Among the buzz words in building and remodeling circles is the concept of the tankless water heater – a unit that warms incoming water without the need for a large-capacity attached storage tank. Often touted for “instant hot water” – which is doesn’t really provide – a tankless system has limitations. Hard water is one of its major challenges, and it is a fact of life in Cross Plains WI and the surrounding countryside.
Benefits of Tankless Water Heaters
Also known as “on-demand” water heaters a tankless system only heats water as required – not storing and slowly heating a large quantity in a space-consuming tank. When hot water is needed the heater reacts quickly.
TIP FROM A PRO – while all standard water heaters work pretty much the same, that’s not true with tankless water heaters. Each manufacturer has its own technology, engineering and design features so comparing these products as a group isn’t reliable. Research individual brands – rely upon a trusted, licensed installation professional for recommendations.
The benefits of installing a tankless system as opposed to a more traditional water heater include:
- Size – tankless water heaters are quite small compared to traditional models
- Space-saving – a standard heater with its accompanying tank takes up valuable floor space – the bigger the capacity of the tank, the more space – while tankless heaters are mounted on the wall.
- Unlimited hot water – because water is heated on-demand there’s no tank to run dry and need reheating – you can fill a hot tub with hot water and not worry about having plenty left to run the dish washer!
- Reduced Energy Use – the most popular feature of a tankless installation is that it uses far less energy than traditional water heaters. Natural gas fired or electric heaters consume energy almost all the time to keep water in the reservoir hot and ready for use.
- Longer lifespan – tankless water heaters are expected to have longer useful lifespans and many come with much longer warranties than traditional models.
Even with the list of benefits growing, tankless systems aren’t the answer for everyone. They have drawbacks, including:
- Initial Cost – the cost of advanced technology is usually higher for both the basic unit and installation.
- Require Professional Installation – with special venting requirements and power needs they aren’t nearly as simple as tank systems.
- Limited Delivery – while they can provide almost instant hot water there’s a limit to how much they can deliver at a time. Traditional heaters deliver as much water as the pipes will hold while tankless water heaters only heat water as it passes through them – in climates like southern Wisconsin where ground water is cold much of the year a large tankless system is required along with a strong, steady flow of water.
- Not Immune to Hard Water – tankless systems have issues with hard water but the impact is often less drastic than with traditional tank installations and is likely to show up later in the system’s life. Scale built up from household water can cause the unit’s heat exchanger to overheat, damaging the system.
TIP FROM A PRO – Modern systems all provide safety shut-off protection should the heat exchanger overheat to prevent extended damage to the unit or surroundings. But, if the unit is reset without troubleshooting to determine the real problem, it will shut down again and again.
- Require Periodic Maintenance – most systems require at least an annual maintenance routine that includes a flushing to reduce the buildup of mineral deposits from hard water. Time between cleaning depends on how hard your water is – if you have a water softener it expands the timeline. This is a job best left to professionals.
TIP FROM A PRO – the experienced, licensed plumbers from Sauk Plains Plumbing offer a specific de-scaling program for tankless and traditional water heaters.
Avoid Hard Water Concerns
Just because southern Wisconsin is plagued with hard water doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the benefits of the latest water heating technology. There are steps you can take to minimize the impact of mineral elements in your water whether it comes from your own well or a municipal system, including:
- Install a High-quality water softener – a softening unit takes the minerals out of the water before it goes into your home’s plumbing, protecting pipes and appliances.
- Plan on Cleaning – when you have a tankless system installed be sure the piping is done so the unit can be easily cleaned and flushed.
- Set a Water Pressure Benchmark – a professional installer can measure water pressure at the inlet while operating the heater at full flow. This sets a benchmark for a new, clean heat exchanger and makes it easier to determine at a later date if there’s scale buildup in the system.
Rely Upon Experience
Installing the right sized heater for your hot water demands is critical to your appreciation of the results. Rely upon the trained, licensed professionals at Sauk Plains Plumbing and Pumps to determine which product best suits your home. Call Sauk Plains Plumbing, 608-798-2121, for an accurate hard water test and to review available tankless water heater options in Cross Plains, Verona, Waunakee and Middleton WI.