Buy 208 volt:
2000 watt 208 volt at Amazon
4000 watt 208 volt resistorized
4500 watt 208 volt resistorized
5000 watt 208 volt resistorized
6000 watt 208 volt resistorized
Buy 480 volt (can be used 3-phase element non-balanced):
4000 watt 480 volt at Amazon
4500 watt 480 volt at Amazon
4500 watt 480 volt
5000 watt 480 volt
6000 watt 480 volt
Buy 277 volt:
2000 watt 277 volt at Amazon
4000 watt 277 volt at Amazon
4500 watt 277 volt at Amazon
5000 watt 277 volt at Amazon
6000 watt 277 volt at Amazon
$17 - $30 per element


Low watt density
Low watt density
Rheem/ no extended warranty
Low Watt Density/ foldback
Minimum 14" diameter tank
Buy 240 volt/ copper non- resistorized:
4500 watt copper 240 volt

Buy 240 volt/ stainless steel non- resistorized:
4500 non-resistorized Amazon
5500 non-resistorized Amazon


Rheem elements at Amazon
$10 - $12 per element


Rheem/ no extended warranty
NON-resistorized copper
I know of no advantage of copper vrs stainless steel or other materials
High Watt Density

Buy: 120 volt copper:
2000 watt 120 volt

Buy: 240 volt copper:
1500 watt 240 volt
2000 watt 240 volt at Amazon
3000 watt 240 volt
3000 watt 240 volt
4500 watt 240 volt
5500 watt 240 volt

Buy 208 volt:
2000 watt 208 volt at Amazon
$10 - $20 per element

Camco element socket

Use 1-1/2" socket to remove elements

Buy:
Camco element socket

Tekton water heater socket
Deep impact socket

$20
16" breaker bar fits impact socket

$7
Ordinary Residential element wrench

Today's hex-head elements have rounded corners, and thinner profile. Making it difficult to hold wrench on element while turning.
Socket is easier to use than ordinary element wrench.
Use weight of water: Loosen element while tank is full of water. Then drain tank before unscrewing element.

Camco Universal flange/ & Flat flange

Including small tank,  point-of-use water heater elements

$20 - $30 per element

Universal flange high density
Camco/
5 year warranty
Low density foldback
Hard water element
Resists high mineral count
Buy 240 Volt
4500 watt 240 volt
5500 watt 240 volt

Warranties do not cover dry fire (electricity ON before tank full of water).
Resource:
Read about dry fire/ pdf page
$15 - $20 per element

Universal flange high density
Camco/ no extended warranty
Low density foldback
Minimum Tank diameter varies
Buy 240 Volt universal flange
4500 watt 240 volt 13' tank
4500 watt 12 pack
4500 watt 240 volt 9" diameter

Buy 240 Volt flat flange
4500 watt 240 volt 13" tank
4500 watt 240 volt 15" tank
$10 - $20 per element

Universal flange high density
Camco/ no extended warranty
High density
Minimum Tank diameter varies
Buy 120 Volt 6-9" diameter tank
1500 watt 120 volt 9" tank
2000 watt 120 volt 9" tank
Buy 240 Volt
1500 watt 240 volt 8" tank
1500 watt 6 pack
2500 watt 240 volt 10" tank
2500 watt 6 pack
3000 watt 240 volt 12" tank
3000 watt flat flange 14" tank
3500 watt 240 volt 14" tank
4000 watt 240 volt 15" tank
4500 watt 240 volt 15" tank
$8 - $10 per element

Convert flat flange element to screw-type element
Larger image/ uses 3/8" screws
Convert flange to screw-type
Convert round, flat and universal
Fot any standard water heater
Buy:
Camco adapter kit
Reliance adapter kit

American Water Heater adapter
Rheem adapter flange
Resource:
How to install adapter kit /pdf page 2

Elements + Thermostats kits

Therm-o-disc and Aprom style and other type thermostats are interchangable

Buy:
Water heater thermostats at Amazon

Buy commercial thermostat
Camco (commercial only)
Camco (commercial only)
Commerical has higher temperature range that exceeds tank rating for residentail water heaters

Resource
How to replace thermostats


$48 for 2 elements 2 thermostats


Buy low density kit:
Apcom plumbers pack Amazon
2 low density 240 Volt 4500 watt elements/
Upper and lower thermostat

All brands of thermostats are interchangeable

Resource
How to replace thermostats



$35 for 2 elements 2 thermostats

Apcom thermostats
Buy high density kit:
Apcom plumbers pack Amazon
2 high density 240 volt 4500 watt elements
+ Upper and lower thermostat

