If you’re thinking of updating your house to be more energy-efficient, whether to save money or save the environment, you should consider a tankless water heater installation. It is a wise investment that can save you time, space, and no small amount of cash. But before taking the plunge — especially if you’re considering a DIY tankless water heater — here are a few things you should know.
What is a Tankless Water Heater?
Classic water heaters are large tanks that heat water slowly and then store it, ready to use. Tankless units are just that: tankless. Instead of storing already heated water, they heat up water only as needed, either through an electric element or via a gas connection. Using their flow sensing devices, the tankless units are only in use when the hot water is turned on, turning off when they no longer need to be working.
Why Install One?
Perhaps the most obvious draw of a tankless water heater installation is the promise of unlimited hot water. Unlike typical water heaters, these units aren’t dependent on a certain tank size. Any time that the hot water is turned on, the system heats only the amount of water necessary, no more and no less. This also translates to a lower overall cost. With a traditional tank, homeowners are paying to heat water that they’re not using.
Tankless units are especially practical for the homeowner looking to save some real estate with their square footage. For smaller homes or those with limited storage, a tankless water heater could mean the difference between a half bath or a full. And, along with these other benefits, the tankless water heater is a better choice for the environment as well, with its energy efficiency and small physical footprint.
Tankless Water Heater Installation
Before ripping out your old unit and installing a brand new tankless water heater, there are some considerations to be taken. First and foremost: This is not a beginner’s project. A tankless water heater install requires a lot of tools, skills, and time to make sure it’s done properly and safely. Before deciding to do it yourself, shop around a little bit. Contact a local expert and get a quote. Sometimes it’s actually more cost-efficient to hire someone to do it for you than it is to buy the necessary equipment, learn the techniques, and take the time to install it yourself. The most successful homeownership is finding the balance between doing it yourself and knowing when to bring in outside help.
DIY Step By Step
If you’ve decided to take on the task yourself, here is a basic guide to installing your own tankless water heater:
- Disconnect and remove your old water heater. Besides turning off the water, you’ll need to turn off the gas and power before completely draining the tank of all water and removing it from the space.
- Chances are the new water heater will need a larger gas line than your traditional tank used. You will need to get the correct width and length in order for the line to reach from the water heater to the gas meter.
- Install new hot and cold water lines that will connect to your home’s existing water lines. You can use a copper pipe to run the new lines to the water heater. Once the lines are tied, make sure to securely fasten your pipe against the wall with bell hangers before soldering the pipes together.
- Make sure to mount your tankless water heater about four inches from the wall. You can use 2X4’s to build a mount to hang the heater on. Ensure that the location is somewhere that ventilation won’t be a problem.
- Once securely in place, connect the water heater to your gas line. Make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully in regards to the plumbing and piping of the equipment. Fasten securely and then check for any leaks.
- Make sure that the tankless unit is close to a good ventilation spot, and then install the vent. If an exhaust hole isn’t already there, make sure to check for wiring before cutting into your walls.
- Turn her on! Once everything is set up, try it out and make sure everything is running smoothly. Check for leaks and make sure the water runs hot.
- Insulate the piping and wires, replace any shingles or drywall that needs patching, and stand back to admire your handy work.
Tankless water heaters can be an expensive and time-consuming investment, especially if you install it yourself. But the long term benefits of this new water heater, including financial savings, space savings, and environmental savings, should make it a strong consideration when the time comes to replace your current tank.