How To Find the Best Water Heater Contractors in San Francisco CA
Boiler, steam fitting, or hot-water heater contractors install, service, and repair boilers, hot-water heaters, steam fitting and piping, fuel oil tanks, fuel oil lines and all other equipment associated with these, including solar water heaters and the equipment associated with them. Research by The Prime Buyer's Report lists the best water heater contractors in San Francisco and the issues related to hiring them.
Updated January 16, 2018
San Francisco, CA 94131
San Francisco, CA 94107
San Francisco, CA 94103
San Francisco, CA 94102
San Francisco, CA 94147
San Francisco, CA 94103
How To Find the Best Water Heater Contractors in San Francisco CA
Hot water heater contractors and boiler contractors in San Francisco are required to be licensed by the state for your protection, such as the C-4 license specifically for water heater, steam fitting, and boiler contractors. If the boiler or water heater contractors have employees, they are legally required to have workers' compensation insurance to protect you the customer from being sued if an injury occurs during work performed at your property. Water heater contractors are not required by law to have general liability insurance; however, all boiler and water heater contractors bearing The Prime Buyer's Report—TOP 10 designation have general liability insurance coverage to reimburse you in the event of any damages, in addition to passing all other requirements for certification as Prime Buyer's Report—TOP 10 such as our research phone calls to their previous customers, hiring only documented workers, verified license and workers' comp insurance, clean complaint record, and more.
What's the Difference Between Hot Water Heaters and Boilers?
Hot water heaters supply hot water to fixtures like sinks and showers. Boilers supply hot water used to heat the home, like steam radiators, hot water baseboard heating, radiant floor heating, and swimming pools, etc. Boilers are usually larger and more complex than hot water heaters and boilers heat water to higher temperatures.
The line between hot water heaters and boilers can get blurred since sometimes boilers are used in place of a water heater. And although hot water heaters traditionally use a storage tank where boilers don't, this too is a fuzzy distinction since some boilers do have storage and there are tankless water heaters. Some units known as combination boilers or combi boilers are designed to supply hot water for both space heating and for fixtures, performing the function of both boiler and hot water heater in one unit.
Very high recovery water heaters can approach the hot water capacity of a boiler but have so many flues inside that in complexity they begin to resemble boilers. Boilers cost more than hot water heaters, may last longer, but require more maintenance as they are more complex.
Hot Water Heater Repair Services
A traditional type storage tank hot water heater with a corroded tank that is leaking is better off being replaced with a new water heater. But some problems can be repaired cheaply compared to the cost of a new water heater. These include a water heater leak from a pressure relief valve or a drain.
Buying New Water Heaters: Standard or Tankless or Solar Water Heaters
If buying a new water heater of the standard tank storage kind, those that will perform better but cost a little more will be ones built with thicker internal insulation, larger heating elements, larger metal anodes to slow down corrosion of the tank, and longer warranties. When choosing between natural gas water heaters and electric water heaters know that electric may be cheaper to purchase but gas less expensive to operate and quicker to heat water.
One factor to consider to buy a new hot water heater of the traditional tank type is how much hot water it holds. But also look to find out the FHR (First Hour Rating) and the GPM (Gallons Per Minute) rating which indicates how quickly it heats water, which can be as important to you or more, than how much it stores.
STANDARD WATER HEATERS
Hot water heaters that use a storage tank are the most common type of water heater. It's usually a vertical, cylindrical tank which stores water that's kept continuously hot and ready for use. Compared to tankless water heaters they use power at a slower rate but use it more often since it keeps the stored water constantly hot even when not in use. If the entire tank of stored hot water is used up, it can be some time before hot water is available again, unlike on-demand water heaters with no storage tank.
Because storage hot water heaters use a tank, they are subject to water heater leaking. Most common are metal tanks which are enamel-lined inside to prevent corrosion of the tank since chlorinated hot water is corrosive. The lining has tiny defects however and so a sacrificial anode rod may be used, which if changed out periodically can extend the life of the storage tank but this maintenance is rarely done and more commonly the tank is allowed to corrode over time until leaking and then replaced with a new water heater. Because a tank with enamel lining will inevitably develop leaks, regulatory codes often require a shallow pan to collect leaks, which may be connected to a drain. If this is not possible, then an alternative is a water alarm on the floor near the hot water heater, possibly connected to an automatic water shutoff valve.
