Hot Water Heaters in Remodeling Projects

Our sales and design team is finding it necessary to have a discussion with homeowners about including tankless hot water heaters in their remodeling projects. I just read a good article that explains it written by Charlie Wardell in a Hanley Woods Publication so let me tell you what I understood these efficiency professionals to be the reasons why. Most contractors and homeowners think of tankless water heaters as the most efficient way for hot water delivery throughout your house.  The tankless units do tend to cost more to purchase than traditional tank style units; however, they allow endless hot showers and the use of multiple appliances utilizing hot water at one time. They can last five to ten years longer than conventional storage water heaters. Tankless units don’t heat water when it’s not needed, homeowners see lower energy bills.

Good news for cold climates like the winters here in New Jersey- there’s evidence that propane and gas tankless units perform better than electric. A test preformed for a January 2019 Consumer Reports article, gas models consistently heated water to the setpoint temperature, while some electric units couldn’t keep up when supply water was colder than 58 degrees Fahrenheit .  (Note that while Consumer Reports tested natural gas units, propane burns at a nearly equal flame temperature.)

It is recommended to use a water softening system or do an annual flush with tankless hot water systems. This helps to prevent calcium deposits. Regular maintenance helps keep the unit functioning over its maximum life span an estimated at more than 20 years. You can have your plumber flush the system, which is what I do, or you can ask them about doing it yourself.  Mr. Wardell states in his article it is simple to do, but I am a magnet for screwing stuff up so I let the professional handle it.

Austin, Texas, builder and remodeler Matt Risinger has installed a lot of tankless units for customers. He says preparing your homeowners with a softening system or a plan to flush their own unit can provide them with significant savings.  “If you have a softening system, you may never have to worry about maintenance,” he says. Plus, a softening system can also improve the performance of dishwashers and washing machines in homes with hard water. (See Risinger debunk the myth that tankless units don’t run on well water here.)

We here at Amiano & Son Design-Build hear a lot about the lagtime for the tankless hot water systems. I recently learned there is a difference between “limitless” vs. “instant” tankless systems.  A tankless unit has to fire up and get up to temperature before it can push out the cold water in the plumbing system between the water heater and the fixture.  I have witnessed it with my own tankless system. The unit fires up when demanded by a fixture or appliance. The cold water has to pass through the plumbing system. If you are using a small bath faucet the water takes longer to push through the system than it does with a large shower head.  When the water supply is cold it might longer than with a tank water heater.

Tankless water heaters offer options in their installation location due to their small size and versatile venting, so one option is to locate tankless water heaters close to areas like the kitchen sink where hot water is used a lot on demand.  If you want immediate hot water then your best bet is to ask to have the system placed as close as possible to the location where you would like the instant hot water.

According to our plumber George from GPS there are options of tankless units with recirculating pumps. The recirculating pumps whether in the units or installed separately can increase the on demand capacity by constantly pushing the warm water through the system. Also, look online at all the smart tank features where you can schedule your water to warm up prior to your shower or bath !

In the end we all can agree that there is no point in having a luxury shower without a tankless system that can give you unlimited hot water.

Wendy Amiano

Wendy Amiano

Recently recieving her NARI certification as a Certified Remodeler Wendy Amiano has worked in many areas of remodeling. Her knowledge extends into various areas of the remodel but her main specialty is consulting on the before, during and after a remodel as featured at the Philly Home Show.