According to industry experts, the average life expectancy of a tank-style hot water heater is usually somewhere between 8 and 12 years. Some of the most common reasons to replace them include corroded or leaking tanks, issues with the ignition system (gas models only) or heating elements (electric models), lengthening water heating times or other types of efficiency or cost-of-operation issues.
With the increasing popularity of tankless water heaters, many homeowners may be considering making the switch when their current tank-style water heater is ready to be replaced. If you are one of these homeowners, this information will help answer your questions about tankless water heaters and improve your experience in using one.
Gas or electric?
When considering moving to a tankless water heater, homeowners will first have to decide whether a gas or electric model will work best for their needs. Homes that already use natural gas or liquid petroleum (LP) may find that plumbing an additional gas line to power a tankless water heater is a no-brainer. It is important to remember, however, that tankless gas water heaters will also require the installation of a vent for safe operation.
Homeowners who want to install a tankless water heater in an area that will be difficult to vent or those who do not currently have gas service in their home may find it simpler to install an electric-powered tankless water heater. In addition to the fact that tankless electric water heaters do not need to be vented, they are also typically smaller in size, less expensive to purchase, and easier to install and service.
What about hard water?
When tankless water heaters first became available, issues with mineral buildup due to hard water were fairly common. Design changes and the ability to flush these appliances easily to clear mineral accumulations have resolved those issues and made them more reliable for use in residential homes. In fact, according to the United States Department of Energy's consumer energy information site, tankless water heaters, also called on-demand water heaters, are currently expected to last 20 years or more.
Are they efficient?
Increased efficiency that results in lower water heating costs is probably the most compelling factor for installing a tankless water heater. If the correct model is selected and installed, based on household usage and family size, a tankless water heater can be expected to range from 8 to 50 percent more efficient than a traditional tank-style water heater.
Before making your decision on whether switching to a tankless water heater is right for you, contact a reputable plumbing contractor in your area who can offer you more specific information and advice.