Get Unlimited Hot Water: The Ultimate Guide to Tankless Water Heater Installation
By Brian on August 10, 2023
Imagine a chilly winter morning. You’ve just rolled out of bed and you’re headed for the shower, only to be greeted by a shocking burst of cold water. It’s a scenario that’s all too familiar for many homeowners who rely on traditional water heaters that run out of hot water. But what if there was a way to get unlimited hot water whenever you need it? Enter the tankless water heater, a modern solution designed to provide hot water on demand, eliminating the need for a storage tank and the disappointment of a cold shower.
In this ultimate guide to tankless water heater installation, we will dive into the intricacies of this revolutionary technology. We’ll walk you through the concept of tankless water heaters, their benefits, how they work, and the considerations you need to take into account before installation. Moreover, we’ll provide a detailed, step-by-step guide to installation, discuss the costs involved, and weigh up the pros and cons of making the switch to a tankless system.
Whether you’re a homeowner seeking a more efficient hot water system or a business owner looking to cut down on energy costs, this guide has you covered. Let’s dive in and unravel the mystery of tankless water heater installation.
Understanding Tankless Water Heaters
Before we delve into the installation process, it’s essential to understand the concept of tankless water heaters. These devices are also referred to as on-demand water heaters because they heat water only when it’s needed. Unlike traditional water heaters that continuously heat and store water in a tank, tankless water heaters use high-powered burners to rapidly heat water as it runs through a heat exchanger, delivering hot water directly to your faucets or shower without storing any water.
The Concept of Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters operate on a simple yet efficient principle. When you turn on the hot water tap, the incoming water circulates through a heat exchanger in the unit, which uses either gas or electricity to heat the water. This process ensures you get a steady supply of hot water on-demand, without the need for a storage tank.
Benefits of Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters come with several benefits that include:
- Energy Efficiency: They are designed to be highly efficient as they only heat water when required, potentially saving up to 70 percent on a yearly heating bill.
- Space Saving: Due to their compact size, they can be installed in various locations like a garage, attic, basement, or utility closet, freeing up valuable floor space.
- Endless Hot Water: As the water is heated on demand, you can enjoy a continuous supply of hot water without worrying about the tank running out.
- Durability: These units can last longer than traditional water heaters, often over 20 years with proper maintenance.
How Tankless Water Heaters Work
When you open a hot water tap, the water heater detects the flow, triggering the heating elements or gas burner to turn on. The water then passes through the heat exchanger, rapidly heating it to your desired temperature. Once you close the tap, the water heater shuts off, conserving energy.
The operation of tankless water heaters makes them a more efficient and practical solution for hot water needs in households and businesses. However, their installation can be a bit more complex than traditional water heaters, often requiring upgrades to your home’s electrical system or gas line to meet the higher energy demands.
In the following sections, we’ll go through the step-by-step guide to installing a tankless water heater, helping you understand the process and the important considerations to make before you begin.
Before diving into the installation of a tankless water heater, there are three crucial aspects to consider: the local building codes, the need for a gas line upgrade, and choosing the right size and brand of the heater. Each of these steps will ensure a smoother installation process and optimal operation of your new tankless water heater.
Checking Local Building Codes
The first step in the process is to review your local building codes. These regulations can dictate specific requirements for the installation of tankless water heaters, such as venting specifications, minimum distances from windows and doors, and other safety considerations. Not adhering to these codes can result in fines, or worse, a safety hazard. Always make sure to check with your local municipality or a professional plumber to understand these local guidelines.
Upgrading Your Gas Line
Tankless water heaters typically demand more power than traditional models, which may necessitate an upgrade to your existing gas line. While the existing gas line may suffice, it’s essential to ensure it can handle the increased demand of your new water heater. If you’re unsure about this step, it’s best to consult with a professional. They can safely assess your current set-up and recommend whether a gas line upgrade is necessary.
Choosing the Right Size and Brand
Another crucial step is choosing the right size and brand for your tankless water heater. The size should be determined by your home’s hot water demand—consider factors like the number of bathrooms, appliances that require hot water, and the number of people in your household. A smaller unit may not be able to keep up with demand, leading to inconsistent hot water supply.
As for the brand, it’s essential to do your research. Consider factors such as energy efficiency, warranty, customer reviews, and the support services offered by the manufacturer. The right brand can offer you a balance of reliability, performance, and value for money.
While these pre-installation considerations may seem daunting, they are crucial steps in ensuring a successful and efficient installation of your new tankless water heater. Remember, when in doubt, it’s always best to consult a professional plumber, ensuring a safe and efficient installation process.
Step-by-Step Guide to Tankless Water Heater Installation
Are you ready to dive into the process of installing a tankless water heater? This guide breaks down each step, giving you a clear understanding of what’s involved. Remember, this is a complex task that involves gas and water lines, so it’s highly recommended to hire a professional plumber. However, it’s still beneficial to understand the process to ensure everything is done correctly.
Removing the Old Water Heater
First things first, you’ll need to remove the existing water heater. Start by turning off the water supply to the unit. If it doesn’t have a shut-off valve before the unit, you’ll need to turn off the main water supply. Then, drain the old water heater. Make sure to use a heat-resistant hose if the water is still hot. Disconnect the water heater from the water lines and gas line, then dispose of your old water heater properly.
