Many traditional methods of heating water are inherently wasteful. Keeping storage tanks full of water at high temperatures takes a lot of energy, and water is maintained at high temperatures 24/7. This is done to make sure hot water is available whenever it’s needed. However, this method doesn’t always work. Waiting for the hot water tank to refill is a common experience. Running a washing machine or dishwasher while someone takes a shower can be enough to drain a hot water storage tank.
Time and money are also necessary to keep tank water heaters operating efficiently. Sediment build-up in the tank and deteriorating tank walls and other components are all threats to proper function. Homeowners in Atlanta, GA, do have options though. Tankless water heaters generate hot water only when needed. They also continue producing hot water as long as necessary. In addition, tankless heaters can use 27 to 50 percent less energy than traditional tank heater models. Condensing gas heaters can use up to 96% of consumed fuel to heat water. Typical gas-fueled tank heaters waste up to 50% of the fuel they burn. A condensing heater can create an acidic condensate substance, so a neutralizing cartridge should be added if it isn’t already built into the unit.
Most tankless heaters take around 15 seconds to heat water to the desired temperature. Some wait time is still necessary for water to heat up before washing your hands or taking a shower. It could take less time to reach the fixture depending on the distance from the fixture. Tankless units can be installed very close to fixtures, which cuts down waiting time and improves energy efficiency.
Choose a heat with a built-in recirculation pump if the distance between the heater and plumbing fixtures is greater than 50 feet. The pump can be activated with a timer, power button, or motion sensor. If the tank is integrated into a smart home system, it can also be turned on with a smart speaker or smartphone. Some homeowners in Atlanta, GA, install 2 or 3 tankless hot water heaters to make sure there’s always enough hot water on-hand for daily tasks. Tankless water heaters don’t use energy when they aren’t actively heating water, so multiple heaters don’t waste energy when they aren’t in use.
Save Space and Avoid Bulky Tanks
New tank water heaters take up more space due to federal regulations that require thick insulation to reduce heat loss and increase energy efficiency. The larger size makes it more difficult to install tank-type heaters in corners, closets, or nooks and crannies that keep heaters out of the way. Tankless hot water heaters can be as small as a suitcase and may hang on the wall.
The absence of a large storage tank also means there’s no risk of flooding rooms with massive amounts of water when something goes wrong. Although Legionella bacteria in water heater tanks isn’t a common occurrence, there’s no risk at all with tankless heaters. Although tankless water heaters were once considered rather basic, they’ve grown much more sophisticated since the early 1990s. Some tankless water heaters are even compatible with smartphones and offer features such as built-in recirculating pumps and wireless connectivity that send you an alert when the unit is in need of maintenance.
How Tankless Water Heaters Work
Tankless water heaters have flow sensors that become active as soon as the unit is powered on. The sensor monitors water entering the heater and transmits a signal to the control panel to start heating water. Gas-fueled models also have fans that pull in air while the control panel opens the gas valve. The burner ignites at the same time. Each unit has a heat exchanger that absorbs heat from the natural gas-fed flame and transfers it to water moving through tubing within the exchanger.
A mixing valve regulates superheated water and the temperature sensor can tell if the water is above or below the desired setting. If the temperature is off, the control panel adjusts the gas valve, mixing valve, and flow-regulating valve as needed. Gas heaters produce exhaust gasses that need to be vented. This can be done through a sealed vent or pair of vents that exit through the roof or outer walls. Sealed air supply and vents mean carbon monoxide won’t flow into the house during backdrafts.
Installation and Maintenance
Installing tankless water heaters is a job for a professional. In order for the heater to work correctly, it needs a leak-free water vent and gas connections for natural gas or propane units. Electrical wiring and the circuit-breaker panel may need work or upgrades for electric units. Gas-fueled tankless water heaters may function for up to 20 years with proper maintenance. This is approximately 2 to 3 times longer than average tank-type heaters, although electric tankless heaters tend to have shorter functional lifetimes.
Some homeowners use a vinegar flush every 500 hours to reduce sediment from hard water deposits, although a professional can handle this task or use another method to address mineral residue as well. It is very important to keep scale buildup under control. Too much sediment can clog faucets and reduce water flow, which will hamper the ability of your tankless heater to provide sufficient amounts of hot water. If the flow drops to approximately 0.3 gpm, some tankless units will power down automatically.
The professional plumbers at Peach Plumbing & Drain in Atlanta, GA. are available to answer all your questions about tankless water heaters. An experienced team is available to install your new heater and get everything up and running correctly. You can also discuss scheduled maintenance for cleaning, changing water and air filters, checking burners, and other routine tasks.