Water Heater FAQ How Do Tankless Systems Really Work?

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For many decades, all water heaters operated on this same basic principle: a storage tank holds a supply of water, and the heat applied to this water (from gas jets or electric heating elements) raises its temperature. Whenever a tap calls for hot water, the water heater pumps a supply from the tank, while energy continues to heat up more water to replace the amount used. Although this means immediate hot water available, the system has drawbacks: running out of hot water before a sufficient new amount is heated up, and wasting a large amount of energy to standby heat loss and the need to keep the water continually heated.

A new technology, tankless water heaters, now competes with the old storage systems. Sometimes called “on-demand” water heaters, these systems only heat up water as it is needed, so they will not run out of hot water and use less energy. They also last, on average, 10 years longer than storage water heaters. We’ll explain how these tankless heaters operate.

Call Bell Plumbing and Heating for information about tankless water heater installation, as well as any maintenance or water heater repair you need in Greenwood Village, CO.

The basics of tankless systems

Tankless water heaters use a powerful heat exchanger to raise the temperature of water, either through electricity or a natural gas burner. (There are also some propane models.) The water in your hot water pipes runs through this heat exchanger, which activates as soon as it detects the flow of water. When a hot water tap turns on, the water in the pipes begins to move, and either the electrical coils or the gas burners turn on and the heat exchanger transfers their heat to the water in the pipes. Presto! Hot water on demand—and only as much as you need. Once the demand for hot water stops and water no longer flows through the heat exchanger, the gas jets or electric coils shut off.

There are two basic tankless models: a point-of-use heater and a whole-house heater. Point-of-use heaters work for a single water outlet, such as a shower head, while whole-house systems are larger and can take care of more than one faucet at a time. Whole-house heaters tend to use natural gas, while point-of-use heaters are usually electric.

The type of tankless water heater that will work for your home depends on a number of factors. And, despite their many advantages, tankless systems are not the ideal choice for every home. You should consult with a water heater specialist to analyze how much hot water you use and if you will receive the full benefits of a tankless system.

Regardless of what type of water heater you have in your home, you will need to have it regularly maintained and occasionally repaired. Bell Plumbing and Heating can take care of the necessary maintenance and water heater repair in Greenwood Village, CO. Call us to consult about tankless water heater installation as well.

I’ve heard on-demand or point-of-use tankless water heaters are more efficient. Should I replace my traditional tank water heater? This depends on a few different factors, notably cost and the overall quantity of hot water you use on a daily basis. Tankless water heaters tend to cost more money upfront, but they do tend to save customers money in the long-run. Replacement may also depend upon the integrity of your current water heater, whether it needs major repair, and how long it will last.

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