All brands of thermostats are interchangeable

Resource
How to replace thermostats
$45 for 2 elements 2 thermostats

Therm-o-disc thermostats
Buy low or high density kit:
Therm-O-disc low density plumbers pack
Therm-O-disc high density plumbers pack
Therm-O-disc high density
2 low or high density 240 Volt 4500 watt elements/
+ Upper and lower thermostat

All brands of thermostats are interchangeable
Resource
How to replace thermostats

Rheem marathon element
Rheem marathon element
Use 1-7/8 element wrench
1.5" UNF not 1" NPSM
14 threads per inch vrs 11.5
Read parts .pdf before buying
Buy:
1-7/8" water heater element wrench
SP210197/ 3800 watt
SP210201/ 3000 watt
SP210198/ 3800 watt
SP213670/ 4500 watt
SP213480/ 3000 watt
SP213540/ 2000 watt
SP610130/ 3800 watt
SP213820/ 3800 watt
SP610140/ 5500 watt
SP610150/ 3000 watt
Resources
Marathon parts sheet/ pdf
Water heater element

Identify Element wattage and voltage

Watt rating of tank appears on label on side of tank
Match same watt rating of new and old elements. Smaller wattage is ok. Larger wattage is not ok.
Product warranty, and electrical safety code, support same-wattage or smaller-wattage element.
Do not use larger wattage element than shows on water heater label.

12 gauge wire and 20 amp breaker, use max 3800 watt element
10 gauge wire and 30 amp breaker, use max 6000 watt element
What size wire do you have? Buy short pieces 10 and 12 gauge wire and compare with your wire
Resources:
Choose wire and breaker
Figure volts amps watts for water heater
Water heater is tripping breaker
Identify water heater element

Buy smaller wattage or same wattage element

Larger wattage voids product warranty, plus possible fire hazard.
Smaller wattage will NOT void product warranty.
Smaller is better: will cause electrical breaker to run cooler, and element and breaker last longer.
Smaller wattage will heat water less quickly.

Resources:
240Volt / 4500 watt element heats 21 gallons per hour; 3500 heats 16 gallons per hour  See chart
Clean old elements using white vinegar
Elements are sold at local hardware or home center, or on-line. Buy extra to keep onhand.
See ways to increase amount of hot water
How to select right water heater element .pdf
Reset button

1) Before replacing element: Press reset button and see if heater works

Press reset button. Put ear against tank and listen for bubbly fizzing sound
If reset button will not reset and lock in place, then  replace thermostat
If reset keeps trippiing, then element might be one cause: read reset keeps tripping
Resources:

How to replace thermostat
Buy water heater thermostats at Amazon

2) Before replacing element: Reset circuit breaker

Push breaker fully OFF and then fully ON
If breaker will not reset, then elements might be the problem, move wires to another same-size breaker like dryer circuit
If water heater works fine on different same-size breaker, then replace breaker: read how to replace circuit breaker
If breaker resets but keeps tripping, then elements might be the problem: read water heater is tripping breaker
Resources:
Water heater is tripping circuit breaker
How to replace circuit breaker
Test electricity

3) Before replacing element: Test if water heater is getting Voltage

Test across top two screws on upper thermostat
Tape tester leads to wood sticks... keep hands away from live power
If voltage does not show on tester, then power coming to water heater is suspect

4) No Hot water / Less Hot water can be bad element/ or bad thermostats

Test elements as shown below. If elements check out, then replace thermostats
If upper element is bad, there will be no hot water

5) Very hot water can be shorted element/ or bad thermostats

Test each element screw to metal tank as shown below
If elements are OK, then replace thermostats
How to replace thermostats
Troubleshoot resources

6) Before replacing element: Test element

Less hot water and no hot water indicate possible element failure, or thermostat failure, or low voltage etc. Test elements.
Requires multimeter/ power is off/ do not drain tank/ remove wires from element/ takes 10 minutes
Look at volts watts printed on end of element/ Put battery in multimeter/ Set multimeter to read ohms/ Ω symbol
No wires on element. Test for ohms across both screws on element/ volts squared divided by watts = ohms
Test for ohms between each screw and the steel tank/ should read zero
Step by step: How to test elements
Buy multimeter at Amazon
Larger image

7) General troubleshoot

If there is some hot water, then upper element is good. Test lower element.   Action:  How to test water heater element
If both elements are good. Action: Push reset button, reset circuit breaker before replacing both thermostats
Overheating, or very hot water: Action: test both elements before replacing both thermostats. Read more
Reset button keeps tripping: Action: test both elements before replacing thermostats. Read more
NO hot water: Action: Press reset button. Fully reset circuit breaker, test both elements. Read more
New water heater, or repaired water heater not working: Read action
If voltage is reduced, then watt-consumption of element is also reduced. This can cause hot water shortage: Read more
More resources:
How to remove stuck element
How to test water heater element
High density element
Low density element
Screw-in elements

Elements burn out frequently?  buy low watt density or lower wattage

1) Use smalller watt element.
Change 4500 watt element to 3500 watt.

