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Choosing a Tankless Hot Water Heater

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Mike in California wants to talk about tankless water heaters. But, Mike, on the little note I get from our call center, it says that your wife is due with a baby any minute. What gives?

    MIKE: That’s true. Actually, we were due yesterday, so (laughing) could be any minute now.

    TOM: Mike, are you standing by with a catcher’s mitt on?

    MIKE: I’m ready to roll. (laughing)

    TOM: Alright. (laughing)

    MIKE: Yeah, I do have a question on tankless water heaters. Because right now we’re running two 50-gallon LT tanks; one on either side of the house. And the one side of the house that I’m considering replacing, runs all of my major appliances that have the highest water usage. And my questions regarding that are if there’s a particular brand that you guys have experienced that have, I guess, a lower failure rate. Because I’ve heard about a number of brands – specifically, Noritz is one of them – but also, whether or not that’s something that, if you’re handy, if you can do yourself. Because I’m getting a lot of push back from the plumbing companies about venting and the settings and that type of thing.

    TOM: Yeah, you know, it’s not a good idea to become a do-it-yourself tankless water heater installer. (laughing) You know, it can be pretty complicated. And it sounds to me like, Mike, you’re going to have enough complications in your life in the next couple of months (chuckling) with a baby due any minute now, literally.

    MIKE: Uh-huh.

    TOM: But it is a good idea because tankless water heaters really heat water on demand. So they’re not storing hot water; therefore, you’re not paying for water … to heat water that you’re not really going to use.

    MIKE: Right.

    TOM: In terms of the brands, I don’t think that tankless water heaters have been out long enough for us to develop a real strong repair history. One of the more popular ones is Rinnai and they have a great website – it’s foreverhotwater.com – that fills you in on what size water heater you need based on how many bathrooms in your house. And the one thing that I do like about them, especially with kids on the way, is they have a remote control panel that you could mount, say, someplace that’s accessible. Like, typically, you’d have the water heater in your utility room or your basement but you could have this control panel in the kitchen. And if you wanted to dial the temperature of the water from, say, 115 degrees down to a 105 degrees – because maybe one of your children is up … going to take a shower by themselves or something like that and you want to make sure they can’t scald themselves – you could control the water that quickly. Just by quickly dialing it down, it instantly changes the temperature of the water. You’ve got a really nasty set of dishes that you have to clean; maybe you want to step it up a little bit.

    So it’s very convenient. It is more expensive than a tanked water heater but, I think, in the long run it’s going to give you a better return on investment. It’s certainly going to be a lot more convenient to use. But I don’t think it’s a do-it-yourself installation. I would definitely hire a pro for that.

    MIKE: Okay. Alright, great.

    TOM: Alright, well …

    LESLIE: Hey, good luck with the baby.

    TOM: Yeah.

    MIKE: Thank you very much.

    TOM: Good luck with the baby.

    MIKE: Alrighty.

    TOM: Thanks again for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. I don’t think Mike had much time to hang out and chat.

    LESLIE: Yeah, Mike’s like, “I want this question answered but I’m also keeping a close eye on my wife.” (laughing) “And I’m boiling water as we speak.” I don’t know what it’s for but I’ve always seen that on TV shows.

    TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

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