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Tankless Water heater....


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Don's Forum Posts: 15

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By Don in ID on 12/6/2004


I want to put in one of these systems, since they are so efficient, reliable, and save space.

Does anyone have any experience with them? Also, I would like to run some hydronic/PEX line under my master bath for radiant heat using one of these. Does anyone have any input on this?

Thanks in advance,

Don


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 12/10/2004


I really wish I could get some objective feedback on this topic. There have been some discussions in the past, but the loop is never closed about how well they work, benefits, shortcomings, etc. in practical application.

I intend to use a Takagi TKD-20 tankless water heater, but simply don't know anyone with direct experience with this or any other (we can easily get the AquaStar locally, but I don't know anyone who has one, and my plumber doesn't know anyone who has installed one either). I don't mind parting with traditional views, but I also don't like to be the guinea pig either.

I know they have been used in Europe for decades, but this is little solace when they simply aren't used here. Why not? Our building trades are very slow to change and accept new concepts. As an example, ICF has been around for at least 30 years, and my building department still has probably only seen a handful of these. Another example is light-gauge steel framing for residential. This was started following WWII as a low-cost alternative to meet the housing needs of returning GIs, and it is still rare to see steel-framed houses 50 years later. But we continue to get stick-built junk.

Sorry I can't help you more objectively. From a conceptual standpoint, I am concerned about hardness of the water. Around here, tank-type water heaters fail because of lime buildup, and when you replace them they have a lot of lime in them. This is a function of the calcium coming out of solution when the water is heated. This function will still happen with the tankless units only there is now no reservoir to hold the lime. I intend to combat this by softening the water prior to heating (and only the to-be-heated water; no calcium problems in cold water system). Once again, I don't know if this is a real issue or just something I have in my head as a potential problem, as I can get no unbiased feedback from direct experience with this equipment.


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By Jon in Olathe, KS on 12/10/2004


I thought I read that the water doesn't actual sit in the heater when the hot water is not on. Now I can't imagine that there wouldn't be some hard water deposits left in the heater. However, most will leave the heater with the hot water as evidenced by the build-up on shower doors. 

The AquaStar comes with, I think, a 10-year warranty, so that makes me think hard water deposits can't be too much of an issue?


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 12/10/2004


You are correct there. The water doesn't sit in the tankless hot water heater. It is instead passing through and flash heated, which is why the BTU rating is so high - the Takagi I am looking at is 186K BTU. This is also why retrofitting one is so expensive. They need a larger gas line and exhaust vent.  In new construction, this obviously isn't an issue.

But you bring up an interesting point - the calcium deposit itself is a function of heating the water, but the buildup in the HWH tank is a function of allowing it time to settle out in the tank. I never thought of it that way, perhaps this isn't a problem for the tankless units for this reason.

However, all of that calcium has to go somewhere. The PEX I will be using is not supposed to be subject to calcium deposits, I guess that means it comes out the faucet. Hmmm, I'm not sure that is any better, although it should not adversely impact maintenance of the tankless unit.

Thank you for this observation. It is something I had completely overlooked and not thought through sufficiently.


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By Don in Agoura, CA on 12/10/2004


My thought is, this is precipitation of the calcium as calcium carbonate from the water. Very little water will sit in the PEX and tankless, so large grains should not form. PEX should be non-reactive with the calcium carbonate, so it won't stick to the PEX. So, the question is then will large enough grains form that could clog aerators or faucets? I would hope not. although apparently this happened in this city.

needhamma.gov

I hope no one is actually concerned about this, but if you do happen to drink the precipitate, calcium carbonate is harmless; it is the active ingredient in Tums.

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By Rena on 12/19/2004


I went to Lowe's recently and started inquiring about the tankless electrical heater. We got pretty friendly with the salesman, and he told us that he has one and loves it. The only problem is that when you have an electricity blackout and happen to be taking a shower, your hot water also becomes very cold at once. Which is okay, unless you are washing your hair. He said he can take a shower and run a dishwasher or laundry, but cannot do all three tasks at the same time. I will do more research into this as we are interested in getting one.

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By Jon in Olathe, KS on 12/20/2004


That is why I would get a gas or propane heater.
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By Jeff in Henderson, NV on 12/20/2004


Most of the new models I've looked at (AquaStar) have electric igniters in the gas/propane models, so unless the water was already running, it sounds like you would likely lose hot water when the power is out even with gas/propane.

They used to have pilots, but all the new ones I have seen have the electric igniters.

-Jeff


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By Peter in Gilford, NH on 12/31/2004


I went to the local plumbing supply house, where they are doing the PEX design for me (for free) and I asked about using a tankless water heater. They said it does provide an endless supply of hot water, but the units are not as efficient as some of the newer technologies. They suggested that I look into the latest generation of boilers that now have technology to control the amount of flame generated. The claim is that old boilers are either on full-time or off. The new generation can control the amount of flame, making them more efficient.

I haven't had time to research their claims yet, but will post when I find out.


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By Don in ID on 12/31/2004


In my company I work with boilers every day. Driveway snow-melt systems, etc. are EXPENSIVE and break down A LOT. Further, it's not the type of 'simple item' that just anyone can work on and do it well. It takes someone who knows what they are doing and has experience.

There is my two cents on that.


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By Rena on 1/1/2005


I agree with Don. I think right now we are producing "new innovative" products just to appease the EPA, without adequate thought to the consumer side. As many of the products are not properly tested, I am also finding that they are not the greatest with a lot of problems and without any qualified technical support.

I am always looking for new or old ways to save fuel=money. I do think that we will be facing some shortages (artificially created) and some higher fuel costs. My husband always wants to have at least one wood stove in the house and a sharp chainsaw.

I think in the future we will have to start building smaller houses as they do in Europe and better built houses. I am sad when I see the new monsters coming up in Maryland with the cheapest windows and just the bare minimum to pass the inspection. Talking about energy loss, we know people who are paying $600-$700 in fuel bills (oil) and the house is cold.


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By Karla in Silver Springs, NV on 1/8/2005


I believe that some models have "piezo ignition", which, at least on the propane heaters that I've looked at, indicates that they will work even when the power is out. I would think that this type of ignition would allow the gas tankless water heater to work even when the power was out.

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By Terry in Alexandria, PA on 1/24/2005


I used to live in a house with a tankless water heater and I have to say that it worked very well (I can't remember what company made the thing). It was a small, well-insulated house and utilities were very low. One issue though, and I suppose this could happen with any manufacturer. One day it started leaking a few drops of water out of the bottom. I took the cover off and discovered a small flame, similar to the size of flame produced by a lighter, shooting out the side of a valve mechanism. I called the gas company, and they told me not to light any flames or use electrical appliances, get out of the house immediately, and shut off the main gas valve into the house. They sent someone right over who repaired the unit. Apparently, it's not unheard of for this valve mechanism to start a fire.
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