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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
Thrifty Plumbing and Heating
P.O. Box 247
Lake Arrowhead, Ca. 92352
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