Mounting the New Tankless Water Heater
Next, you’ll need to mount the new tankless water heater. The location is crucial due to the need for venting, which needs to be piped directly to the outside. Measure the space carefully to ensure your new water heater fits.
Installing the Gas Line
Now, it’s time to install the gas line. As tankless water heaters heat water on demand, they require more gas than a traditional water heater, which means you’ll likely need to upgrade your gas line. This should be done by a licensed contractor.
Installing New Water Lines
Now, you need to connect the new water lines to your water heater. This ensures the hot water is properly distributed throughout your home.
Installing the Pressure Relief Valve
The pressure relief valve is a crucial safety feature that releases pressure if it builds too high in the system due to water overheating. Make sure to install this according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Installing the Exhaust Vent
The exhaust vent is another crucial component, allowing combustion gases to be safely expelled from your home. The vent needs to be piped directly to the outside, so make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely.
Turning On the Water
The final step is to turn on the water. Open a faucet to full “hot” to purge air from the water pipes and heater, then turn the faucet off. Plug in the water heater, insulate the hot water pipe, and turn on the gas following any specific start-up procedures provided by the manufacturer.
It’s essential to ensure every step of the process is done correctly for your safety and the efficiency of your new water heater. If you’re not comfortable handling this installation, consider hiring a professional plumbing service to guarantee a safe and efficient installation.
Cost of Tankless Water Heater Installation
Stepping into a warm, relaxing shower only to be jolted by a sudden burst of cold water can be a chilling experience. By considering a tankless water heater installation, you’re choosing a path towards unlimited hot water and increased energy efficiency. However, it’s crucial to understand the costs involved to make an informed decision.
Tankless Water Heater Cost by Brand
The cost of a tankless water heater significantly varies depending on the brand you choose. Established and reputable brands like Noritz tend to have a higher price tag, ranging from $500 to $2,600. Meanwhile, newer brands like EcoSmart offer more affordable options, with prices ranging from $170 to $1,600. However, keep in mind that the cost doesn’t just reflect the unit’s price but also the warranties and customer service the brand provides.
Labor Cost for Installation
The labor cost for installing a tankless water heater depends on the complexity of the installation and the professional’s hourly rate, which typically ranges from $50 to $150 per hour. Installation can take anywhere from two to eight hours, depending on factors like the heater’s type, fuel source, and location. If your installation requires additional repairs or painting, expect to incur additional fees of around $200.
If you’re converting from a traditional tank water heater to a tankless system, there could be additional costs involved. This could include upgrading your gas line or electrical system to meet the demands of the new tankless water heater. It’s best to consult a professional to get an accurate estimate of these costs.
Additional Cost Factors
A variety of other factors can influence the overall cost of your tankless water heater installation. The size of the water heater plays a significant role in the price – larger units usually come with a heftier price tag. The fuel source also influences the cost, with more energy-efficient options like solar-powered tankless water heaters having a higher upfront cost but offering savings on energy bills in the long run.
As you move towards unlimited hot water and increased energy efficiency, remember that a tankless water heater is an investment. It’s not just about the upfront cost, but the long-term benefits and savings that it provides. With careful consideration of these cost factors, you can make a well-informed decision that best suits your needs and budget.
Pros and Cons of Tankless Water Heaters
As the saying goes, “every rose has its thorn,” and while tankless water heaters are an excellent option for many homeowners, they also come with their own set of pros and cons. Understanding these can help you make an informed decision about whether a tankless system is right for you.
Advantages of Tankless Water Heaters
Energy Efficiency: Tankless water heaters are a green choice. With energy efficiency levels ranging between 8% and 34% higher than traditional tank heaters, they help conserve energy and reduce carbon footprint.
Safety: Unlike traditional tank heaters that can leak, rust, or harbor bacteria, tankless systems are generally safer. Their design eliminates the risk of water damage from leaks and minimizes the risk of bacterial growth.
Lifespan: Tankless water heaters tend to outlast their traditional counterparts. While a conventional water heater lasts 8 to 12 years on average, a tankless system can perform optimally for 15 to 20 years when well-maintained.
Unlimited Hot Water: As the name suggests, tankless systems heat water on demand, providing an unlimited supply of hot water, unlike traditional heaters that can run out.
Disadvantages of Tankless Water Heaters
Higher Initial Costs: The upfront costs of a tankless water heater can be significantly higher than that of a traditional unit. This includes not only the cost of the unit itself but also the installation costs which can be quite steep.
Potential for Overload: If multiple appliances are using hot water simultaneously, it can strain the system, leading to a drop in water temperature.
Maintenance Costs: While regular maintenance can extend the lifespan of a tankless water heater, it could also mean higher maintenance costs compared to traditional units.
Possible Need for System Upgrade: In colder climates, you may need a tankless unit rated for a higher Gallons Per Minute (GPM) to compensate for the lower water temperature as it enters the system.
