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Gas Water Heater Runs Constantly

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Next up, we have Jeff from Tennessee who has a question about a gas water heater.

    Jeff, how can we help you?

    JEFF: Well, I’ve got a gas water heater, Leslie, and it goes – you know, cycles on and off all day long, 24 hours a day. We only use the water heater approximately one hour a day – it’s just my wife and I – and I just feel it’s an absolutely waste to have it cycling all the time. And I wanted to know is there a device on the market for a gas water heater that would allow you to control that so that maybe you could even set it so it would only come on a half-hour before you needed it.

    TOM: Yeah, like a timer for a gas water heater. Unfortunately, there is none that I’m aware of, Jeff. What you might want to think about doing is putting some additional insulation around the outside of that. Because basically, the way this works is you set the temperature on the water, on the thermostat; the gas comes on, it heats the water to that temperature, then the gas goes off until the water cools. And if it’s sitting there all day long, it’s going to cool and the burner comes back on and you have that cycling effect. If you put some insulation on it, some additional insulation, that’s going to slow that down.

    But here’s a very, very important thing to consider when you’re putting the insulation on: don’t ever cover the burner compartment. That’s the front part where you have access to the burner on a gas water heater. If you cover that, it could be dangerous. And secondly, don’t cover the top of the water heater near the vent pipe. Keep it up below the top edge of the water heater so you don’t block the vent pipe in any way, shape, or form.

    Now if you had an electric water heater, you could put it on a timer. And you’re right, most people only use their water heater about a third of the day. They use it in the morning and they use it in the evening and all the other times it just sits there and cycles and that can cost you some money. With a gas water heater, though, the best thing you can do is simply to insulate it and go from there. OK, Jeff?

    JEFF: So just wrap it all the way around the outside on the sides.

    TOM: Right, and don’t cover the burner compartment and don’t cover the vent pipe on top.

    JEFF: Thank you so much. I think you probably saved my life. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: Alright, Jeff. Well at least we saved you some money. But thanks for the compliment. Thanks for calling 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

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