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Things To Consider Before You Buy A Tankless Water Heater

Carefully plan the location of your new tankless water heater:

Modern power-vent and direct-vent tankless water heaters make on-demand hot water, but they do require more combustion air because these models use an electric fan to add air to the flame which in turn makes much higher BTUs than the traditional tank type heater. Direct-vent models are the latest evolution in this technology.

An EZ Tankless direct vent hot water heater features the latest technology, it is called BEST. (Balanced Exhaust System Technology) A tankless hot water heater needs an ample supply of combustion air. If you want the best one, it should be a direct-vent model that draws the intake combustion air supply from outside the home so as not to disrupt the interior atmosphere of the room in which it is mounted. Keep this in mind that a direct vent tankless heater does not extract air from the home. Therefore, regardless of the efficiency rating of your choice in tankless heater, if it is not a direct-vent model, you must realize that your home will lose heat (and air conditioning) to any tankless model that uses room air for combustion. If your current tank type heater is located in your living space, it also extracts heat from the home. In fact if you look at the top of a typical tank type heater, you will see an air gap between the heater body and the vent hood that leads into the exhaust. This opening is to promote the natural updraft for the exhaust. We all know hot air rises, so just imagine that this opening is always extracting heated air from your home. For this reason the EZTankless direct-vent models with BEST exhaust technology are absolutely the latest and most efficient tankless heaters available and are not extracting heated (or cooled) air from your home. But by design are almost always mounted on an exterior wall to have easy direct access to outside air and an easy and direct exhaust outlet.

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Forming a plan to decide the feasibility of converting to tankless technology:

A person who is contemplating a conversion to a tankless heater should try to logically determine the ideal location of the new heater on an exterior wall (or in close proximity). To do this, the first thing is to “forget about” the location of the old heater for a moment. Simply pretend that there has never been a water heater in your structure. Keeping in mind the previously mentioned exterior wall ventilation criteria, if you were installing a tankless water heater for the first time, where would it be located? (This is not to say that your new tankless heater may be easily located where the old tank type heater was in the past. In fact one of our videos shows a utility/laundry room installation in a one bathroom home in the same location as the original tank type heater.) Often, a home owner or installation person just assumes that they will be using the same space as before. In reality this new technology may be a perfect opportunity to gain some living space as well as improve the plumbing system of the home.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Can the space where the old water heater was located be used more efficiently?
  2. What is the easiest and/or the most practical thing to do?
  3. Note: It is typically much easier to relocate the water lines to accommodate the exhaust and intake supply needs of the new tankless heater than to try to run a convoluted exhaust and air intake piping system which in fact could possibly hinder the efficient operation of the new heater.

    NOTE: Our direct-vent models only vent horizontally. This means the exhaust and air intake pipe is exiting the home (horizontally) through a side wall.

  4. What is the Snow-line at my exhaust/intake wall-exit point? In Areas that get snow accumulations, you must keep in mind that the pipe exiting the home must be well above the maximum snow depth at that outside wall.

Venting notes:

We do not sell tankless water heaters that vent vertically through the roof for some logical reasons.

  1. With a horizontally vented heater you do not need a condensation trap and condensate drain apparatus as the intake/exhaust pipe exits the heater and slopes slightly downhill which will prevent naturally occurring condensation from entering the heater.
  2. In a horizontally vented heater you do not have the possibility of roof leakage where the pipe exits the roof.
  3. Vertically vented heaters typically have complicated rain caps as well.
  4. When you compare vertically vented tankless heaters to our models you will often find that our competitors’ vertically vented products can cost thousands of dollars.
  5. Additionally, most manufacturers do not include the exhaust and intake parts with the price of the heater. They must be ordered and purchased separately. We are EZ Tankless because we offer the most economical and easiest to install systems on the market and we include the standard intake/exhaust components at no additional charge.

About local code and finding a contractor or plumber to install your tankless water heater:

CODES:

Every state and most municipalities have code applications that must be adhered to. It is not possible for any water heater company to track every code, its applications and periodic revisions. For this reason, the first thing a homeowner should do is verify the local and state codes applicable to the installation of the device. This may be easy as the vast majority of plumbers and contractors are familiar with local and state codes as they work within these rules every day. This is the reason that no tankless water heater company endorses installation by anyone other than a licensed professional.

WARNING: For the safety of the homeowner and occupants of the dwelling, it is imperative that any gas-fired device including a tankless heater be properly installed.

Footnote about "code":

To understand how "code" applies to a tankless heater, one must know the differences in technology and how these differences are applicable to these rules (Codes). Generally speaking in relation to code. From oldest to newest technology, there are three basic types of tankless gas-fired hot water heaters.