While the initial cost of a tankless water heater may seem high, the long-term savings in energy costs and the extended lifespan of the unit often balance out the upfront investment. It’s important to consider your individual needs, budget, and local climate when choosing between a traditional and a tankless water heater.
Maintenance and Life Expectancy of Tankless Water Heaters
A tankless water heater is a significant investment that, if properly maintained, can provide reliable hot water for many years. In fact, with regular care, your tankless system can even outlast traditional water heaters by a significant margin.
Regular Maintenance Tips
Just like other home appliances, tankless water heaters require regular maintenance to ensure efficient operation. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your system:
Annual Inspection: At least once a year, have a licensed plumber or heating contractor inspect your system. This will keep it working at peak efficiency and make it last its full lifespan.
Clean the Filter: Over time, debris can build up in the filter. Depending on the water quality in your region, you’ll need to clean the filter every six to twelve months.
Flush the System: At least once a year, flush your system to remove any buildup of minerals or scale that can affect performance. This is especially crucial if you live in an area with hard water.
Check for Leaks: Regularly inspect your system for any signs of leaks. This will help you catch and address any potential issues early on.
Adjust the Temperature: If you notice that your water is too hot or not hot enough, you can adjust the temperature on the control panel of your tankless water heater.
Remember that regular maintenance not only helps your system run more efficiently but also extends its lifespan, saving you money in the long run.
Expected Lifespan of Tankless Water Heaters
One of the great advantages of tankless water heaters over traditional tank models is their longevity. While a conventional water heater typically lasts between eight to 12 years, a tankless system can provide reliable hot water for 15 to 20 years, or even longer with proper care and maintenance.
It’s important to note that the specific lifespan of your unit can vary based on factors like usage, water quality, and maintenance practices. However, as a general rule, you can expect your tankless water heater to last significantly longer than a traditional tank model.
In conclusion, a tankless water heater is a smart, long-term investment that, with regular maintenance, can provide you with efficient hot water for many years. So, take the time to care for your system, and it will continue to serve you well.
Bask in the flow of never-ending hot water with the installation of a tankless water heater. As we’ve discovered, these ultra-efficient units not only provide a constant supply of hot water on demand but also help you save on energy costs. They’re an eco-friendly, long-lasting alternative to traditional tank water heaters.
Moreover, their compact design saves precious space in your home. With proper maintenance, they can serve you for over 20 years, making them a cost-effective solution in the long run.
However, it’s important to consider the initial installation costs and the need for regular maintenance. Also, remember that the size and brand of the heater, the need to upgrade your gas line, and adherence to local building codes can influence the overall cost of the transition to a tankless system.
Making the switch to a tankless water heater is a significant decision that requires thorough research and professional guidance. The complexity of installation underscores the importance of hiring experienced professionals to ensure the job is done right.
Remember, every home is unique, and so are its hot water needs. Take the time to understand your specific requirements and choose a model that best suits your lifestyle.
Ultimately, the rewards of installing a tankless water heater—a continuous supply of hot water, energy savings, and a boost in home value—make it a worthwhile investment for many homeowners. If you’re ready to take the plunge into the world of tankless water heaters, prepare for a future of unlimited hot showers and significant energy savings.
Thank you for joining us on this comprehensive guide to tankless water heater installation. We hope it has provided you with the knowledge and confidence to make an informed decision about your home’s hot water needs. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to reach out for expert advice and assistance.
Are Tankless Water Heaters Worth It?
Yes, tankless water heaters are often worth the investment for several reasons. They are more energy-efficient than traditional tank water heaters, with the U.S. Department of Energy noting that they can be 8% to 34% more efficient depending on the home’s daily hot water usage. This means you’ll save on energy costs in the long run. They also have a longer lifespan—15 to 20 years compared to 8 to 12 years for traditional systems.
How To Save on Installation Costs?
There are a few strategies to save on the installation costs of a tankless water heater. Firstly, it’s essential not to cut corners by attempting to install the system yourself or hiring an unlicensed contractor. Instead, focus on strategies like reducing hot water usage, performing annual maintenance, and using rebates on energy-efficient models. Also, purchasing a home warranty that covers water heaters will help offset any repair costs over time.
What is the Best Brand for Tankless Water Heaters?
The best brand for tankless water heaters can vary depending on your specific needs and budget. Some top-rated brands include Rheem, Rinnai, and Ecosmart, each offering various models to suit different home sizes and hot water demands. It’s essential to research and compare different brands and models to find the best fit for your home.
How Often Should a Tankless Water Heater be Serviced?
It’s recommended to have your tankless water heater serviced annually by a professional plumber or heating contractor. Regular maintenance will keep your system working at peak efficiency and extend its lifespan. This service typically includes checking for leaks, flushing the system to remove scale buildup, and inspecting all components for wear and tear.
Can a Homeowner Install a Tankless Water Heater Themselves?
While it’s technically possible for a homeowner to install a tankless water heater themselves, it’s not recommended. Installation can be a complex process, requiring knowledge of plumbing, electrical, and potentially gas systems. It’s best to hire a licensed professional to ensure the installation is safe and up to code. In addition, professional installation often comes with a warranty, providing peace of mind if any issues arise.