Most people think of water heaters as large, round cylinders that are tucked away in basements and garages. They’re full of water that stays hot, waiting for you to need it for your dishes, shower, or anything else where it’s required. While those are still the most common option for hot water in your home, there are also tankless water heaters which are becoming more popular in houses all over the country. Here’s what you should know before deciding if a tankless water heater is right for you.
How Does a Tankless Water Heater Work?
When you turn on the tap for hot water in your home, a flow sensor in the tankless water heater detects that water is making its way into the heater. Once that water is detected, the control panel is signaled to heat the water. Gas-powered units will then start up a fan to bring in air, open the gas valve, and ignite the burner. At that point, the heat exchanger collects the heat that’s coming from the flames and uses it to heat the water moving through the tubes.
Because the water is superheated very quickly by the exchanger, there’s also a mixing valve that tempers the water to make it safe when it comes out of the tap. Then the temperature sensor determines whether the water is too hot or too cold, and adjusts the valves within the heater to correct the temperature and flow of water. The result provides comfort and safety, so you can have instant hot water at the temperature you’re expecting, and you won’t run out of it.
Where Can You Get a Tankless Water Heater?
Getting a tankless water heater is easy, because they can be purchased at home improvement stores nearly everywhere. But you really should get one from a reputable company that handles these kinds of water heaters, and that can install it for you properly. It needs to be integrated into your home’s plumbing in the right place, and because it will need electricity and gas to it, it’s definitely not the kind of project you want to try to do by yourself.
By working with an installation company for your water heater, you can have the peace of mind that you’ll have hot water anytime you need it, and it won’t run out in the middle of a load of laundry, a dishwasher cycle, or a shower. Whether you live alone and want instant hot water, or you have a big family and your standard water heater just isn’t giving you what you need, getting a tankless option can be an excellent choice. Of course, you also want to work with the company that installs your heater for maintenance and any needed repairs.
What if Your Tankless Water Heater Freezes?
Most of the time you won’t have to give any extra thought to your tankless water heater, because it will simply work behind the scenes without any issue. Just like with any appliance, though, something can go wrong, and that could include the water heater freezing. Since you need to correct that problem to get your hot water back, understanding how to unfreeze a tankless water heater can be very important.
Freezing can cause harm to a tankless water heater, so you want to act quickly. You should turn off the valves for the gas and water to the heater, and also turn off the electricity to it at the breaker. Let the system thaw, and then try opening the supply valve to see if water flows freely. Look for leaks and make sure there aren’t any before turning the heater back on. It’s important to have a professional take a careful look at the heater and assess what caused the problem, to reduce the chances of it happening again.
Is a Tankless Water Heater Right for You?
Whether a tankless water heater is right for your needs is a very personal decision. There are pros and cons to heating your water this way, and working with the pros can give you the information you need to make a knowledgeable determination. Then you’ll have peace of mind, hot water when you want it, and the confidence that you made the right choice.