Ask a Plumber Blog: Guidance from a Master Plumber

What is a Tankless Water Heater?

It might seem rather obvious, but a tankless water heater is – you guessed it, a water heater that has no tank. Also known as an on-demand water heater or instantaneous water heater, the tankless water heater has become quite popular in recent years and with good reason.

Instead of the traditional way of slowly heating gallons of water in a large tank and then keeping said water in the tank hot, a tankless water heater heats water rapidly and only heats the water that is needed.

Let’s take a closer look:

water heater tips maintenance tank tankless electric gas

How a Tankless Water Heater Works

If you grew up in a household with a lot of family members and had to wait your turn to get into the bathroom to take a bath or shower, you probably remember what it felt like when the water heater decided to run out of hot water.

One minute you were singing the latest hit song from the radio in a nice hot shower with your hair full of shampoo, the next minute you were standing in freezing ice water singing an off-pitched soprano.

Thankfully, the tankless water heater eliminates this type of problem by heating the water directly without it first having to get hot in the storage tank.

Depending on which type of tankless water heater you have, a gas burner or electric element, the water goes straight from the pipe into the unit which heats the water before sending it on to wherever the hot water faucet has been turned on. Since there is no waiting for it to get hot, the tankless water heater supplies a constant stream of hot water.

Pros and Cons of a Tankless Water Heater

There’s a whole lot of stuff to love about the tankless water heater and, a few things we don’t like. Let’s take a look at some of the disadvantages to owning one first.

The Disadvantages of Owning a Tankless Water Heater

Tankless water heaters deliver unlimited amounts of water, but there’s a limit to how much water they can deliver all at once. Although a traditional water heater can provide as much hot water as the pipes will allow, tankless water heaters can’t do this since they have to heat the water before it passes through. This problem can be eliminated, however, by ensuring that the tankless water heater is large enough to supply the amount of heated water your household will need.

You may sometimes end up with a cold-water sandwich effect. This is where the water from the tankless water heater is initially warm, but then is followed by a burst of cold water before becoming warm again. This is a common phenomenon with tankless water heaters and usually occurs when the hot water is turned on, turned off, and turned back on again.

Hardwater will destroy a tankless water heater. Fortunately, the state of Georgia doesn’t have the type of hard water problems that some other areas of the country experience. We do have slightly hard water though, so regularly flushing out the unit is necessary to keep it operating correctly. If you are not comfortable doing this on your own, we do offer a 3-tiered preventive maintenance program that includes this kind of service.

tankless-water-heater trinity plumbing endless hot water shower with steam

The Benefits of Owning a Tankless Water Heater

The most obvious benefit of owning a tankless water heater, of course, is as we already mentioned that you have an unlimited supply of hot water. This means that if every single person in your family got to take their shower before you did, you could still fill up your bathtub with hot water and it would be ready for you to get in.

Some other benefits of a tankless water heater include:

They take up a lot less floor space than a regular water heater. In fact, they are actually quite small (suitcase size!) and some units, such as the Navien tankless water heater takes up about 80 percent less space than its regular old-fashioned water heater counterpart. The really great thing about them is that they mount on the wall, so if you’re limited on space they won’t take up a lot of room.

They are energy efficient. Some models are even Energy Star certified and have an energy efficient level of up to up to 0.97 UEF / 0.99 EF. Since they don’t have to constantly keep water hot when they are not in use, they don’t have the same type of energy loss that a traditional tank water heater does.

Tankless water heaters last longer than regular water heaters. Most traditional tank water heaters have about a six to nine-year warranty with some higher end models having a 12-year and generally last 12 to 15 years. Tankless water heaters generally have warranties in the 12 to 15-year range, but even after the warranty goes out, many will last 20 years or more if they are properly maintained.

Selecting a Tankless Water Heater

The best type and model of water heater for your home depends on several different factors.

Here are a few things you will need to consider before you decide:

What type of fuel will you need and how much will it cost?

Since tankless water heaters can run off of either gas or electricity, you can choose either one, but the energy source used to heat your water will affect your water heater’s annual operating costs.

What size water heater do you need?

One of the things both tankless water heaters and traditional water heaters have in common is that it is extremely important that you get the right size for the job. If a water heater is too small, it will have problems providing your household with the amount of heated water that you want to use and this will affect its ability to operate at maximum efficiency.

On the other hand, if you select a unit that is bigger than what you require, you will increase your annual operating cost and you are paying more for the size of a unit that you might not really need.

How energy efficient is it?

To truly maximize both your cost and energy savings, you need to understand how energy efficient your tankless water heater actually is. We can show you just how much money you’ll really save.

What is the actual cost? A tankless water heater does cost more initially than a traditional water heater, but an energy-efficient model can more than make up for that in annual operating costs.

Other blog articles about water heaters you may be interested in reading:

Are You Interested in a Tankless Water Heater?

If you’re considering purchasing a tankless water heater,  contact us today. We can answer any questions you may have and help you determine which tankless water heater is right for you and your family.

Picture of Robert (Master Plumber)

Robert (Master Plumber)

Owner of Trinity Plumbing, LLC
Residential & Commercial Plumbing

Serving: Acworth, Dallas, Kennesaw, Marietta, Smyrna, & surrounding Metro Atlanta areas

Full Bio & All Author Posts
Picture of Robert (Master Plumber)

Robert (Master Plumber)

Owner of Trinity Plumbing, LLC
Residential & Commercial Plumbing

Serving: Acworth, Dallas, Kennesaw, Marietta, Smyrna, & surrounding Metro Atlanta areas

Full Bio & All Author Posts