While most people are accustomed to having a water heater tank, the big round thing that is usually in your basement, or the mechanical room for those who live in a region of the country where basements are common, newer construction may have a tankless water heater. If your water heater is older than 10 years old, it's probably time to start planning for a new one before disaster happens. But should you go with the traditional kind or a new one? Here's a look at the advantages and disadvantages of both.
How Does Each One Work?
A traditional water heater is a tank that holds anywhere from 20 to 80 gallons of water. It may be heated by electricity, natural gas, or propane. The water stays constantly hot and is ready to use anytime you turn on the tap, whether it's to wash dishes, laundry, or take a shower. The water replenishes and reheats once you use it. A tankless water heater uses electricity, gas, or propane to heat the water on an as-needed basis instead of constantly keeping it hot in a storage tank.
Which One Is Better?
The answer depends on your needs and will be different for everyone. A traditional water heater tank requires less money initially. It's also a straight forward replacement installation; your plumber drains and removes the old one, and then hooks up a new one in its place.
But the way a traditional water heater works is by keeping the water constantly heated to a set temperature. This isn't a very energy efficient method because chances are, you won't constantly be in need of hot water. A traditional heater may also be insufficient for larger families. No one enjoys a cold shower, but if the tank size is inadequate and multiple people are showering every morning, someone is going to end up with one. If you get a larger tank, you may solve this problem, but then you are paying more to keep more heated water on standby. A traditional water heater also only lasts for 15 years maximum, and if it breaks before you replace it, you could potentially end up with a miniature flood on your hands.
A tankless water heater requires a more expensive initial outlay, both for the unit itself and the installation and retrofitting. But it will also provide energy savings overtime and is the "green" answer. A tankless water heater also takes up less room and doesn't run the risk of causing water damage should it fail.
A tankless water heater works by heating cold water as it passes through a heating element. This means it needs venting. It's also possible to overwhelm the system by using hot water for more than one purpose at a time.
When it comes time to get a new water heater, consult a professional, licensed plumber from companies like Cove Plumbing Inc to come and audit your needs and see what is the best solution for you.