Brands of standard hot water heaters in San Francisco include General Electric, Kenmore, Rheem, Whirlpool, Ruud
TANKLESS WATER HEATERS
Tankless water heaters (sometimes called On Demand Water Heaters or Instantaneous Water Heaters) heat water only when it's needed, unlike standard water heaters which have a storage tank to keep hot water at the ready and so use more energy keeping the stored water hot 24 hours a day. While tankless water heaters use less electricty or gas, their initial purchase price can be expensive and energy savings may not be recouped for many years. If recovering the purchase price sooner is important to you, then be sure to ask a water heater contractor with provable expertise in tankless water heaters how many years it will take for the energy savings to balance out the increased purchase price.
Tankless water heaters heat the water only when it's used. When the hot water is turned on, cold water travels through the unit and a heating element (electric or gas depending on the type of tankless water heater) instantly heats the water. Tankless water heaters will usually provide hot water at a rate of 2-5 gallons per minute. Some tankless water heaters cannot supply hot water fast enough for multiple uses at the same time in a large house. For instance, running a hot shower and a dishwasher at the same time could max out the capabilities of a tankless water heater. A possible solution is to install multiple tankless water heaters connected in a parallel for the whole house, or a separate tankless water heater for each appliance that uses a lot of hot water.
Tankless water heaters take up less space than standard water heaters, and they have a longer history of common use in space-conscious Europe than they do in the U.S. So not all local water heater contractors in San Francisco are experts in tankless water heater installation, maintenance and repair. Before buying a tankless water heater or hiring for repair, ask how many tankless water heater installations or repairs they've done, over how many years, and what sizes, brands, and type (gas or electric).
If energy efficiency and lower utility bills are your goal, then ask the water heater contractor in San Francisco about energy efficient standard water heaters. These water heaters have a storage tank in the traditional way, but also provide cost savings through lower energy use. Because these can cost much less than tankless water heaters, they may pay for themselves in energy efficiency sooner than a tankless water heater.
Brand of tankless water heaters in San Francisco include Eemax, Steibel Eltron, Rinnai, Takagi, Chronomite, Bradford White, Rheem, Bosch, GE, Ruud
SOLAR HOT WATER HEATERS
Solar water heaters can save money on energy bills versus gas or electric but the exact savings will depend on the system and how much sun your location gets throughout the year. Solar water heater installers should be able to demonstrate expected savings based on manufacturer studies or studies of their past customers. However, verify that the proven savings are from people in the same climate as you.
Solar hot water systems are to generate hot water only, and not to generate electricity for other appliances. Solar water heating systems include storage tanks and collectors. Most solar water heaters require a well-insulated storage tank. In two-tank systems, the solar water heater preheats water before it enters a conventional water heater. In one-tank systems, the back-up heater is combined with the solar storage in one tank.
There are two types of solar water heaters: ACTIVE, which have circulating pumps and controls, and less-expensive PASSIVE, which don't.
Types of ACTIVE Solar Water Heaters
Direct Circulation Systems: Pumps circulate household water through the collectors and into the home. They work well in climates where it rarely freezes.
Indirect Circulation Systems: Pumps circulate a non-freezing, heat-transfer fluid through the collectors and a heat exchanger. This heats the water that then flows into the home. They are popular in climates prone to freezing temperatures.
Types of PASSIVE Solar Water Heaters
Passive solar water heaters are typically less expensive than active systems, but they're usually not as efficient. However, passive systems can be more reliable and may last longer. There are two types.
Integral collector-storage passive systems: These work best in areas where temperatures rarely fall below freezing. They also work well in households with significant daytime and evening hot-water needs.
Thermosyphon systems: Water flows through the system when warm water rises as cooler water sinks. The collector must be installed below the storage tank so that warm water will rise into the tank. These systems are reliable, but solar water heater contractors must pay careful attention to the roof design because of the heavy storage tank. They are usually more expensive than integral collector-storage passive systems.
Brands of solar water heaters in San Francisco include Ruud, Rheem, Bosch, Viessmann, Velux, Trendsetter, Thermomax, TCT, Sunward, Sunearth, Stiebel Eltron, Solvelox, Solene, Solahart, Kingspan Thermomax, HTP, Heliodyne, Fafco, Ezinc, EnerWorks, EagleSun, Cirrex, Caleffi, ACR
Boiler Repair in San Francisco CA
There are different types of boilers so when hiring for boiler repair in San Francisco CA, make sure the boiler repair company can prove lots of experience with exactly your kind of boiler. The same goes for a company you choose to buy a boiler from and to install a boiler.
