Dangers of Tankless Water Heaters

Dangers of Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless hot water heaters are becoming popular among homeowners. Even though they can be expensive to buy and install, their energy efficiency offset the extra costs over time. You may also hear the name on-demand water heater, which is the same as a tankless water heater.

Tankless water heaters do not keep forty or fifty gallons of water stored and heated in a tank around the clock. Instead, hot coils heat the water on-demand as it flows over the coils and into showers, sinks, etc. This design difference between a conventional tank water heater and a tankless hot water heater can result in significant savings over time.

However, tankless heaters do not always perform well handling more than one task at a time. For example, if you run the dishwasher and take a shower simultaneously, the unit may struggle to keep up if your unit is too small.

They do quite well with one task at a time. E.g., you could shower for twenty-four straight hours without running out of hot water. The tankless water heater operates for as long as needed. You must buy the correct size to avoid this issue.

Typically, homeowners buy one large system for the entire house, which saves on energy bills by 14%. Contractors call that set up a whole-house tankless water heater design. Or, you can buy a dedicated unit for each room with a faucet, which saves you 50% on electric bills.

Tankless Water Heater Dangers vs. Conventional Tank Water Heater Dangers
Water heaters, in general, are much safer than they were a generation ago, yet dangers remain.

Dangers of Conventional Tank Water Heaters
There are two potential dangers associated with conventional tank water heaters. Tankless water heaters do not experience these issues.

  1. Overheating / Explosion. A conventional storage tank water heater can potentially overheat and explode. This risk is uncommon but extremely dangerous when it does happen.

    Conversely, tankless hot water heaters do not store hot water and cannot explode.
     
  2. Severe Burns. Conventional water heaters have pilot lights, which means they have open flames, however small. They may also have parts that are extremely hot to the touch. Burns are a potential danger, especially with children or pets in the house.

    Comparatively, most tankless water heaters use ignition lighting, which means no exposed elements remain hot.

Dangers of Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters are quite safe. There are a few potential dangers worth avoiding, however.

  1. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. A tankless gas water heater releases carbon monoxide when running. Proper installation includes appropriate venting. Venting allows the carbon monoxide to disperse outside safely.

    If not correctly installed and vented, carbon monoxide can build up inside your home, which is extremely dangerous for anyone inside at the time.
     
  2. Gas Explosion. A professional should install your gas-powered tankless heater to reduce the danger of natural gas leaks. Any spark or open flame can ignite natural gas in the air. In addition to property damage, this could injure or kill anyone in the vicinity.
     
  3. Electrical Fires. Fires are a severe but low risk associated with any installed electrical appliance. Improper installation can lead to exposed or inadequate wiring, which creates a fire risk whenever the current is live.

How to Avoid Dangers of Tankless Water Heaters
The best way to avoid potential dangers associated with any tankless water heater is to make sure it is installed properly in the first place. A professional plumber is best equipped to do that. They have the training, equipment, and experience to vent the heater correctly.

It is worth the investment to hire someone with experience installing a tankless water heater.

How Much are Tankless Water Heaters?
Installation costs for a tankless hot water heater vary widely. Costs depend on what type of system you choose and what is required to vent it. According to HomeAdvisor.com, the average price to install a tankless water heater is $2,217 plus the cost of the unit itself. You should compare quotes from local contractors before making your final decision.

If you choose to install the unit yourself, contact the manufacturer first. They may be able to provide detailed specs and instructions before you begin.

Check state and local codes to verify you have the required permits to do the work. You will be dealing with electrical connections and a gas line. You do not want to improvise and hope for the best. If you must call a professional later, qualified plumbers charge anywhere between $45 and $200 per hour.

Once installed, pay attention to warning messages, however minor. Keep up with suggested maintenance and treat the device with care. Most popular models require minimal maintenance, but that does not mean you should ignore them entirely. Taking care of your tankless water heater will keep everyone safer. It will also increase the life of the unit.

Does Home Insurance Cover Broken Tankless Water Heaters?
Most home insurance HO3 policies will not cover damage to the tankless water heater itself if it breaks from mechanical failure. (This is true for conventional tank water heaters as well). Insurers consider it plumbing, and most policies exclude damaged plumbing. 

Also, it cannot be at or past its expected life span, which is roughly 20 years for tankless water heaters. E.g., if your water heater is 21 years old and a covered peril damages it, your insurer will not cover the unit.

The exception is if the tankless water heater is damaged by a covered event, like a fire or tornado. In those cases, insurers do cover the cost of repairs or replacement if the unit is less than 20 years old.

Perils Covered by Home Insurance

Does Home Insurance Cover Damages Caused by Broken Tankless Water Heaters?
Damage to the home due to unexpected malfunction of a water heater also is not covered. Since a mechanical failure caused the initial damage, any damages the water heater causes to other things are not covered. 

Also, if the water heater is past its replacement date, any damage it causes is not typically covered. If the homeowner has not followed suggested maintenance and care for the device, that is also a problem. If you ignore early warning signs of a problem and the unit later fails, any resulting damages are not covered.

However, as with the unit, if a covered peril damages parts of your dwelling, like the floor, or personal items, like bikes, your insurer will cover those damages.

The best way to find out what is specifically covered or excluded in your policy is to ask your agent. It turns out we can help with that. So why not get started today? No sense waiting until you are in...hot water.

Hope that helps!

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At your service,
Young Alfred