2) Or buy low density element.
Buy:
Low density element at Amazon
Low density element at Amazon/ 'lifetime'
See Low density image
element thread to pipe thread

Elements are 1" straight thread/ 

11.5 threads per inch/ Convert element port to 1" pipe thread
Adapt element NPSH straight thread to NPT pipe thread
NPSM thread

Buy:
1x1 at Amazon

Suburban 1440 watt element
3-phase balanced element
6 leads on each element.
Basically there are 3 elements in one.
Each of the 3 elements has 2 wires. So 6 wires total.
3-phase has 3 Hot wires arriving from breaker box
3-phase has A B C hot leads
Hot A connects to one leg of element 1 and one leg of element 2
Hot B conncets to one leg of element 2 and one leg of element 3
Hot 3 connects to one leg of element 1 and one leg of element 3
Each element pulls same amps so load is balanced.
Contrast: Unbalanced 3-phase water heater has 2 ordinary elements.
Hot A feeds 1 leg of element 1, Hot B feeds 1 leg element 2
Hot C feed 1 leg of element 1 and 1 leg of element 2.

3-phase elements

Unbalanced 3-phase: 3-phase non-balanced elements are same as elements shown above
See wiring for 3-phase non-balanced
Balanced 3-phase: Commercial 3-phase balanced elements are not covered here
See wiring for 3-phase balanced
Any 3-phase non-balanced water heater can be converted to single-phase
See 3-phase to single-phase conversion wiring

What is 3-phase
See 3-phase electric water heater service manual

DC water heater element at Amazon

 Installation and tank clean-out / starts here

220 Volt circuit breaker

Step 3: Turn power OFF

Never assume power is OFF

Use non-contact voltage tester on timer, on wire, on outlet to see if power is present.
Press button on tester, if single beep then no power is present. If continuous beep then power is present.
Never stand on bare ground, always stand on dry boards, do not hold or touch anything metal when working on timer or water heater that has power, tape tester leads to wood sticks, never touch wet water heater, or flooded water heater, or timer that had a short or fire without turning power OFF.


Buy:
Multimeters at Amazon
Simple multimeter/ Test continuity or voltage
Buy non-contact voltage tester at Amazon
Electric testers at Amazon

Shop Amazon - Industrial and scientific
Shop Amazon - Industrial Electric Products


Resource:
How to test if water heater electricity is off






Test water heater
See larger
clean out water heater tank

Step 4: See if tank will drain

Do NOT turn off water <> full pressure is needed

Connect garden hose to water heater.
Rotate tank drain counter-clockwise to open.
See if water comes out end of hose.

Wait...
Do Not drain tank yet

Weight of water inside tank will hold tank in place when looseneing element.
clogged water heater

Clogged drain?

Connect washing machine hose to water heater drain-valve <> Connect garden hose between outdoor spigot and washing machine hose <> turn on outdoor spigot for a few seconds so water pressure flushes tank open

Resources
What to do if water heater will not drain
How to replace drain valve
water heater shut off valve

Step 6: Turn off cold water

Turn off water going into water heater. Do this by shutting off water valve just above water heater -or- close main shut-off valve to house
bathtub faucet

Step 7: Open tub valve

Leave tub valve open so at end of job you know when tank is full of water before electricity is turned back on.

Step 8: Remove cover and insulation

Cover and insulation must be put back when finished.
Otherwise thermostat will not read correct temperature.

Cut away foam insulation/ must be put back later

This type insulation is difficult to cut, and leaves small work space
Insulation MUST be put back after element is changed

See Larger

Step 9: Check for Burned wire melted parts 

Sediment filled bottom of tank, reaching element.
Sediment caused element to overheat wire and finally short element.

