What is a Tankless Water Heater?

Tankless water heaters are one of the latest inventions to become popular in modern homes. There are many benefits to these appliances. At Terry’s Plumbing, we’ve started seeing more of these heaters in homes around Pittsburgh. Knowing the advantages, disadvantages and the details of the way these appliances function can help you decide whether or not tankless water heaters are for you.

All About Water Heaters (With and Without Tanks)

To understand tankless water heaters, it helps to know how a traditional water heater works. A traditional water heater is a large tank designed to hold between 30 and 50 gallons of water. Heating elements inside the tank keep the water warm at all times, to ensure that hot water is available on demand.

As you might imagine, tankless water heaters have no tank and hold no water. Heating elements inside these heaters produce warm water only when the hot water faucet is turned on.

Advantages of Tankless Water Heaters

You might be asking yourself, what’s the big deal? Why get a water heater that has no tank?

  • Smaller: Tankless water heaters don’t rely on a large water tank to function, so they do their job without taking up a lot of space in the house.
  • Continuous supply: Traditional water heaters can run out of hot water. When this happens, the tank must be refilled and the water must be warmed up before warm water will be available again. This is not true of tankless water heaters, which provide a never-ending supply of hot water.
  • Lower operational costs. Traditional water heaters need to run periodically throughout the day in order to keep the water in the unit hot. Tankless units only run when the hot water is called to the faucet, so they cost less to run.
  • Environmentally friendly. Tankless units use less energy and are better for the environment.
  • Can be stored outdoors. In Pittsburgh, traditional water heaters need to be stored indoors, but tankless water heaters can be stored inside or outside. This saves space, which can be helpful in smaller homes and apartments.
  • No chance of a giant flood. Perhaps the biggest downside of a traditional water heater is the chance that the unit will fail. As you may know, normal water heaters tend to flood homes when they die. Tankless water heaters last longer and don’t leak water everywhere when they finally reach the end of their service life.

Some of the Cons

Tankless water heaters aren’t for everybody. Some of their disadvantages include higher purchase costs and higher cost of installation. In homes with traditional water heaters, conversion to a tankless unit can be pricey. This up-front investment can be a deterrent for homeowners on a budget. Fortunately for homeowners who can’t afford a tankless unit, traditional tank water heaters are still a practical solution.

Maintenance Needs

Some homeowners may have heard that tankless water heaters require no regular maintenance. This is not really true. Tankless water heaters should be cleaned periodically to prevent scale from building up on the heating elements. Below is a video that demonstrates this relatively easy process.

Contact Terry’s Plumbing

Interested in installing a tankless water heater in your home? Contact Terry’s Plumbing today. We sell plumbing supplies and perform installations. Whether your water heater needs to be serviced or replaced, we can help. Call us today at (412) 364-9114.