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Tankless Water Heater FAQ: Learn More Before Installation

Are you thinking about installing a tankless water heater? If so, it always pays to do some information-gathering before you buy. Below, we’ve put together some of the top questions we receive from homeowners looking to install their very first tankless water heater.

Which is cheaper: a tankless water heater or a storage tank water heater?

Storage tank water heaters are cheaper to purchase (regardless of fuel type) than tank water heaters. However, tankless models run more efficiently than storage tank models of the same fuel type, as demonstrated by rigorous Consumer Reports testing.

Here’s a more concrete idea of what that looks like. Based on an average price of $10.86 per 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas, Consumer Reports experts calculated the following:

  • The annual operating cost for a gas storage tank water heater is $245.
  • The annual operating cost for a gas tankless water heater is $195.

Also keep in mind that tankless water heaters last longer than storage tank water heaters, giving you more time to rack up utility savings.

How long do tankless water heaters last?

Tankless water heaters have a life expectancy of at least 20 years, according to the Department of Energy. This is substantially longer than traditional, storage tank water heaters, which last around 10 to 15 years.

Should I get an electric or gas tankless water heater?

Tankless water heaters come in natural gas, propane, and electric models, so it’s up to you which type to install. There are some cost factors to consider when making your decision. Gas tankless water heaters tend to have a higher price tag upfront. Furthermore, if you need to install gas lines, the installation costs can be very expensive.

That being said, the price of gas is generally lower in most towns than the price of electricity, so by opting for gas over electric, you could save on your utility costs in the long run. Also, gas tankless water heaters are more powerful than electric water heaters, so if you live in an area with cold groundwater, like the Midwest or the Northeastern United States, you should probably consider a gas model.

Will I be able to use hot water for more than one thing at a time?

Even if your tankless water heater has a high flow rate, using hot water at multiple locations (a shower, a sink, and the dishwasher) at the same time can overwhelm the equipment. If you plan on using a lot of hot water in more than one place at a time, you may want to consider installing two tankless water heaters and having one dedicated to your water-using appliances.

Does a tankless water heater need maintenance?

Just like a storage tank water heater, a tankless water heater can suffer from scale buildup. Flush it every 6 to 12 months with a distilled white vinegar solution to break down the hard minerals, and have a professional clean the components and check the burners every 1 to 2 years.

If you would like more information about upgrading to a tankless water heater, our friendly experts at HVAC & Plumbing Unlimited are happy to help! Give us a call at (703) 454-5040 or contact us online.