Frequently Asked Questions about Tankless Water Heaters

What is a tankless water heater?

A tankless water heater heats up your water on an “as needed” basis. The traditional tank water heater collects water in a tank in your basement, closet or garage where it heats and reheats gallons of water even when hot water isn't needed.  

Are they dangerous?

When properly used and maintained, tankless water heaters are no more dangerous than your existing water heating system. The gas and propane systems do use a live flame, but it’s no different than a gas stove using a pilot light. 

Where can they be installed?

This depends on the type of tankless water heater you buy. Many electric units are small, point-of-use units and are small enough that they can be installed right under the sink, but gas or propane units need more room because they have burners and vents to consider. Also, whole house systems (gas or electric) typically are the size of a medium-sized suitcase and would typically be installed where you currently have your water heater. 

How much do they cost?

Prices vary between hundreds and thousands, but compared to the top traditional tank water heaters on the market, the prices are about the same. Federal Tax Credits are available for certain units and can reduce the price by as much as 30 percent.

Why might they cost more than traditional tank water heating systems?

Supply and demand and more efficient technology. Remember that replacing a tank with a tankless system can mean up to a $100/year savings. When you look at the five- or ten-year cost of owning a tankless water system versus a traditional water heating system, the tankless version is much cheaper. Then add on top those savings the reality that a tankless system, well-maintained can last up to 20 plus years where as a typical tank unit only lasts 9-12 years.

How do you save money with a tankless water heater?

For one, the unit itself lasts 20+ years. That’s twice as long as a water tank. Tankless water heaters also use less energy, and this means a much more affordable bill every month. Multiply those savings by 12 months a year, and that’s why tankless water heaters are so affordable in the long run.

Can I install it and forget it or does it need to have some maintenance? 

Like a traditional tank system which should be drained once per year along with the occasional replacement of the heating rods, especially in hard water locations, tankless systems should be flushed at least once per year. A plumber will charge from $80-$150 to do it, or you can do this yourself with the right materials, such as Whitlam’s Flow-aide System Descaler Kit or the Tankless Water Heater Flushing Kit by My PlumbingStuff.

Read more about DIY Flush and Descaler Kits...

How can I get started on researching to find the best system for me? 

The first two things you will want to do are: 1) know your fuel source, what you will use to heat your water (electricity, natural gas or propane) and 2) determine your flow rate, which is the Gallons per Minute (GPM) needs you have in your home.

You will need to know the general temperature of the water coming into your home as this will help you determine the correct GPM and, therefore, the right size system for you. Cooler climates will have lower GPM because the temperature rise from the incoming water to 120 degrees Fahrenheit requires more effort on the part of the tankless water heater. Begin your research from our home page and then visit our Quick Comparison page to see our top rated tankless systems. 

  1. I currently have two 75 gal tank water heater. One is not working properly. Can I replace it with tankless? Can one tank water heater working with one tankless? Thank for your reply.

    • You should be able to replace any tank water heater with a tankless unit that fits your gallons per minute (GPM) requirements. I’m assuming that the tankless water heater would not be serving the same water sources as the other 75 gallon tank water heater. If you have propane or natural gas heating your water, the transition to tankless should be smooth. However, if you heat your water with electricity, then installing a tankless will likely require you to upgrade your amps and the gauge of the wire to the electric tankless unit. Hope that helps.

      TanklessHub Editor

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