How does a tankless hot water heater work?
Tankless water heaters are a pretty “hot” thing going these days. You get hot water faster, it doesn’t waste water as it warms up, saves on energy bills, takes up less space in the house, etc. So, when it comes time to replace your water heater, will you go with an electric tankless water heater as opposed to the style of a water heater you have?
Tankless water heaters a ‘hot water on demand’ appliance, something that restaurants have had for years. There is no storage tank like the traditional water heaters. From the user end of the system, you turn the hot water faucet on and like magic, hot water comes out instantly!
When you turn on the hot water faucet, cold water still travels from the mainline of your house to the tankless hot water heater. There is an electric element or a gas burner inside the unit that heats the water instantly. Gone are the days of standing there with the cold water running until it got hot.
Tankless water heaters are more expensive than standard electric or gas water heaters. Here are the advantages that homeowners find that make it worthwhile:
- They use 30% to 50% less energy. This can save a typical household $100 annually, maybe more.
- By giving you instant hot water, no more storing 40-50 gallons of water in a tank which saves you money by not having to heat that tank full of water each time you need hot water.
- The tankless water heater is compact and takes less space in the house.
Can a homeowner install a tankless water heater?
If you’re a basic all-around handyman kind of homeowner, then yeah, you probably can. However, there are different sizes and styles when it comes to tankless water heaters. Do you know if you need electric, natural gas or propane? How big of a house are you supplying hot water for?
Because the typical tankless water heater requires more gas than the biggest residential furnaces, the local gas company will need to advise you what size of gas main you’re working with. Speaking of the gas company, the gas supply will need to be disconnected before you begin installing your tankless water heater.
Also, before you begin the installation, you need to install the specific vent for your tankless water heater and wire the electricity to it. If there isn’t electricity close to where you’re installing the unit, you must run electricity to it. (Even the gas model is going to electricity). Water heaters have always required venting, just like your attic should have ventilation, so this isn’t anything new. However, the fittings will differ from your current water heater vent.
Depending on the age of your house, the existing gas lines may need to be replaced to accommodate the increased demands of the tankless water heater unit. Sometimes, new water lines are needed, and the pressure relief valve discharge lines must be soldered.
Last, you need to make sure your tankless water heater installation is up to building codes for your area and confirm that your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover any damage that happens due to installation mistakes. You also must find where to dispose of your old water tank when you’re done.
These are just the things that we can think of off the top of our minds. There are many unforeseen things that can happen during the installation of a tankless water heater. By having the dealer where you purchase the unit install it, or hire a professional plumber with certification, insurance, and license. This way, any mistakes or problems, they will have to make good on it.
With just the first paragraph of this answer, whether a homeowner can install their own tankless water heater, your first question may be “What tankless water heater do I need?”. That is a question best answered by those with the experience and knowledge of tankless water heaters, but:
Tankless water heaters are rated by the highest temperature rise workable at a provided flow rate. Hence, to choose the right size tankless water heater, the flow rate and temperature rise must be determined for the application you’re using for, either a single bathroom or a whole house. It is better to oversize than undersize a tankless water heater.
Do tankless water heaters need a drain?
Every tankless water heater requires a drain pan to be installed if the unit itself is installed where the possibility of damage could take place, the same as a standard style water heater. While there will be less water leaking, a tankless water heater is leaking will cause water damage and water damage is water damage and can be costly.
Do tankless water heaters need to be flushed?
It is the recommendation of manufacturers and experienced plumbers that you should flush a tankless water heater every 12 months for the same reason they recommend it to flush the traditional style water heaters. Depending on the quality of the water where you live, there will always be a building up minerals, such as calcium inside the unit. When left unattended, it will shorten the lifespan of your tankless water heater. If you live in hard water areas, flush your unit every 6 months.
What is the downside of a tankless water heater?
Most homeowners that have switched to a tankless water heater will tell you that the disadvantages are far outweighed by the advantages. By knowing what possible disadvantages there are, though, you can learn to work around them.
- Tankless water heaters frequently do not supply ample enough hot water for simultaneous use like doing laundry while somebody is showering.
- To have a constant temperature with different flow rates, modulating temperature control must be added to the tankless water heater system. Otherwise, there will be fluctuation with the water temperature, especially if different parts of the house have different water pressures.
- Electric tankless water heaters pull a relatively high amount of electricity to meet the on-demand of hot water. This often requires older homes to have the wiring in the house upgraded.
- Tankless gas water heaters require outdoor venting either directly or with an exhaust flue.
- The pilot light of a gas-powered tankless water heater is wasting gas because it stays on even when not heating the water.
We have discussed the beauty and pros of the tankless water heater in this article. While there are many pros, there are cons too, like it still takes time for the hot water to get from the tankless unit to the tap. So, there is still a waste of water. One solution to this is a tankless water heater with a recirculation pump that will give you instant hot water at any sink or in the shower. This recirculating pump keeps the heated water in the tap and will periodically circulate the water back to the tankless water heater unit to reheat. This will prevent the water inside the pipe from getting cooled off, giving you instant hot water wherever you turn on the faucet. Want more information on tankless water heaters in Marietta, GA? Dial (770) 672-0095 today!