  1. Natural-Draft in which the exhaust rises through a flue pipe similar to the way in which almost all tank-type heaters are vented. These devices take their combustion air supply from the room in which they are mounted and must adhere to strict code rules.
  2. Power-Vent which will have an electric fan motor that induces forced-air into the combustion process to raise the Btu rating of the heater but also takes the combustion air supply from the room in which it is mounted and must also adhere to strict code rules. (These units typically require even more room air as they usually have much higher Btu ratings.) MODERN "OUTDOOR" tankless heaters are designed for NO-FREEZE ZONES and they typically are power vent models as obviously it is not necessary for them to meet room combustion air supply rules.
  3. Direct-Vent which also has a fan motor to increase the efficiency of combustion and raise Btus but has one very important difference. A Direct-vent model takes it's combustion air from outside the building which does not disrupt the interior atmosphere as well as having no effect on other gas-fired appliances and vice-versa. Almost all experts agree that Direct Vent is the type of system that is best. (The other two technologies are now considered obsolete for whole home use but still do have suitable applications for outdoor use, and in large outbuildings and workshops. Especially where there is not a supply of electricity to power a fan motor.)

We do know that direct-vent models are compliant in more areas as they do not use room air for combustion. (For example, our EZ Deluxe and EZ Ultra models)

All Natural-draft and Power-Vent models must adhere to strict available air supply regulations. (The higher the BTUs of the natural draft device, the bigger the room combustion-air supply requirements.) (Total room space in cubic feet vs. the total combined BTU rating of the heater and all other "fired" devices in the same space.)

CODE CONCLUSION:

As Direct-Vent models do not use room air for combustion, the BTU-Square feet of room space formulas usually do not apply. Our direct-vent models featuring intake/exhaust BEST systems such as our EZ-Deluxe may be more adaptable to your local code and the user has the additional bonus of receiving more hot water within a more accurately controlled temperature range.

INSTALLERS:

Everyone knows that plumbers and contractors charge by the hour and if they are not familiar with a product or procedure, they may have to learn as they work. In fact they may make crucial mistakes that require all or part of the work to be done a second time. If you are the customer who is the first tankless installation for your selected contractor, you may actually be paying for the time spent learning about and experimenting with the installation of your tankless water heater. For this reason it is best to consult your contractor or plumber to find out if they are familiar with tankless technology. If they are not, you may wish to look elsewhere. Maybe your favorite plumber or contractor wants to learn the technology and will work with you on an agreed price to install the heater while acknowledging that you are not responsible for the extra time spent on the “learning curve”? This way you can both do yourselves a favor?

Don't be fooled; This is a step forward in technology and efficient living. For the homeowner, and for the installers:

Not since indoor plumbing replaced the outhouse and electric refrigeration replaced the icebox has such a widespread change come to American households. You may hear negative comments about tankless heaters. It is simple human nature to be reluctant to change old habits. Don’t confuse a contractor’s reluctance to accept inevitable change as a negative opinion directed at tankless water heater technology in general. What you interpret as negativity may simply be inexperience. Again, it is simple human nature that few professionals in any trade will readily admit that they have no experience in an item related to their field of expertise. For these reasons, don’t be surprised that you may find initial negativity as you try to locate an installer. Don’t be discouraged, in any trade there are those who recognize opportunities and immediately jump on board. A good tankless installer is out there and as time goes by they will be more easily found. Every day, more and more contractors are becoming aware of the rapidly expanding tankless installation business. At this time, any plumber who does not seize the opportunity to learn this technology will soon find himself and his company is behind the times.

There are basically three reasons why a contractor would try to convince the homeowner to change their mind about a tankless heater purchase.

  1. they are not familiar with the product and wish to use a conventional tank type heater.
  2. They want to sell you the brand that they prefer and possibly make some profit from that as well.
  3. They feel that your selection does not fit your needs or is not within your local or state code limitations. In fact this may be true and is a valid point to consider when you consult a professional.

SAFETY:

Most contractors are concerned about liability and rightfully so. Tankless water heaters are reliable and proven machines that have been in operation worldwide for decades. Because of their proven energy saving concept and operation and compact design, they are now becoming very popular in the USA. They are not something to fear and in fact have some points that may actually be safer than traditional water heaters. For example, most tankless water heaters on the market today do not have a standing pilot light. It is well known that pilot lights and flammable liquids have been the cause of countless fires and explosions worldwide. In the USA, one of the most common fire occurrences is caused by the tank type water heater, especially those that are installed in the garage as they have the highest likelihood of coming into contact with flammable liquids. Typically, this type of fire results when gasoline or another flammable liquid is spilled or a container or a vehicle fuel system unexpectedly begins to leak. This liquid and/or related flammable vapors are ignited by the constant flame (pilot light) that is on the bottom of a typical tank-type hot water heater.

(For this reason, for quite some time, nationwide, it's required that tank-type gas-fired heaters must be mounted on a pedestal to keep the burner at least 18 inches off the floor. In addition, a manufacturing construction standard went into effect requiring a baffled combustion chamber that is designed to resolve that problem.)

With a tankless heater, they mount on the wall at eye level and as previously mentioned most have no standing pilot light. The reason we are called “EZ tankless” is because we have chosen to represent the latest in tankless water heater technology with “easy” to install design.

Important “mounting” note:

CAUTION: A TANKLESS WATER HEATER MUST NEVER BE MOUNTED DIRECTLY TO A FLAMMABLE SURFACE! (i.e. Wood, plywood, composite wood, plastic or vinyl covered surfaces.)

If mounted to a wall of potentially flammable material, a barrier of non-flammable material must be installed between the heater and the wall. For example, “Dura-Rock”.