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Is a Tankless Water Heater right for me?
Well let's look at the benefits and the drawbacks and then you can decide for yourself. These drawbacks assume that the new Tankless Water Heater is installed and sized correctly. If not there are a handful of additional drawbacks that can arise. Ok so let's start with the drawbacks since the number one deciding factor for most people is a drawback. Can you guess what it is? If you guessed money you are spot on. The cost for replacing a standard tank style Water Heater with a Tankless On Demand type of Water Heater is on average 3 to 4 times higher. The reasons for the higher cost are that the Tankless itself will be more costly, plus there will be water and gas piping and vent piping changes required to install the new style Water Heater. A permit and inspection by the local Department of Building and Safety is also required for this upgrade. If there is not an adequate electrical outlet available that will also need to be installed. NOTE: The gas piping size and ability to flow the extra gas required for these types of appliances is a safety issue and is extremely important. Make sure your Plumber does this right! While the Tankless On Demand style Water Heaters use less gas than a conventional Water Heater the gas savings may still never equal the extra installation costs.
The second drawback is that if there is a power outage you loose hot water within seconds as opposed to a conventional Water Heater that does not need electricity to operate. The next drawback is reliability and repairability. A conventional Water Heater is a very reliable and simple Heater that can be repaired usually quickly and inexpensively by most any Plumbing Contractor. On the other hand a Tankless is usually controlled by a circuit board and computer chip and several sensors and safety devices that send info back to the circuit board. Most Plumbers are at a loss when it comes to troubleshooting these systems which can lead to delays, misdiagnosis, and wrong parts being ordered and replaced. The good news is that a Plumbing Company that is also licensed to do Heating repair will be a much better choice to repair this type of unit due to the fact that all the new Forced Air Heaters are also controlled by computer boards and sensors. So the Tankless unit will be very familiar to the Heating serviceman and much more likely to be diagnosed and repaired quickly and properly the first time. (Oh by the way we are licensed in Plumbing and Heating). It is not uncommon to have no Hot Water while waiting for parts because there are many manufactures of these units and many unique parts that are not inventoried locally.
The next drawback is freeze protection of the unit. Obviously that is a major concern in the mountains but not down the hill. A standard Water Heater almost never has any freeze problems close to it because it keeps lighting a huge fire under the tank every so often to keep the water hot and that keeps the area around the Water Heater warm. A Tankless only lights the fire when you are using hot water and will be cold within an hour after use usually. Most brands do now have optional freeze protection but it works off the electronic circuit board and will not work in a power outage and may not work if there is a circuit board or freeze protection component failure. The result if the temperatures get cold enough is going to be catastrophic failure and total replacement necessary. Most any freeze damage to a Tankless will be unrepairable. Understand I'm not saying these units can't be used in cold climates, to freeze one you need freezing temps and a failure of the freeze protection or a power outage at the same time. If you already have a back up generator this will reduce the chance of such a failure as well as the drawback mentioned earlier of loosing hot water in a power outage.
Ok so I guess I'm not a great salesman am I? Well the object for us is always to give information to the consumer so you can make the best decision for you. We are not here to tell you the good so that you buy it or even tell you the good first so you buy. Our thought is that if we tell you all the facts you will buy from us when you need something and will continue to do so in the years to come, and if you're happy it will benefit us more than if we cleverly present you with some great sales pitch. Alright so let's get into the benefits.
A Tankless Water Heater will supply you with an endless supply of hot water (assuming proper sizing and installation). No running out of hot water in the shower because the person before you took to long of a shower or your wife ran the laundry or dishwasher. This is especially nice if you have family over and kids get wet in the snow or things like that common to vacation use homes. The second benefit is that you will use less natural gas than a standard Water Heater because you're not keeping 40 or 50 gallons hot and ready to use 24 hours a day 365 days a year. This is especially helpful to vacation homeowners or those who travel and are away a lot. The next benefit is that the water quality is better in a Tankless because it doesn't use a rusting tank which will accumulate rust and debris and scale inside the storage tank. Most Tankless systems are made from stainless steel or copper and the water is not stored in a tank so you don't get an accumulation problem. The next benefit is that the Tankless system usually takes up less space, maybe as much as 70% less than a standard Water Heater. And Last but not least, a Tankless Water Heater since it doesn't rust will normally last twice as long as a standard Water Heater.
So that should give you a pretty thorough idea of what to consider, and if you feel that a Tankless is a good choice for you give us a call and we'll be happy to come install one for you.
Thrifty Plumbing and Heating
P.O. Box 247
Lake Arrowhead, Ca. 92352
(909) 867-7015
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