Is Instant Hot Water Only a Dream for You?
How Can You Be Sure You Always Get Instant Hot Water?
As we continue to explore better plumbing practices and methods, our last article about “Tankless Water Heaters” indicated something that may have been news to you. Many people misunderstand the difference or use of Tankless Water Heaters. This may be because they were provided misleading information. It’s also entirely possible that the person they got this information from was either misinformed or possibly even talking about the use of a different piece of equipment.
Often the term “Tankless Water Heater” is unknowingly used interchangeably for very different types of water heaters used for different purposes.
Tankless Water Heater System
First let’s briefly review the use of a true “Tankless Water Heater” system. As in our last article indicated, “Tankless Water Heaters have been around for 50-60 years, they have not been used widely in the United States until recently. Because we are now more closely focused on energy efficiency and savings, some home builders now install them as they are building new homes; especially in custom homes. This type of system is intended for supplying hot water to all plumbing system points. They only heat the water, albeit very, very quickly, when there is demand for hot water at a point of use.”
The article goes on to say, “One of the biggest misconceptions about Tankless Water Heaters is the belief that they provide instant hot water at all points of use. While this is an instantaneous water heater, it does not mean that it’s going to be instant hot water at each faucet. It still has to travel from the water heater to the faucet just like the regular tank-style water heater did.”
Point of Use – Tank Water Heaters
These water heater systems are designed to provide instant hot water at a specific faucet or point of use. Many people do not realize that this type of water heater, just because it’s so small, still has a tank that holds hot water until it’s called for.
These systems are normally added near or under a sink or lavatory and most of these heaters are electric. They will supply a limited source of instant hot water (pre-heated) while the larger overall hot water system is flowing toward that point of use or faucet. Because these systems are well insulated and small in size, they do not require a large amount of energy for the instant hot water, but are also limited in the amount of hot water they can provide.
Point of Use – Tankless Water Heaters
These smaller water heater systems are also designed to provide instant hot water at a specific faucet or point of use. These tankless systems are also smaller and are usually limited for for only at one or sometimes possibly two points of use.
These small water heater systems are also also installed under a sink or lavatory and are electric. These systems can be a source of instant hot water (pre-heated) while the larger overall hot water system is flowing or the only source used at a point of use or faucet.
If used as the sole source of hot water, it is possible to have either hot water temperature slowly cool or even disappear. It is very important to have the system reviewed and laid out by an experienced professional to prevent these types of potential pitfalls from occurring.
Hot Water Circulating Loop
Another method of providing instant hot water is to run a continuous circulating loop system with a Tankless Water Heater. When using a circulating loop with a tankless water heater, it is recommended by the manufacturer to install a “buffer tank” in the circulating return line, or use an “on demand” circulating system. A buffer tank is usually a small tank style water heater that heats the water in the circulating loop, and keeps the water hot, and when there is a large demand for hot water, the tankless water heater then turns on and heats the water.
An on demand circulating system has motion sensors installed in various locations (usually bathrooms or hallways leading to the bathroom) and sends a signal to the pump at the water heater to turn on and circulate the hot water. Installing a circulating system properly on any tank style or tankless water heater is very beneficial in a couple of ways:
- truly get hot water instantly at any faucet in the home, and
- reduce the amount of cold water that is wasted when having to wait for the hot water to come out of the tap.
In addition, many commercial uses find that these systems work well for them. Large buildings, high-rise condominiums, restaurants, etc. find that in addition to insulated piping and in-loop circulation pumps quite often work very well.
Caution for All Users
As with all water heater systems, there is always the danger of scalding, injury or even potentially death to occur. It is highly advised that only professional, licensed plumbers work on these or other water heater systems.
In addition if your family includes smaller children, make certain that the thermostat is set to a more moderate temperature. When instant hot water is available, it can be much more likely for a child, or even adult, to be surprised and possibly injured if these precautions are not followed.
Make Leak Geeks Your Plumber
Call Leak Geeks Plumbing professionals if you need help with your water heater issues. You can be assured that only a Licensed Plumber will be there for any work done in your home. We work diligently to make certain that you are treated with respect and have all your questions answered before we go to work in your home.
Leak Geeks Plumbing provides professional grade water heaters and tankless water heaters in the southwestern part of DFW Metroplex and surrounding areas. For more information about your water heater and other plumbing services offered by Leak Geeks Plumbing connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, our channel on YouTube or LinkedIn.