Boilers come in different forms including hydronic boilers, fire tube boilers, water tube boilers, packaged boilers, fluidized bed combustion boilers, atmospheric fluidized combustion boilers, pressurized fluidized bed combustion boilers, circulating fluidized bed combustion boilers, stoker fired boilers, pulverized fuel boilers, waste heat boilers and thermic fluid boilers.
Hydronic boilers: Most commonly used for central heating systems of buildings and which uses hot water rather than forced hot air. Circulates hot water through the home to hydronic baseboard heaters or radiators. Is sometimes also configured to perform as a home's hot water heater at the same time.
Fire tube boilers: Water is heated and turned into steam by coming into contact with the fire tube in which air or other gases have been heated by a flame. Fire tube boilers are used for steam pressures up to 40lb/in2 and rates of 26,000 lb/hour
Water tube boilers: Boiler feed water is heated in tubes that come directly into contact with the flame and fed into the boiler drum and converted to steam inside the drum. Water tube boilers are used when steam pressure requirements and demand are higher than fire tube boilers with rates as high as 132 tons/hour of steam
Packaged boilers: Boilers that come manufactured as a complete package and needing only a water supply and fuel to be operational. Package boilers are usually fire tube boilers. Packaged boilers are rated based on the number of passes the hot gases make through the boiler and there can be one to three sets of fire tubes. A three pass unit with two sets of fire tubes is the most common type.
FBC Boilers (Fluidized Bed Combustion): Makes a bed of solid particles behave like a boiling fluid by suspending them in the air with high velocity air, heating it to the ignition temperature of coal and injecting coal into it, through which pass steam generation tubes. FBC boilers are more tolerant of low quality fuel like rice husks, agricultural waste, and coal and have a higher combustion efficiency that emits less pollution.
AFBC Boilers (Atmospheric Fluidized Bed Combustion): A fluidized bed combustor is added to a conventional shell boiler such as a conventional water tube boiler.
PFBC Boilers (Pressurized Bed Combustion): The combustion efficiency and sulphur dioxide absorption of a fluidized bed is improved the use of a compressor to supply forced draft air into the combustion vessel which is pressurized.
CFBC Boilers (Atmospheric Circulating Fluidized Combustion): The solid particles of the fluidized bed are circulated by air flow including through a convection section where steam generation takes place, rather than with stream generation tubes immersed in the bed. CFBC boilers are usually more economical than AFBC boilers for industrial applications requiring more than 75 tons/hr of steam.
Stoker Fired Boilers: Typed by the method of feeding fuel to the furnace and type of grate. Main types are spreader stoker, and traveling gate stoker.
Spreader Stoker Boiler : Spreader stoker fired boilers use suspension burning and grate burning where coal particles burn above the burning bed while larger particles burn on the grate directly.
Traveling Gate Stoker Boiler: Coal is fed in on a moving steel grade. Also called a chain gate stoker boiler.
Pulverized Fuel Boilers: Use pulverized coal as fuel.
Waste Heat Boilers: Hot waste gas (heated air) as a byproduct of another machine (like exhaust from diesel engines or gas turbines) is fed into the boiler past the water tubes, heating it to steam. If the waste gas air is not hot enough itself, an auxiliary fuel burner is used to increase the temperature of the waste gas being used.
Thermic Fluid Heater Boilers: Use coal or other fuel to heat tubes filled with petroleum based fluids which circulate to transfer their heat to water, turning it to steam, then back again to be heated.
Some Water Heater & Boiler Contractors in San Francisco Are A Better Value Than Others
The Prime Buyer's Report lists these contractors for hot water heaters or boilers in San Francisco CA: De Jager & Reilly San Francisco CA, Cornely Company San Francisco CA, Ace Boiler & Welding Works San Francisco CA, Excalibur Water Heaters San Francisco CA, CR Reichel Engineering Co Inc San Francisco CA, Bay Area Mechanical Engineering Inc San Francisco CA, Albert Nahman Plumbing & Heating Berkeley CA. Other companies doing boilers or water heaters in San Francisco CA that might still be in business include: .
Questions To Ask Contractors for Boilers or Hot Water Heaters in San Francisco CA
When choosing which contractor for boilers or hot water heaters to hire, ask the following questions about their experience, range of services, credentials, methods and materials:
• How long have they been installing boilers or hot water heaters in San Francisco CA and how many jobs have they completed there?
