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Everything to Know About Tankless Water Heater

water heater
Tankless Water Heater

Tankless Water Heater

You are undoubtedly conversant with a tank-type water heater, which works fine but comes with some efficiency shortcomings. Despite how thoroughly you insulate the tank, the hot water still cools down over time. Because of this, continued heating is necessary to maintain the desired temperature, which translates to more energy consumption and expenses.

If you are frustrated with the above challenges, a tankless water heater may be your best bet for convenient and cost-effective water heating. The following is virtually everything you need to know about these compact, ultra-efficient units.

Table of Contents

  • What is a Tankless Water Heater?
  • Tankless Water Heater Fuel Options
    • » Gas-Powered Tankless Water Heater
    • » Electric Tankless Water Heaters
  • How Does a Tankless Water Heater Work?
  • Tankless Water Heater Cost
  • Tankless Water Heater Installation
  • Tankless Water Heater Maintenance
  • How Long Do Tankless Water Heaters Last
  • Where Can I Buy One
  • What are the Benefits of Tankless Water Heaters?
  • What Are the Downsides of a Tankless Water Heater?
  • New Tankless Water Heater Technology
  • What Size of Tankless Water Heater Do I Need?
  • Tankless Water Heater FAQs

What is a Tankless Water Heater?

Also known as an on-demand/instantaneous water heater, a tankless water heater is designed to overcome a typical tank water heater’s challenges by heating water on demand. When you turn on the hot water valve, the cold water travels through the heater where it is heated.

There exist two versions of on-demand water heaters: whole-home heater or point-of-use heater.

A whole-home water heater supplies all water outlets in a home. Substantially smaller than a tank-style heater, this version requires less plumbing and electrical/gas connections, which equates to lower installation costs.

Point of use (POS water heaters are installed near showerheads, faucets, and other appliances. They are much smaller than the centralized models, which allows them to fit in tiny spaces.

Gallegos Plumbing is the renowned name for water heater repair and installation services in Ventura County with years of experience in helping customers with all their tankless needs! Call (805) 243-2622 to schedule an appointment with our service technicians for an affordable water heater and other plumbing services.

Tankless Water Heater Fuel Options

» Gas-Powered Tankless Water Heater

Natural gas or propane tankless water heaters are commonly used as whole-home heaters. They are more powerful than their electric counterparts and have higher flow rates. This enables the equipment to supply hot water to several faucets or appliances simultaneously.

Before purchasing a tankless gas-fired heater, you need to consider your current gas supply’s capability to power the unit and how you will expel the heater’s exhaust. If you have an undersized gas supply, you may need larger-diameter gas pipes to deliver more fuel or request your gas provider to increase the supply pressure to your home.

Tankless gas heaters require ventilation, further increasing the installation costs. But if you intend to re-use the venting from your old typical water heater to save money, you may be in for a surprise. This is because these units require larger metal flues that can accommodate higher temperatures. Venting a tankless gas heater is subject to specific codes, which is why we recommend professional installation.

» Electric Tankless Water Heaters

An electric on-demand water heater uses a powerful heating element that heats water instantaneously as it passes through the unit. The principal concern with these units is their more extensive power requirements, which may demand an upgrade of your home’s electrical panel and wire sizes. That is why they are typically preferred for point-of-use applications.

Virtually all electrical on-demand water heaters require a breaker or two and a thicker-gauge wire. If your home is underpowered, you will need to decide between upgrading your existing electrical panel or installing a second service.

Electric instantaneous water heaters do not require ventilation, thus saving time, money, and space.

How Does a Tankless Water Heater Work?

When you turn on the hot water tap, the heater’s flow sensor detects the incoming water and sends a signal to the control panel to initiate the Heating process.

In gas-powered heaters, the control panel activates the fan, which draws in air from outside, opens the gas valve to let in the gas, and ignites the burner. The stainless steel heat exchanger captures heat from the flames. Water is preheated as it flows through the exchanger’s tubing, capturing all additional heat before it escapes through the vents.

If the temperature sensor detects a variation from the desired setting, it prompts the panel to adjust the gas valve and water flow-regulating valve accordingly. The vent expels the exhaust gases to the outside.

In an electric on-demand water heater, the panel activates a series of heating elements that heat the water passing through them.

When you shut off the hot water valve, cold water stops flowing into the heater, and subsequently, the heating stops. The heater remains off until the next time you need hot water.

Related Article: An Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Hot Water Heater

Tankless Water Heater Cost

We can classify tankless water heater costs as follows:

  • Upfront cost: The average price of gas-powered tankless water heaters is $1000. You can buy a small unit for about $170, while a high-output model can set you back above $2,000. In contrast, on-demand water electric water heaters typically range between $90 and $900.
  • Installation cost: The cost of installing a tankless water heater and retrofitting utility hookups often runs between $40 and $175 per hour, depending on the location and amount of work needed.
  • Utility costs: Based on your neighborhood’s utility cost, gas-fueled water heaters may be more affordable to operate. But do not overlook annual gas maintenance costs.

Tankless Water Heater Installation

You are legally allowed to install a tankless water heater, but there are serious concerns regarding this. Installing a gas/propane heater requires making top-quality water, gas, and vent connections, while electrical models often demand an upgrade to the electrical wiring or circuit breaker. Many homeowners lack the electrical and plumbing expertise needed to perform these tasks.

Another concern is that a DIY installation may violate the equipment’s warranty. Some manufacturers would approve a warranty claim only if a qualified professional installed their product.

Rather than risk a DIY tankless water heater installation, have a professional plumbing contractor handle the task.

Tankless Water Heater Maintenance

All on-demand water heaters require ongoing maintenance for optimal efficiency and longevity. A primary maintenance task is descaling, which aims at removing accumulated minerals deposits system.

