Tankless Water Heaters
1929 brought about the introduction of the first tankless water heater. It was inefficient and unreliable until 1974, when manufacturers introduced a new version of this innovation.
Since that time, manufacturers have sold over 3 million tankless systems. Today's energy star tankless models have an energy efficiency rate of 27-50%. A family of four saves approximately $330 on their electric bill each year. Tankless water heaters realize a return on their investment in a short 2.4 years.
Is it time for you to upgrade to a new hot water heater? This guide will help you determine if a tankless unit is a worthy investment for your family.
What Is a Tankless Hot Water Heater?
Unlike the standard tank model, tankless water heaters only heat water when you need it. Because they heat the water on demand, they provide unlimited hot water on an as-needed basis. No more waiting for a shower until the tank refills.
You can buy a whole-house tankless water heater, which supplies enough hot water for all faucets and appliances. Or you can buy a single unit for one or more rooms with running water. All tankless hot water heaters have a unique flow rate, which produces a certain number of gallons per minute. This tankless water heater sizing tool by Rheem will help you determine the best size for your needs.
Speaking of tanks, tankless water heaters mount to the wall. Making the switch saves both money and space.
How Does Tankless Hot Water Heater Work?
Turning on the hot water tap engages your tankless water heater. Once engaged, cold water moves to the unit. There, the heating component heats the water and delivers it to the faucet. Manufacturers now sell both gas and electric tankless water heating systems.
The heating components for a tankless electric water heater are different from a gas tankless water heater. A tankless gas water heater uses heat exchangers, along with a pilot light or electronic ignition. Electric models use heating elements.
How Long Do Tankless Water Heaters Last?
A tankless water heater's life expectancy is 20 years. In comparison, with a tank unit, you will find yourself replacing the unit every 12 years. To extend your tankless system's life, specialists recommend an annual tankless water heater maintenance plan.
How Much Will a Tankless Water Heater Cost?
The cost of your tankless water heater depends on the unit size, fuel type, and the brand you buy.
- Whole-House Gas Tankless Water Heater Costs: $3,000 for the unit and installation. The gas-fired tankless water heater itself costs $1,100 on average.
- Whole-House Electric Tankless Water Heater Costs: $1,000 for the unit and installation. The electric tankless water heater itself costs $600 on average.
You will pay a higher installation cost for gas-fired units because it requires new venting ducts that your original storage tank water system did not need.
Common Tankless Hot Water Heater Problems
There are six common issues tankless water heater owners face. Let's take a look:
- Hot, Cold, Hot. We have all had it happen. You get in the shower after someone. Warm water flows, followed by cold water, and then the water heats back up. This complaint is common and unavoidable. When the last person turned off the shower, the water stayed trapped in the pipes. The cold you experience is that trapped water.
It happens with tank systems too.
- A buildup of Minerals. Over time, magnesium and calcium from your water develop. This buildup, also known as scaling, causes blockage. To avoid this, flush your tankless water heater every six months or invest in a water softener. Scaling occurs more often in areas with hard water and homes with well water.
- Exhaust or Air Supply Blockage. This issue signals an issue with venting or combustion air. Check for venting blockage and that all connections are secure.
- Overload. Yes, a tankless unit delivers an endless supply of hot water. But heaters often cannot deliver hot water to many places at once. If this often happens, consider adding a second unit or upgrading to a higher capacity unit.
- Flame Failure. This issue signals an electrical problem or a gas pressure issue. There are several potential causes, including a low propane tank, venting, and regulator failure.
- Failure to Ignite. Nine times out of ten, this is a gas supply issue. If you do have propane, check to make sure the water and gas valves are open all the way.
Tankless Water Heater Troubleshooting
Are you running into issues with your water heater? Let's take a look at some common problems and troubleshooting tips.
- Not Heating the Water. In a tank water heater, the anode rod is the common culprit. But tankless systems work a little differently. Check that the shut-off valve is open. Is the tap open to ensure proper flow rate? Are there any obstructions in the piping line? When the unit turns on, does the flame rod ignite a spark?
- Water Not Hot Enough. This problem could be as simple as increasing the temperature. Safe water heater temperatures are 125-130 degrees. If you have not flushed your tankless water heater lately, drain and flush it. Next, check for clogs in the fixture aerator, water filter, and venting system.
- Water Too Hot. This issue could signal the need to clean the water passageways or descale the unit. If this does not work, the temperature sensor might have gone bad.
- Strange Noises. First, check the unit to make sure the fan is free of debris. If you have a gas unit, the noises could be a combustion issue. If that is the case, it is time to get help from a certified technician.
- Gas Burner Won't Ignite. Check the gas pressure and bleed air from the gas line. Does the gas control valve open? Is condensation present? If the ignition problem persists, you may need to replace the flow sensor, wiring harness, or flame rod.
- Low Water Pressure. First, are too many faucets running at once? If not, check for obstructions in the water filter, fixtures, and plumbing. If you have a gas water heater, check the gas pressure.
Most gas and electric models come equipped with a diagnostic system. Check the manufacturer's handbook or website for a list of error codes.
Tankless Water Heater Repair
Your tankless water heater should run for 20 years with few issues. If you are a handy person, you could complete some repairs yourself. This article provides detailed instructions for some of the most common tankless water heater issues.
Who Services Tankless Heaters?
A water heater repair specialist can tackle all your repair and replacement needs. Most plumbers have the necessary qualifications for water heater installations.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Tankless Water Heaters?
Yes. Most home insurance policies cover all disasters unless listed as an excluded peril. Examples of excluded perils include wear and tear, flood, and earthquake. Also, your tankless water heater's coverage ends on its life expectancy birthday, 20 years.
Most insurance companies apply dwelling coverage to water heaters. This designation is because a tankless water heating unit is permanently affixed to a structure. When you file a claim, insurers will use RCV to value your tankless water heater, meaning they will not deduct depreciation. But you will pay your deductible.
Tankless water heaters in detached structures, like a pool house, have other structures coverage. Typically policies cover other structures with RCV valuations, and your deductible applies.
If your broken water damages other things, your policy covers those things too if the original tankless water heater suffered damage from a covered peril. However, if the unit broke because of a non-covered hazard, your policy would not cover those things either.
Equipment Breakdown Endorsement
For more comprehensive coverage, ask your insurance agent about equipment breakdown coverage. This endorsement adds sudden mechanical failure coverage for your home's appliances and systems. Covered systems include:
Standard wear-and-tear is not covered with this endorsement. Some carriers place age requirements on covered items, 20 years for a tankless water heater. Meeting your deductible comes before your insurance coverage applies.
Another option is to get a tankless water heater home warranty.
Let your insurance carrier know when you install a new tankless water heater. Some insurance companies apply discounts for units marked for energy efficiency.
Hope that helps!
At your service,