Resource:
How to test water heater wires

Cut back damaged wire

Test wires
How to test water heater wires
water heater element wrench    

Step 10: Choose Element wrench or socket

Lightweight 1-1/2" element wrench available hardware store, home center, plumbing supply
Best is 1-1/2" socket from automovive supply

Buy:
Water heater element socket 1-1/2" at Amazon
Heating element wrenches at Amazon
Camco heavy duty element socket
Marathon elements are 1-7/8"
electric impact wrench for elements

Electric impact wrench for removing elements/ 

Element installation torque 13-15 ft lbs/ maximum installation torque 18 ft lbs

Buy:
Impact wrenches at Amazon
Special 1-1/2" socket for elements
1-1/16" impact sockets
remove water heater element

Step 11: Loosen element while tank is full of water

Turn element wrench counter-clockwise
Must push against wrench to keep on element
Loosen element before tank is empty of water so weight of water will hold tank while you push on and twist wrench

Do not remove element until tank is empty or water will flood out hole

Also good time to check anode rod
How to replace anode rod

How to remove stuck element

Torch, WD40, drill bolt holes and remove with wrench, use impact wrench
Make sure water heater is full of water / for weight / when loosening element Resource:
Remove rusted/stuck element

Step 12: Drain tank

remove old element

Step 14: Remove element

Take out old element

Before going forward,
Check inside tank for loose pipe coming from top <> broken dip tube causes reduced hot water and wasted electricity

Resources:
Read about dip tubes
Read about anode rods
wet-dry vacuum

Step 15: shop vac and hoses

     Short piece of garden hose bends into tank
     3/4" PVC is nice fit with garden hose
     1" clear tube fits over 3/4" PVC... you can see when stuff is moving by using clear hose
     30" piece of 1/2" CPVC reaches back of tank, and fits into garden hose
Wet dry vacs at Amazon

clean out water heater tank

Step 16: Vacuum out tank

Tape hoses together with duct tape.
Clear package tape also works.

Clear tube is handy
Length of 1" clear tube lets you see if sediment is flowing past. Sediment is a slurry of water and calcium carbonate that clogs the pipe easily <> so it's handy when you can see when the stuff is flowing past.

Short piece of garden hose bends into tank.
Use 1/2" cpvc to break up debris

Protect carpet from rusty water

Buy:
Duct tape from Amazon
Shop vacs at Amazon
Full efficiency is restored to electric water heater after sediment is cleaned out and new lower element installed

o ring on water heater element

Step 17: Check new element & O ring

Put O ring in place
Use new O ring

Best choice is to install new element
Old element can still be good
Test continuity and ohms
How to test element
Test can be done with empty or full tank
Element must be inserted into hole for full test

Scale on old element can be removed by soaking in white vinegar overnight
Test continuity of element
How to test element for continuity
install water heater element

Step 18: Clean opening and install element


No thread sealant needed on threads.
O ring seals opening
install new element

Step 19: Tighten element

Don't overtighten, a firm snug is enough
water heater element

Step 20: Attach wires to either screw

Tighten screws very tight against copper wire
Only copper wire, No insulation under the screw head

Step 21: Close drain & put covers on

Close drain <> put cover on <> turn on water
Do NOT turn power ON
Insulation must be reinstalled over thermostat
Do not turn on circuit breaker until tank is full of water

Drain valve drips???  Use garden hose cap if drain valve drips
Buy brass garden hose cap at amazon
Resources:
How to replace drain valve
Water heater drain cap

If drain will not stop dripping: add brass hose cap

Pick up plastic hose cap at local big-box-store, and replace later with brass hose cap
Brass hose cap at Amazon
2-pack brass hose cap Amazon
Water heater element
Wait to turn on breaker

Wait ...

Do NOT turn power On .....  until tank is full:

Wait for tank to fill

Water heater elements must be emersed in water or they will burn out instantly

Step 22: Wait for tank to fill

Open bathtub spout
After water heater fills with water, water will start to come out bathtub valve

Tub is running. Tank is full.

Bathtub hot water side is running with no air gaps <> turn off tub <> momentarily open TP valve on water heater to bleed last of air <> turn on circuit breaker

Step 23: Turn power ON

Turn on breaker <> put ear against water heater <> bubbly fizzing sound says it's working <> wait 10 minutes to see if water is getting hot.
4500 watt tank heats 21 gallons per hour

Step 24: What if tank is not working?

