Tankless water heaters have become very popular during the 21st century. However, since they’re a relatively recent innovation, many homeowners are still unfamiliar with them and have questions about how they operate. Whether you’re thinking about installing a tankless water heater or just want to know more about them, we encourage you to read the following answers to commonly asked questions.
How does a tankless water heater work?
The main thing that differentiates a tankless water heater is, obviously, the lack of a storage tank. Whereas a conventional water heater stores hot water in its tank (water which it must continually reheat), a tankless unit only heats water as needed. It does this with a built-in heating element (typically a gas burner), although some units utilize electricity. Herein lies one of a tankless water heater’s main advantages: Since it isn’t limited to a set amount of hot water in a tank, it’s able to provide a virtually endless supply of hot water as needed.
Does a tankless water heater save energy?
Since it only heats water on demand, a tankless water heater uses substantially less energy than a conventional water heater, which must continually heat the water in its tank throughout the day. With a storage tank model, you pay to heat water even when you’re not using it, including while you’re at work or on vacation. In contrast, a tankless water heater only heats water when hot water is requested, which can translate to major energy savings.
Does a tankless water heater provide instant hot water?
While it can provide endless hot water, a tankless water heater does not provide instant hot water—that is, unless you purchase one with a built-in recirculating pump. In this scenario, you can program your unit to heat water at a certain time, so you’ll have hot water as soon as you get up in the morning.
Does a tankless water heater cost more than a storage tank water heater?
Yes. What’s more, if you’re converting from a storage tank unit to a tankless one, the initial installation can be quite expensive. This is because tankless water heaters have different water hook-up and ventilation requirements, so the existing plumbing will need to be converted. In addition, it is likely that you will be required to install a new gas line, as tankless water heaters require 4x more BTUs then traditional heaters. Luckily, since a tankless water heater uses less energy than a storage tank unit, it can still save you money in the long run.
Does a tankless water heater require ongoing maintenance?
Any water heater requires ongoing maintenance, and tankless models are no exception. What’s more, due to tankless water heaters’ many internal components, they tend to be more temperamental if maintenance is neglected. For this reason, if you opt to invest in a tankless unit, make sure you’re willing to invest in ongoing maintenance.
One of the most important preventative maintenance steps for a tankless water heater is descaling, or cleaning the inside of the heat exchanger. Tankless water heaters should be descaled once a year. If you don’t descale your unit, sediment will start to build up inside the heat exchanger, which can hamper the unit’s efficiency. What’s more, pieces of sediment can trickle down and get into other unit components such as the fan and the solenoid valve. This is a good example of how even a small thing can cause a lot of damage and why ongoing maintenance is crucial to a tankless water heater’s long-term performance.
Does a tankless water heater make sense for my home?
It depends primarily on the size of your household and your usage habits/needs. The main reason to purchase a tankless water heater is if you have issues with running out of hot water. This is more common in large households, where there are several people taking showers and using hot water. Since a tankless hot water can supply endless hot water, it can be a great investment in such instances. However, if you have a small household (a family of three, for instance), you’re less likely to reap a substantial benefit from switching to a tankless model.