Four Common Myths About Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless gas water heater in a technical room.

Tankless water heaters have grown in popularity in recent years due to their efficient energy saving. They appeal to homeowners looking to save on energy bills, to conservationists, and to those searching for warmth and comfort in the home. Undoubtedly, tankless water heaters provide unlimited hot water in an assembly small enough to fit inside a suitcase. In addition, a tankless water heater will usually last between twenty and thirty years, about twice as long as a storage tank water heater.

Understandably, these positive aspects are often on the front of the mind when people make the decision to switch out their storage tank heater for a tankless one. However, this causes some consumers to have certain expectations for their new water heater that may or may not be realistic. here are four common myths about tankless water heaters debunked.

Myth #1: Switching to a tankless water heater is just a simple swap.

Switching to a tankless water heater is not as simple as unplugging the old and plugging in the new. Most original water heaters were not installed with a tankless counterpart in mind. For instance, the gas lines and meter in some houses may not be sufficient to handle the higher gas flow of the tankless heater.

Tankless water heaters vent differently than most typical natural draft water heaters, often requiring a different vent setup from the heater they are replacing. Also, although they do burn gas as fuel, they still need a power source in order to operate.

Tankless water heaters are frequently preferred over tank type heaters, and they generally perform as expected. Because of this, if a homeowner finds himself unsatisfied with the performance of his new water heater, it is usually because of one of the issues previously mentioned. Additionally, a unit may perform below standard if improperly installed,  in which case it may also pose a safety hazard.

Myth #2: I will get hot water faster with a tankless water heater.

In many people's minds, tankless water heaters have become synonymous with the idea of instant hot water. This, however, is not the case. If hot water took thirty seconds to reach the faucet coming from your old tank water heater, it will take the same amount of time to traverse the same distance of piping with the tankless heater. Unless the length of piping was reduced or the tankless water heater was installed nearer the faucet, the wait time will be the same. 

Some brands of tankless water heaters are designed to only kick on when they sense the flow of water. This might add a few seconds to the wait time for hot water. Regardless, the distance of piping from the water heater to the faucet is the determining factor for how long it will take for the water to flow out hot.

If the wait time is an issue, the solution would be to install a circulation system to the water heater, causing hot water to circulate through the pipes continually so that hot water would be readily available at the faucet. As it happens, some brands of tankless heaters are designed such that a system could be added without having to restructure the piping.

Myth #3: Tankless is tankless. Aren't they all the same?

As tankless water heaters have been developed and improved, changes have been made to some models to make them more efficient, longer lasting, and easier to install. Today, there are more powerful models that are more cost effective than they were a few years ago. On the other hand, there are some brands that have been less improved and are not proven to be as reliable or easily maintained. Some models and brands are better suited for some applications than others.

Regardless of the quality of the unit you choose, if the installation is not done properly, the unit will always perform poorly. The surest way to find out which brand is best suited to your needs is to ask a trustworthy plumbing/heating/HVAC company that is known for doing dependable work, like PlumbV. We will match your desire for good service and great quality products.

Myth #4: Switching to a tankless water heater does not require a permit or inspection.

Again, the quality of the installation determines the quality of the heater's performance and lifespan. In order to have all your bases covered, be sure to research beforehand to find out what permits are required in your specific area. Not all jurisdictions have the same requirements.

Certain steps need to be taken to ensure a safe installation when switching from a tank that may use up to 40,000 BTU to one that uses over 200,000 BTU of gas. Tankless water heaters produce exhaust differently than storage tank heaters and must be properly vented in a very different way. For your health and the safety of your home, it is best to adhere to the guidelines set by the local authorities regarding permits and inspections.

Tankless may be an improvement from your current water heating system, however, make sure you are aware of the truths and myths surrounding the appliance before you make your decision. With a little help from us here at PlumbV, you can make an informed decision and enjoy a new hot water heater that meets both your needs and expectations. Contact us today!

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