Read 'repaired water heater is not working'


Flush tool
tank rinser

Buy plastic tank rinser

Works with ball valve/ must replace drain valve
Resource:
How to replace water heater drain valve
Buy

Tank rinser at Amazon
Durable 3/8" x 10-3/4' poly tube with short 45 degree bent end/
Overall length 11-1/2"
Connect to water hose
water heater ball valve
Water heater drain valve

Replace Water heater drain valve with ball valve

Easier flush and clean out
Full open position lets you insert 1/4" copper pipe flushing tool
How to replace drain valve


Buy water heater drain valve and curved dip tube
Buy ball valve and curved dip tube
Also install curved dip tube to help prevent sediment from settling on bottom of tank
How to clean sediment out of water heater

Buy parts:
Di electric nipple at Amazon
Dielectric nipples at Amazon
3/4" ball valve at Amazon
Lead-free 3/4" ball valve at Amazon
3/4" NPT pipe thread ball valve
3/4" pipe to 3/4" garden hose
Use 6 wraps teflon tape on threads
Shop Amazon - Industrial and scientific

Additional links

Flooded water heater

Remove rusted/stuck element

Leaking water heater

How to install gas water heater
How to install electric heater

240 V Intermatic water heater timer
Trace chemicals
9-ways to save with water heater
Do it yourself
Do it yourself water heater

Troubleshoot gas water heater

Compare all water heater timers

Electricity from pole to breaker box
Cutler Hammer C25BUB230A
Contactors

Low water pressure

How to wire off-peak water heater
Compare box timers
Compare box timers

See basic water heater circuit

How to Install subpanel


Stacking

Dayton off-delay timer
Glass lined steel water heater
How to replace anode rod

How to de-lime tankless
How electric water heater works

Troubleshoot electric water heater
Troubleshoot Rheem tankless
Troubleshoot Bosch tankless

How to install tank-type gas water heater
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Technical information

Water heater efficiency

Electric water heaters operate at 99% efficiency
Gas water heaters operate at 69% efficiency
Tankless gas heaters operate at 80% efficiency
High-efficiency tank-type gas heaters at 96% efficiency

'Efficiency' is not same as 'energy saving' .
All costs are energy: Consider total cost of water heater: Cost of unit, cost of installation, projected repairs, whether repairs are do-it-yourself, if parts are generic and available locally, true life expectancy of unit,  monthly energy bill over life of unit, and disposal-replacement cost > read more
Other factor will weigh eventually including direct carbon emissions
released at each home from gas appliances.
All costs are energy: If there was a breakthrough water heater that suddenly lowered people's bills, and reduced overall energy consumption, people would be waving their monthly bill in the air and everybody would know.  There is no news. Choose lowest overall cost water heater to save energy.
Research pdf: water-softener/water-heater efficiency comparison
Read do-it-yourself: 9 ways to save with a water heater

Effect of hard-water WITH water-softener

Efficiency of gas and electric water heaters is unchanged over time when hard water is softened, however softened water corrodes anode rod and will reduce life of water heater unless anode rod inspected and replaced every 2 years. Once anode rod is 50-75% corroded, water heater tank begins to rust. This condition leads to leaking water heater which cannot be repaired. Rusted water heaters can rupture and cause massive damage as water runs until problem is discovered.
Read more & See Anode rod options

Effect of hard-water with NO water-softener:

> Efficiency of gas heater drops 6-8% after two years > cleaning tank of sediment build-up will not restore full efficiency > however, regular flushing to prevent sediment maintains efficiency
> Tankless gas heater will fail when pressure sensor clogs with sediment within 2-3 years depending on hardness of water > regular de-liming will not restore efficiency > softener and filter are required
> Efficiency of electric heater stays at 99% until sediment reaches bottom element > cleaning tank and replacing lower element restores full efficiency > regular flushing to prevent sediment build-up also maintains efficiency
Research pdf: water-softener/water-heater efficiency comparison

Water-softener reduces life of anode rod in gas and electric water heaters

Water heater manual says: "Artificially softened water is exceedingly corrosive because the process substitutes sodium ions for magnesium and calcium ions. The use of water softener may decrease life of water heater tank."
Six-year tanks come with 1 anode rod. Read manual.
Generally, tanks with longer warranties come with 2 anode rods.
Anode rod options
Gas and electric water heaters Support the economy:
Buy water heaters  from my associate links:

50 gallon Gas water heaters at Amazon
40 gallon gas water heaters at Amazon
50 gallon Electric water heaters at Amazon
40 gallon electric water heaters at Amazon
Hybrid / heat pump/ water heaters at Amazon

Resources:
How to install gas water heater
Troubleshoot gas water heater
Troubleshoot electric water heater
Intermatic control centers Control centers:
+ manuals and parts


All control centers and parts

Including Z-wave
box timers Compare box timers

Control with Z-wave
programmable timer Compare programmable timers

Control water heater with programmable wall timer
Countdown timers Compare countdown timers

Control water heater with countdown timer
Compare power packs

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