Tankless Water Heater

Old 11-29-01, 03:33 PM
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Tankless Water Heater

I may need a new water heater soon (mine close to 20 years old now) and was looking into a gas operated tankless type. The almost never ending hot water is a nice idea; however, I am not overly familiar with type of product. Any thoughts on these revolutionary type of heaters.
Old 11-29-01, 05:34 PM
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Hello: John Brunner

Hate to brake the news to you John, tankless water heaters are not new nor revolutionary. Before you make a purchase of one, there are a few thoughts I would like you to consider first.

Below is a prior article I posted regarding tankless water heaters.
Tankless Hot Water Heaters:
Used for Residential hot water.

Several questions have been posted on the topic of tankless water heaters. With that thought in mind, to the best of my knowledge and experiences, I hope to more fully explain the origins, applications, benefits and drawbacks to this product.

The name 'tankless' is the commonly used generic term for what is known in the trade industry as an 'intantaneous' water heater. Tankless water heaters are not new. They've been around for many years.

Initially designed and equipped for industries where storage space is limited but vast quantities of endless hot water is needed. These units are also used at large multi-unit residential complexes and mid-sized businesses for the same reasons. Intantaneous water heaters are also used as residential pool and spa water heaters.

Over the years, the design and applications have been modified and changed to became much smaller in size. The benefit to the intantaneous water heaters smaller size was to appeal to the broader residential retail sales market.

During my 20 plus years working in the gas appliance industry, about the only real problem found with tankless water heaters was parts availability and qualified repair services.

A combination of problems and unplanned events in years past, caused an otherwise fine product to almost totally fail in the retail residential market place. There is always exceptions to every rule. Therefore, in some parts of the country, this type of water heating unit used in homes may be more common then in others.

The major problem was the lack of infrastructure network of distributors, retail outlets, parts availability. Couple that with lack of localized, well trained, qualified, knowledgeable and experienced plumbing companies and independent local repair persons and or service agencies, and failure became assured.

Although the tankless units worked well, have several benefits over the tank type units, the above conditions and several other factors, including meeting city, state and local plumbing codes, etc, made the residential ownership of these types of water heaters doubtful.

Such may not be the case in every region of the country. However, prior to purchasing this type of unit, regardless of brand name, I would suggest and recommend you inquire into the potential problem possibilities mentioned above.

This is especially true, in my opinion, if your area's local larger retail plumbing companies do not advertize nor display these units in their stores. Keep in mind here, I am not referring to the nationwide large retail chain hardware stores. These stores are perfectly fine for their intended purposes. However, keep in mind their objective is selling and not after sales service.

In the case of the large retail chain stores, the installations may only be handled by subcontractors. Which may not be in your best interests when it comes time for service, serveral years later. That's when your local plumbing company is the major benefit over cost savings offered by the chain hardware stores.

Should you still be determined to save a few cents and purchase one of these units at a nationwide discount chain hardware store, attempt to obtain a list of installing contractors from that retailer with references of prior residential installations in your area.

If your wondering why I recommend all this preliminary ground work be done prior to making a purchase is necessary, consider this fact. When your unit fails to operate and you find yourself totally without HOT water, you could still be in HOT water......

You'll find yourself scrambling around to locate a plumbing company or service agent that services these units and or find a replacement parts dealer, when none is to be found! That's really being in HOT water!...

The condition mentioned above, is when a "Tank-less" water heater......quickly becomes a "Thank-less" water heater... In my years of service, I have found many such cases.

Based on the above information and in my opinion, my best suggestion is to buy any brand named unit sold exclusively by your local authorized and licensed plumbing contractor, company or dealer. In this way, your most likely to get better product, installation and service information and be assured all of your future needs will be met.

Another of "Toms" suggestions, if you do purchase a tankless water heater without thinking about future parts availablity and local service needs, is to scroll up to the top of this forum. Select "printer friendly version."

Print this article and post it next to your newly installed "Tank-less" water heater. When the day arrives and your "Thank-less" water heater fails to operate, don't say "Tom" didn't warn me....

Tom_Bartco Enterprises
Energy Consultant & Appliance Technician.
Alway's consider the warranties and future service needs for any units you may be considering to purchase. Price isn't always the best guide for the long term.

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