An 80-gallon water heater is used, like water heaters of other capacities, to provide hot water to a building with indoor plumbing that has differentiated pipes for hot and cold water. The water heater consists of a large tank over a heating unit that is either gas or electric.
Water heaters typically have a lifespan from eight to 12 years; after this time, the tank and heating element accrue significant deposits of sediment that impede operation. Additionally, the heating element may simply stop operating. At the point, a water heater can no longer be repaired, so it is either repurposed or recycled. Do-it-yourself websites suggest that a large water heater, if it still effectively holds water, is usefully reused as a general water storage tank in an outbuilding. Otherwise, the central metal tank is convertible into a wood-burning stove.
Generally, water heaters are categorized by the type of fuel used by the heating element and the size of the storage tank. An 80-gallon capacity represents a class of large-tank water heaters that are best suited for dwellings that have five or more people. Such a sizable tank is typically paired with an electric heating element, which is more energy-intensive but heats water faster. Gas heaters, which use natural or propane burners, often have smaller tank capacities and slower replenishment. The advantage is that gas-operated water heaters are cheaper to operate.