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  • Writer's pictureJustin Leach

Tankless Water Heaters -- I'm Having Second Thoughts

Previously I have been less than kind to tankless water heaters. In the past, I've been sour on them due to high cost of install, regular maintenance, and potentially restricted water volume. While the installation cost is still higher, and there is mandatory maintenance, I'm less concerned about a lack of water volume now--which was probably my biggest hang up before.

In truth, we are having hot water issues in our own home these days, and I've been searching for a solution; it seems the inevitable conclusion is a tankless water heater. We now have 2 adults and 4 children in our humble abode, which roughly equates to 4 shower and 1 bath a day... plus the dishwasher, laundry, etc. We currently have a 40 gallon electric unit in our house, and with a whopping regeneration rate of 24 gallons per hour, it's just not meeting the demand. When you start planning your schedule around hot water availability, it might be time for a change, right?

Tankless water heaters were always a great system for our southern neighbors with naturally warmer ground water. While we in Wisconsin might pull up well water at 50 degrees, someone in FL practically gets room temp water when the spigot is all the way on "cold". Tankless water heaters have to heat water very rapidly to a certain set point. The unit will always hit the set point because a valve prevents water from leaving the unit before the water is the properly set temperature. Historically, this meant that if really cold water was going into the unit, it would have to keep the water inside it for longer and thus deliver lower volumes of hot water. However, the new tankless systems with burners in excess of 200,000 BTU, have now seemingly put this issue to bed. The tankless water heaters that we now install can easily produce 5 gallons per minute, which can easily feed a couple showers plus an appliance simultaneously. And thus, this is why it is now looking increasingly appealing for our family situation.

So with the water volume worries down the drain, the other issues must be addressed. There is no way around the increased cost of a Tankless water heater install. In almost every case, you must repipe, or totally add, new gas line, exhaust and intake lines, and plumbing connections. The tankless units typically sit on the wall, so the plumbing connections need to be redirected. Generally the tankless water heater will need dedicated intake and exhaust piping, which frequently must be drilled through the side of the home. And lastly, even if you had a gas water heater before it probably only used about 36,000 BTU of gas at any given time--a far cry from the 200,000 BTU demand of the new Tankless units. It all adds up.

The maintenance on the other hand, I've been starting to accept more and more. It is accurate that a tankless water heater requires more maintenance. However, most other water heaters do need the maintenance, they just have a higher tolerance for garbage in their water. I just replaced a heating element in a 3 year old electric water heater because it was buried in scale at the bottom of the thank--neither the electric unit or the tankless unit would survive that... they really just need a water softener to prevent future damage. That said, I am also warming up to the idea of a homeowner doing their own maintenance on their unit. I think when I install a tankless water heater in my house in the upcoming months; I plan to make detailed recordings of the installation process and a maintenance walk through, so that customers can potentially work on their own appliance.

In summary, I guess I'm coming around to the idea of Tankless Water Heater, and plan to install one in my own home sooner than later. Yes they are expensive to install, and yes they do carry an added maintenance load, but I believe I have made my peace with these facts. If you have any questions about how Tankless Water Heaters work, or potentially getting one installed, feel free to give me a call.

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1 Comment

Oct 29, 2022

Tankless water heaters need a lot of gas to the heater when it is running. If the heater cannot get the necessary flow of gas, the onboard computer will generate a fault and the heater will not function correctly. Contact HVAC repair diamond bar experts for more quiries.


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