The Biggest Problems with Tankless Hot Water Heaters

Why you should do your research before making the investment

Hot water heaters are an essential part of everyday life, but they work in the background and rarely receive any thought until something goes wrong.

When it’s time to replace a hot water heater, many people consider going tankless. But, are instantaneous hot water heaters really all they’re cracked up to be? There are some pretty significant problems that you should be aware of before you go all in on tankless.

First, let’s take a quick look at some of the pros of tankless hot water heaters.

Where Going Tankless Could Make Sense

  1. They are more energy efficient than the traditional hot water heater. Because tankless water heaters don’t have gallons upon gallons of water that need to be kept hot at all times, you can save a great deal on both water and electricity. Most of them run on either propane or natural gas.
  2. The tankless option provides hot water whenever you want it. Once they get going, the hot water never diminishes. You could fill a pool with warm water if you really wanted to!
  3. They take up less space. Unlike the gigantic tanks that lurk in closets or corners, a tankless hot water heater is a much smaller device that takes up very little room.
  4. Longer life expectancy. Where traditional tanks frequently come with six to nine year warranties, most instantaneous hot water heaters have up to 15 year warranties.

Sure. There are some great benefits to tankless hot water heaters, but the cons may outweigh them. We’ll let you decide!

The Biggest Problems with Tankless Hot Water Heaters

Mineralization Problems

Mineral build up can completely destroy a tankless hot water heater. It’s essential to do regular flushes each month and keep up on maintenance to prevent mineral build up, especially if you have hard water. Not worried because you have a warranty? Buyer, beware – Lime and scale build up inside a tankless heater will probably make you ineligible to use it.

Longer Wait Time, Limited Supply & Cold-Water Sandwiches

Because there is no reserve of hot water, tankless heaters take significantly longer to deliver hot water than regular tanks. This delay can be frustrating at times, especially for those who are used to the quick delivery of hot water from traditional hot water tanks. After all, when you’re ready for a shower, you don’t want to stand there waiting.

While a tankless hot water heater can supply one shower with endless hot water, the capacity is usually limited to just one faucet. Do a load of laundry while you’re taking a shower and a tankless heater will have a hard time producing enough hot water to supply both.

Because of how tankless water heaters actually heat the water, what is referred to as a ‘cold-water sandwich’ may occur. And, this one isn’t very appetizing. Imagine you’re doing dishes. When you initially turn on the water it will be cold. As the faucet continues to run, the water heats up and you’re in good shape. You’re getting those dishes sparkling clean and the phone rings. You turn the faucet off and take your call. After hanging up you’re ready to resume dishwashing, so you turn on the faucet. The initial burst of water is hot, and then suddenly it gets cold. It takes a few more minutes for the hot water to get back to you. That, is a cold-water sandwich and can be highly annoying.

More Can Go Wrong Than Right

With so many wires and small parts, tankless hot water heaters can have a long list of possible problems. The air supply and specialized exhausts have a tendency to get blocked, which usually makes the device shut down. he pilot light can go out or fail to ignite and the sensors can simply quit working without any explanation.

Furthermore, once something does go wrong, it’s important to get a certified technician to work on the device because anyone else messing around with it could void the warranty or do further damage.

High Cost of Installation and Maintenance

Tankless hot water units are also more expensive than your traditional heaters. Installation by a professional is critical, and not cheap. Tack on regular maintenance (again, performed by a certified professional) and you’ve burned away any extra money you may be saving with the energy efficiency.

Is it Worth It?

A large part of the decision to go tankless will revolve around your needs and values. Is it important to you to conserve water and energy wherever possible? Is cost not an issue? Do you need the extra space taken up by a traditional tank? If the answer to these questions is yes, you may consider installing a tankless hot water heater. If you prefer low maintenance, cost-efficiency and want your hot water as soon as you step in the shower, jumping over the fence to tankless may not be right for you.

If you have any questions about tankless heaters or are concerned about the performance of your current hot water heater, give Home Angels a call. We’d love to help you work out the best choice for your situation and needs.