While water heater repair or water heater replacement can be done by experienced do-it-yourselfers, in most instances it is best left to the professionals, like your local Roto-Rooter plumber. However, every homeowner should be aware of the options available to them when it comes time to replace your home’s water heater.
When selecting a new water heater unit for your home, consider one that will provide plenty of hot water for your family’s size. Tankless water heaters are becoming increasingly popular because they are very energy efficient. However, tankless units have some disadvantages too that you should be aware of before purchasing one. Use this helpful chart to compare tankless water heaters with conventional models.
Heating water accounts for up to 30 percent of the average home's energy budget. Tankless water heaters, also known as on-demand water heaters, provide hot water only as it is needed. These types of units can save you money because they don't produce the standby energy losses associated with storage tank water heaters.
Tankless models heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a coil pipe into the unit. Either a gas burner or electric element quickly heats the coil which in turn heats the water that passes through it. Therefore, tankless water heaters provide a continuous supply of hot water. You don't have to wait for a storage tank to fill up with more hot water after a long, hot shower. However, a single tankless unit provides a limited flow of hot water per minute – between two and five gallons. The good news is that more than one tankless unit can be ganged together to overcome these limitations.
Tankless units are best for homes that typically aren’t drawing water for more than one use at a time, such as showering and doing laundry simultaneously. Tankless models also are better for homes that use natural gas to heat the water. But some models may require a larger diameter gas line than you have in your house. Electric models might require a costly upgrade of the home's electrical capacity.
There are two types of on-demand water heaters - electric tankless water heaters and tankless gas water heaters. Gas-fired units produce higher flow rates than electric ones. Sometimes, however, even the largest gas-fired model cannot supply a sufficient supply of hot water for simultaneous, multiple uses in large households.
There are a variety of advantages and disadvantages to tankless units in general. For homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, on-demand water heaters can be more energy efficient than conventional storage tank water heaters.
The up-front cost of a tankless water heater is more than a conventional storage water heater, but tankless units will typically last longer and have lower operating and energy costs. Most have a life expectancy of more than 20 years, and they also have replaceable parts that extend the life of the unit by many more years. Storage tank water heaters typically last between 10 and 12 years.
Tankless water heaters can avoid the standby heat losses associated with storage water heaters. And, although gas-fired tankless models tend to have higher flow rates than electric ones, they can waste energy if they have a pilot light that burns constantly. Tankless water heaters also need to be descaled once or twice a year and this can be time consuming.
Before buying a tankless water heater, you must consider several things, including the size of the unit, fuel type and availability, energy efficiency and cost, including any retrofits and upgrades to gas lines and electrical capacity. A Roto-Rooter water heater expert will help you determine which water heating system is right for your home and budget, taking into consideration your family’s size, water heating needs and energy usage expectations.