Going tankless: Thoughts on tankless water heaters

Happy 2019! First off, thanks for sticking with me into 2019! While I have been focused more on my novel WIP (Work-In-Progress) and the last volume of my eStory trilogy (see ymnelson.com for that), I’m still doing home improvements, DIY projects, crafting, and generally breaking stuff up. To get all the juicy posts about my Weekend DIY Girl antics, subscribe if you haven’t, or stay subscribed if you have!  —> (hopefully, I have some notification button over here. 🙂 )

Now, about the water heater…

This is not a DIY project. In fact, stay away from this unless you are a professional plumber and electrician (yes, you will need to be both), and if you have a gas water heater, doubly stay away from it. In most areas, you have to have a special certification to connect and disconnect gas lines. In my city, you have to have permits and inspections for this installation, so I did not do this myself, and you shouldn’t either, weekend DIY-ers.

I wanted to veer away from my usual  just to talk about my fairly recent experience with replacing my regular tank water heater with a tankless one. I would not say I got talked into going tankless, but the benefits combined with some serious efforts to pay down debt,  swayed me to going tankless when my water heater started leaking.  A tankless water heater is almost 2x the price of a regular one. So, purchasing one in an emergency without some emergency savings or available credit is probably not something an average homeowner can do.

What a tankless water heater can do (Benefits I’ve found)

When the system calls for hot water, A tankless water heater will send heated water through the system and will continually do so as long as you have your hot water faucet on. This eliminates the “shower gets cold”  issue you have with tank systems. This means  that you’ll never run out of hot water, which is good for those with full households, or people who take long showers. Everyone gets a hot shower!

I’ve also noticed a slight drop in my gas bill and my electric bill. Now while this is off-set by the fact the tankless heater is more expensive, tankless heaters also last longer. So, it will pay for itself and then some over the expected life of the heater.  Also, it may have a utilities rebate attached because of the energy savings it provides. (Consult individual utility companies for your situation. Not available in all states, counties or cities.)

What a tankless water heater can’t do (Know before you buy)

Tankless water heaters do not immediately give you hot water. What I have experienced most often is after using hot water in the shower, I turn on the sink and may still get some hot water, then it goes cold before going hot again.  The initial hot water is water left over in the plumbing system after I turned the last faucet off, but when it gets cold, that’s the new water coming through when I turn the next faucet on.

If your salespeople and installers are good, they should tell you this up front before purchase. There is a recirculation pump/part that can be added to the system, which keeps the hot water in the system hot the moment you turn on the faucet (it’s kind of the same concept as what a hot water tank does:  but just done through your plumbing system), and you can have the best of both worlds: hot water fast. UPDATE: some tankless water heaters are  now being made with the recirculation pump as part of the unit. Make sure to ask if that is a concern of yours.

Tankless water heaters have to have an annual descaling. Unlike tank systems, which we often neglect, in order for tankless heaters to run smoothly, they need to have annual maintenance. This is something that can be done yourself. Here’s a YouTube video showing how to prepare a solution to descale your tankless water heater. I cannot verify  the technique’s effectiveness, as I have not had my water heater long enough to need maintenance, but Matt Risinger is well known in the building industry as a trusted information source.

Overall, I like the tankless water heater. I get hot water when I need it, and with the new unit, I don’t have to wonder, is this the day that the hot water’s going to go out? Plus, I have a cool little table/stool that the water tank was sitting on that I can now upscale into something else. Lookout, Weekenders!

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