Tankless water heaters are quickly becoming popular throughout the world. They are being used in everything from homes to commercial settings and even on cruise ships! Are you thinking about getting a tankless water heater but don’t know how it works? Because the technology is relatively new, many people are not sure what a tankless water heater does and if it is right for them. That’s why our team at Christian Brothers Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electrical is here to give you all the information required to make an informed decision.
What Is a Tankless Water Heater?
A tankless water heater is an energy-efficient heat pump technology that heats water only when it is needed. Tankless water heaters provide hot water immediately, unlike a tank water heater that stores hot water in a tank with a limited volume. It does not have a tank to store the heated water, hence the name “tankless.” This type of water heater is also known as a demand or instantaneous water heater.
It heats water only when the tap is turned on, not in advance. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water passes through the tankless heater, gets heated, and goes into your sink or shower. Therefore, a tankless water heating unit is much more efficient than a conventional one that heats water all day long.
For commercial companies, installing many tankless heaters on the premises is common and actually less expensive. They provide quick hot water and are better for the environment because they eliminate standby losses from storage tanks that constantly heat unused water.
How Water Gets Heated in a Tankless Water Heater
A tankless water heater has four main parts: the gas burner, the heat exchanger, the flow sensor and the electronic controller.
When you turn on a tankless water heater, a small amount of natural gas flows from your home’s main supply through the burner and into the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is a long metal tube filled with hundreds of tiny copper tubes. The burner ignites at about 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit and heats the copper tubes.
Cold water gets in through one end of the heat exchanger and flows down through the copper tubes. It undergoes indirect heating because there isn’t direct contact between your water and the hot surface. Some tankless models use an electric element to heat water instead of natural gas. In either case, once your water reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s ready to flow out into your faucet.
At that point, a flow sensor checks to see if there’s enough water flowing through the pipes. This way, you don’t have to wait until an entire tank has heated up before you get hot water. After the water demand has been fulfilled, the heater turns off, and the heat exchanger cools down.
There are two basic types of tankless systems: on-demand and continuous flow. The demand type units produce hot water only when a faucet is running or a shower valve is open. These units can be installed indoors or outdoors and are used for home spas, outdoor kitchens and hydronic commercial heating systems. Continuous-flow units produce hot water all the time without regard to whether the faucet or the valves are open.
Advantages of Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless units do not store hot water. They create it when needed, which saves energy and money because the energy expended to sustain the temperature isn’t wasted.
Tankless water heaters provide endless hot water, which is great for commercial heating due to efficiency and the reduction of utility bills.
Tankless water heaters are suitable for homes with limited space for water storage and areas with high water consumption rates.
They offer unlimited hot water. A tankless water heater doesn’t store hot water. Instead, it heats cold water as it’s required, so you can use as much hot water as you want without running out.
Tankless water heaters provide hot water at a set temperature. Unlike traditional storage water heaters, they ensure a constant hot water supply. The best ones have a high recovery rate of around 90-95%, which means you never run out of hot water.
They’re quieter than conventional storage tank heaters. Tankless water heaters don’t need to operate constantly (like traditional storage tank heaters), so they’re able to recover quickly from surges in demand for hot water and work quietly when not in use.
The space-saving design makes tankless water heaters ideal for situations where the available area is limited. Most of them fit into a small storage compartment, which means they can be installed almost anywhere in your home.
Disadvantages of Using Tankless Water Heaters
There is a high initial cost. Tankless systems can be more expensive than traditional storage tank systems because they require more installation work.
Tankless systems don’t store any hot water, which means the only way to get hot water is to produce it. It could create problems in areas with significantly cold weather or in households with several people who like a lot of hot water at once.
Another common problem with a tankless water heater is sediment buildup. It happens when minerals in the water build up inside the pipes and heating chamber. As a result, you might experience a drop in water pressure, and the water might be cloudy or brownish. You can try to flush out the system by running lots of hot water through it, but a commercial HVAC technician should do that for you. If you’re located in or near Glendale, AZ, Christian Brothers Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electrical can handle this task.
Taller buildings tend to have more problems with tankless water heaters, mainly because they need more electricity to run. The unit works by constantly extracting small amounts of electricity (to keep the element hot) even when no one uses hot water. The amount of electricity needed can be two times as much as a tank-type system, which means that tankless systems require specialized electrical wiring, and that may or may not be available in your building.
Basic Maintenance Requirements for Your Tankless Water Heater
Your tankless water heater has an air filter that needs to be cleaned every year or two. It is a straightforward process that you can do yourself. Just open up your unit, remove the filter, and clean it with warm soapy water or vinegar.
When you’re dealing with a tankless water heater, you must periodically flush the system. This is important for several reasons, including preventing the buildup of sediment and calcium deposits. Cleaning the system on your tankless water heater is a simple and necessary process that helps keep your unit running smoothly. Some manufacturers and HVAC companies recommend that you clean it regularly, at least once or twice a year.
Turning off the valves attached to the water heater is an essential step in the process. To do this, turn off the gas valve and the cold-water supply valve. This ensures that if anything happens while you are working on your heater, it won’t cause any major damage or start a fire.
Your Local Experts
If you would like to know more about tankless water heaters, consult with us at Christian Brothers Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electrical located in Glendale, AZ. We install, repair and maintain them. The same applies to our full line of HVAC, plumbing and electrical service offerings. We’ve been assisting the people of this area since 1976, and our team consistently produces conscientious results. Call us today to schedule your appointment or request more information.