• Can they give you customer names and numbers you can call as references? (All companies for boilers or hot water heaters in San Francisco CA bearing the Prime Buyer's Report-TOP 10 symbol have already had customer references called by our research staff so you don't have to.)
• Do they have experience with the specific type of boiler or hot water heater relevant to you, i.e. standard hot water heater versus tankless hot water heater or solar water heater, hyrdronic boiler versus water tube boiler versus fire tube boiler, etc.?
• How long should it take to complete the job once they start?
• Will they be able to complete the work in a single visit?
• Can they prove that all their workers sent to your property are legally allowed to work in the U.S.? (All contractors for boilers or hot water heaters in San Francisco CA bearing The Prime Buyer's Report-TOP 10 symbol have already signed an agreement to only hire documented workers.)
• Will they show you proof of workers' compensation and general liability insurance for your protection? (All contractors for boilers or hot water heaters in San Francisco CA bearing the Prime Buyer's Report-TOP 10 symbol have already had proof of insurance verified by our research staff so you don't have to.)
• Do they charge for estimates?
• What type of warranty do they provide? What services does it cover? (Examples include annual cleaning of your tankless hot water heater).
• Does the owner do the work or do they send employees to do it?
• Will they provide a written contract?
• Do they charge by the job (flat rate) or by the hour (time & materials)?
• Is the technician sent to you by the company paid a commission, thus increasing his pay with an increase in the cost of your job?
Once you've got answers to these questions, you're ready to review their bid. Price should rarely be the determining factor since cheap boilers or hot water heaters in San Francisco CA usually aren't the best ones and it can cost you more to repair or replace faulty equipment or work or inadequate repair than if you chose the best hot water heater or boiler contractor to begin with.
When you've chosen the best contractor for boilers or hot water heaters in San Francisco CA for your specific needs and priorities, make sure they are licensed by the state since that's required by law. (All contractors for boilers or hot water heaters in San Francisco CA bearing The Prime Buyer's Report TOP 10 symbol have already had their state license verified by our research staff so you don't have to.)
Resources About Boilers, Hot Water Heaters in San Francisco CA
The following is a list of trade associations and publications relevant to boilers & water heaters.
Regulatory Bodies & Trade Associations for Hot Water Heaters & Boilers in San Francisco CA
CSLB Contractors State License Board
DCA California Department of Consumer Affairs
ABMA (American Boiler Manufacturers Association)
CIBO (Council of Industrial Boiler Owners)
AABA (American Association of Boiler Assessment)
Publications Relevant to Boilers & Hot Water Heaters in San Francisco
American Boiler Manufacturers Association Magazine
The Prime Buyer's Report provides information for the TOP 10 Hot Water Heater Contractors in San Francisco within the following zip codes:
94120, 94157, 94170, 94119, 94147, 94169, 94101, 94146, 94168, 94158, 94142, 94167, 94141, 94166, 94140, 94165, 94126, 94164, 94188, 94125, 94159, 94172, 94107, 94116, 94130, 94105, 94115, 94127, 94104, 94114, 94124, 94112, 94123, 94111, 94122, 94134, 94110, 94121, 94133, 94109, 94118, 94132, 94108, 94117, 94131, 94103, 94102 and 94129
The Prime Buyer's Report provides information for the TOP 10 Contractors for Boilers & Hot Water Heaters in San Francisco within the following cities:
Presidio, San Francisco, Bernal Heights, Cow Hollow, Diamond Heights, Duboce Triangle, Eureka Valley, Fisherman's Wharf, Haight-Ashbury, Hayes Valley, Inner Sunset, Japantown, Laurel Heights, Marina District, Mission District, Nob Hill, Noe Valley, North Beach, Pacific Heights, The Presidio, Rincon Hill, Russian Hill, Sea Cliff, Sunset District, Telegraph Hill, Treasure Island, Twin Peaks, Western Addition, Outer Sunset and Union Square CA
Common Brands of Water Heaters in San Francisco CA
The most commong brands of water heaters in San Francisco CA include Rinnai tankless hot water heaters, Bradford water heater, Reliance water heaters, A. O. Smith water heaters, State water heaters, GSW Water heaters, Bosch tankless water heaters, Titan tankless water heaters, Rheem water heaters, Rheem Ruud tankless water heaters