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How Does a Tankless Water Heater Work?

a shower that has been turned on with hot water coming from a tankless water heater

You might have heard your friends and family talk a lot about tankless water heaters lately. These are a newer type of appliance that can have many benefits for your household. But, before you decide to convert to a tankless water heater, it is good to know what you are getting into.

Regular water heaters work by heating water and then storing it until you are ready to use it. Tankless water heaters also heat up your water, but they work a little differently. These appliances are also called instantaneous or demand-type water heaters.

With a tankless water heater, the heating process happens when you turn on the tap. It is at this moment that cold water starts to flow through your home’s pipes to the water heater. This heater is typically located close to the place where you use it, such as near the sink. When water reaches the appliance, it travels through the heating element. The element is usually either electricity or gas-powered. Next, the hot water goes directly to the tap, so you can use it.

Advantages of Tankless Water Heaters

A major advantage of switching to this type of water heater is that it can help you save money on your energy bills. Most households use around 30% less energy with tankless water heaters than with traditional heaters. Even households that use a lot of hot water can use about 10% less energy with this kind of water heater. Also, electric tankless water heaters save more energy than gas-powered ones. This is because the pilot light in gas-powered heaters can consume more energy.

You can save even more energy if you install a tankless water heater near each place that you use hot water. For instance, you might put one by the dishwasher and another by the shower. This can make your home as much as 50% more energy efficient than if you had a traditional storage tank heater. Each on-demand water heater costs more upfront than a conventional water heater. But, they can help you save money over time because they typically last longer. Conventional storage tank heaters usually last just around 10 to 15 years, but tankless heaters can last over 20 years.

You can make your tankless heater last even longer by scheduling regular maintenance checks. This can help your heater run better and for a longer amount of time. If you contact a trusted plumbing specialist, they can maintain your water heater and take care of all needed repairs. These professionals can save you money and stress by doing all the challenging work to keep your heater up and running.

Another upside of a tankless water heater is that it can give you hot water on-demand. Typical water heaters can only supply a tankful of hot water at a time. When this water runs out, you will have a cold shower until the tank can fill up again. On the other hand, tankless water heaters give a constant supply of hot water. This means that if you are running one appliance at a time, you should not run out of hot water with this kind of heater.

Disadvantages of Tankless Water Heaters

Unfortunately, one of the major downsides of switching to a tankless water heater is that they have a limited flow rate. That means that one tankless water heater might not be able to heat water for your entire home. When this issue occurs, many homeowners worry that their tankless water heater is not heating. In reality, there are just too many appliances using hot water at once. Gas-powered heaters are usually more powerful than electric, but both can have this problem.

This can become an even bigger issue if you try to use hot water in different areas of the house at the same time. For example, if you try to take a shower while the dishwasher is running, then you might end up with a cold shower. To avoid this, you might have to install more than one tankless hot water heater to get enough hot water.

You might also consider using a tankless water heater and a conventional water heater together. For example, you might place a conventional water heater next to your washer and use your tankless water heater to supply hot water to the rest of the house. This can help make sure you have enough hot water for a shower, even when the dishwasher is on.

Another reason some homeowners hesitate to upgrade to a tankless water heater is the upfront cost of purchasing this type of water heater. Typically, tankless water heaters are more expensive to purchase than their traditional counterparts.

Each household is different, and many homeowners find it difficult to know what kind of water heater is right for them. That is why it is best to call a plumbing professional. They can offer honest advice on how different kinds of water heaters perform. Plus, these professionals can also give you the information you need to pick the right water heater for your home.

No matter what kind of water heater you have in your home, all water heaters need some maintenance. In the plumbing world, a main part of maintenance is what we call “flushing”.

an exposed brick kitchen with stainless steel appliances

How Do I Know If My Tankless Water Heater Needs a Flush?

To “flush” a tankless water heater means to clean out your heater. This involves using special equipment to remove minerals and debris, which build up in the appliance over time. If there is too much sediment in your heater, then the appliance will have to work harder and use more energy to produce hot water. This can also mean you will start to have lower water pressure, which can really ruin a shower.

It is important to have a plumbing specialist flush your tankless water heater on a regular basis. This helps your heater last longer, and it helps it work better throughout its lifetime. It can also help prevent other costly and complicated problems with your heater, such as leaks.

In general, it is good to flush your tankless water heater at least once a year. But there are some factors that might change how often you need to flush it. For example, if you have hard water, then this can cause sediment to build up in your heater more quickly. In these areas, you will need to flush your heater more often and it may be worth considering the pros and cons of a water softener.

If you contact a licensed plumber, they can give you expert advice on how often your specific tankless water heater needs flushing. They can also help answer any other questions you might have and take care of flushing your water heater.

What’s Involved in Flushing a Tankless Water Heater?

There are several steps involved in flushing a water heater, and you need special equipment to do it right. Some of the necessary supplies include a submersible pump, hoses and a special descaling solution.

The first step in flushing a tankless water heater is to disconnect the water and power supplies to the appliance. Then, open the pressure relief valve. This helps reduce the risk of electric shock. This can be a problem whenever you work with a heavy appliance like a tankless water heater. It also helps avoid a mess of your water heater leaking while you are cleaning it.

The next steps basically involve connecting the hoses to the water heater and the pump and then adding a descaling solution. Once the pump has run for at least an hour, the process essentially goes in reverse. Turn off the pump, disconnect everything and turn the water and power supply back on.

This should leave you with a clean water heater that is ready to get to work for you and your family. But, flushing a water heater can be a messy and risky undertaking. If you do not feel comfortable flushing your water heater on your own, a licensed plumbing professional can handle everything for you.

After hearing about all the benefits of tankless water heaters, you might wonder what it would take to get one installed in your home.

a tank water heater that is about to be taken out so the homeowner can convert to a tankless water heater

What Does Converting to a Tankless Water Heater Involve?

Before you decide to convert to a tankless water heater from a tank heater, it is important to keep several factors in mind. For one, it takes a lot of hard work to install a new water heater. That is why the best choice is to contact a plumbing specialist. They can do all the hard installation work for you and take care of everything along the way.

If you prefer to take a do-it-yourself approach to converting from a conventional appliance to a tankless water heater, you will need to follow several steps. For one, you might have to upgrade your gas line. You will also need to remove the old water heater. This involves disconnecting the old appliance from water and power supplies and figuring out where you can take the water heater. In most cities, you will either need to schedule a special pick-up day or take the appliance to a special facility.

Next, you must decide where you want to put your new water heater, mount it and connect the appliance to water and power supplies. To get the appliance where you want it, you might need to install a new water line, pressure relief valve and exhaust vent.

Each step in installing a tankless water heater involves a dangerous and complicated process. Plus, the installation must follow special plumbing and electric specifications. Without these, your new water heater might not be able to pass the building codes for your area. It might also involve getting a special permit from the city where you live. This is why installing a water heater is a job best left to the pros.

ABC Can Take Care of All Your Tankless Water Heater Needs

There are many benefits of tankless water heaters. However, installing and maintaining a tankless water heater is a job best left to a professional. At ABC Home & Commercial Services, our specialists are highly trained and can take care of any water heater service you may need. We even have pros available 24/7 for those repairs that just can’t wait.

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