Descaling also involves flushing a substantial amount of vinegar through the system to break down the mineralized slime. It is highly advisable to descale your water heater at least once per year. But if you live in a hard-water area or you usually set the system’s temperature too high, have the heater serviced at least twice a year.

Tankless water heater maintenance can also involve checking the burner/ heating elements and changing water and air filters.

Hire a professional plumber near you to get input on your home situation.

How Long Do Tankless Water Heaters Last

With proper maintenance, most on-demand water heaters can last 20 years or longer, which is 2-3 times the typical lifespan of a tank heater. The risk of corrosion and sediment buildup is significantly lower in instantaneous water heaters, making them last much longer than the tank-style models.

Where Can I Buy One?

Plumbing-supply stores, big-box retailers (Think Home Depot), and online retailers (Think Amazon) stock sell all types of on-demand water heaters. Else, you can order one through your plumbing contractor.

What are the Benefits of Tankless Water Heaters?

» Compact

While a standard tank water heater can occupy as much as 16 square feet of floor space, tankless water heaters are much compact (about the size of a carry-on suitcase). Given this compactness, you can effortlessly hang one on a wall inside or outside your home.

» Lower Energy Bills

Tankless water heaters are more efficient, offering up to 40% energy savings.

» Safer

A tankless water heater is unlikely to explode or burst because it lacks a tank that can be susceptible to overheating or pressure spikes. Besides, many of these units are equipped with an overheating sensor that shuts down the heat exchanger if temperatures rise too high.

» Easier to Winterize

Winterizing a water heater and plumbing fixtures is recommended if a house will be vacant for a long time during winter and no water will be flowing through the pipes and water appliances. Blowing with an air compressor, you can drain a tankless water heater in a few seconds.

What Are the Downsides of a Tankless Water Heater?

» Higher Upfront Costs

An on-demand water heater can cost between 3-4 times more than a typical tank heater. And whereas the units can pay for themselves with energy bill savings, the payback period is usually longer, averaging around 24 years for a gas tankless heater and 11 years for an electric model.

» Flow Rate Issues

Instantaneous water heaters automatically shut off with a decline in flow rate, often resulting from a clogged shower head or faucet aerator or scale accumulation in pipes.

New Tankless Water Heater Technology

Tankless Water Heater Technology

» Instant Hot water

Typically, tankless water heaters take about 5 seconds to heat water to the desired temperature, but it takes some time to reach the intended outlet. To minimize time wastage, look for a heater with an in-built recirculation/circulator pump that periodically circulates water back to the water heater for reheating. Doing so ensures that hot water is instantly available at the water outlets.

» Higher Efficiency

Now available are condensing tankless water heaters that incorporate a secondary heat exchanger, which uses residual heat from the exhaust gases to preheat the water before it reaches the primary exchanger. The outcome is higher efficiency with more significant cost savings.

» Wi-Fi Compatibility

Also available today are Wi-Fi-enabled on-demand water heaters that will allow you to adjust temperature and monitor hot-water and gas usage remotely on your mobile device. The feature can also indicate the source of a particular problem, easing troubleshooting incredibly.

Trust the expertise of Gallegos Plumbing and get immediate assistance for professional water heater services and plumbing services in Thousand Oaks and nearby areas in Ventura County to address the problem timely. Give us a call now at (805) 243-2622.

What Size of Tankless Water Heater Do I Need?

When we talk about the size of a tankless water heater, we refer to the flow rate and temperature rise. Flow rate, denoted with gallons per minute (GPM), is the amount of water in gallons a water heater can heat and distribute. Temperature rise refers to the difference between the incoming cold water temperature and the desired temperature.

For a specific point of use heater, flow rate ranges between 1GPM and 5 GPM, while temperature rise lies somewhere between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Smaller under-the-sink versions have a lower flow rate of about 0.5GPM.

To install the correct size of a POU water heater, consider the showerhead and faucet flow rates, and find equipment with ratings around those figures.

Whole-house on-demand water heaters have a flow rate ranging between 4 and 8 GPM.

To correctly size a tankless water heater for your home, first, determine the flow rate for the heaviest usage you expect. For example, assume you intend to run a faucet (1 GPM), standard shower (2 GPM), a high-efficiency washing machine (1 GPM), and a dishwasher (2.5 GM) simultaneously. In this case your ideal flow rate would be (1 + 2+ 1 + 2.5) = 6.5 GPM.

Next, determine your groundwater temperature using a groundwater temperature map, depending on where you live. For example, if your groundwater temperature is 42 degrees Fahrenheit, 58 degrees Fahrenheit is the required temperature rise for hot water at 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tankless Water Heater FAQs

» Are There Special Requirements for Tankless Water Heater Installation?

You need a water heater permit to install an on-demand water heater in your home. Still, it is highly recommended that a professional HVAC/ plumbing contractor install your system. If you live in an area with hard water, buy a water conditioner to soften the water before entering your heater.

» Can I Replace My Tank Water heater with a Tankless Unit?

Yes, but you need to address some specifications. Gas models require large vents and a more expansive gas line. An electric model will require breakers and larger gauge wire.

» Is it True That Some Areas Do Not Allow the Installation of Some Types of Tankless Water heaters?

Yes. Some counties and cities prohibit the installation of some models of on-demand water heaters for various reasons. And also not that some models are not returnable. Because of this, ascertain that a particular unit is suitable for use in your location.

For more information about on-demand water heaters or to schedule tankless water heater installation with an expert, please contact Gallegos Plumbing for immediate assistance. Drop us a message today here, or more conveniently, call us at (805) 243-2622.

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