Hi all. I can tell that you regulars have chewed over the tank v. tankless debate many, many times for newbies like me. And I see the arguments for and against tankless, and cost is, of course, no joke. Nor is efficiency.
But we have an added difficulty -- location of the water heater, whether it's a tank or tankless. And that's why I'm considering tankless. I'll explain it and if you could offer any insight or suggestions or encouragement, I'd appreciate it.
Obviously, we already have a water heater -- an electric tank, which is about 15 years old and which apparently just died. It's leaking like mad and we turned it off last night. We have four in our household, including a shower-happy teenager.
Why couldn't we just put a new tank where the old one is? Well.... we could, maybe, and may have to. But it's just h-e-double-hockey-sticks. We live in a WW2-era house that started out tiny and was added onto by previous owners. One expanded the kitchen and had the bright idea to put the water heater out of the way but near the sink and dishwasher. So it's in a corner of the kitchen, under the counter. It's a table-top size.
When the last one went bad 15 years ago, shortly after we moved into the house, the plumber took one look at this tight corner, where two countertops meet, and he was, like, fuhgeddaboutit. He wasn't about to try to remove it and said the only option he saw was to place a big tank somewhere else, which would put it out in the open for all to see because there is nowhere else to put the dang thing. My husband considered that for a second until I told him that simply was not going to do. He ended up having to take apart the cabinets and countertops (much, much, much cussing) and we went out and found another tabletop unit and another plumber took the old one out and installed the new one. My husband then put the cabinets and countertops back together (much, much, much cussing).
Now that water heater has died. Naturally, it received zero maintenance or attention throughout its life because there's no way to get at the thing without massive headaches.
So we must replace it, somehow. We do have natural gas service for our gas pack -- but that's on the other side of the house and the lines would certainly have to be extended to the kitchen. But maybe that'd be worth it in the end because of our particular situation and problems? We cringe at the idea of installing another tabletop there but is no viable place elsewhere and perhaps we are doomed to it if the tankless option is too expensive and/or unreliable. Have you any thoughts? Thank you in advance for your time!
p.s. I'm awaiting calls from the gas company and plumbers to arrange visits so we can talk options and estimates.
As long as you do not have hard water, a gas tankless should do fine for you in sunny NC.
It should still be serviced every year to prevent deposits from building up in the coil.
A tankless would likely take up less wall space, but it still needs some room- you woulnd't be able to install it under the counter and be able to do any of the required maintenance on it. Don't even think about an all-electric one, as you'd likely need to order a bigger supply, new panel, and, the cost would be nasty to operate it. Then, you have to consider makeup air for the combustion. If you get one, you'd probably want to consider one with a closed combustion system, which pulls combustion air through its own dedicated pipe to the outside, otherwise, to get one large enough to support more than one user, the makeup air would just suck all your conditioned air out the exhaust, while pulling in unconditioned air from outside in any crack available. While not my favorite location, some people put them in their garage, which might be an option. The further away it is from the points of use, the longer it takes to get hot where you want it, so with a tank, you'd possibly consider a recirculation system.
We are still without hot water as we try to juggle unforgiving work schedules with plumber schedules with conflicting information/estimates/opinions on what would be best. Sigh.
If we got a tankless, it would go on the outside of the house. We don't have a garage. The gas company came and provided its estimate of the cost of putting in a Rinnai -- $4500!!! Excluding the electrician costs!! Who in their right mind would go that route?
Two other plumbers have estimated $2500 - $2700 to put in tankless units outside the house. That also seems really high though I guess it could be argued that some of the money would be buying extra storage space under the counter which is now used by the lowboy. Both plumbers have commented that the builder did us no favors by placing the water heater there because it's completely inaccessible without dismantling the entire cabinet system. The location also means it'd be impossible to put in stone or tile countertops because you'd never be able to move them to get to the water heater. Sigh. Alternatively, we could give up a pantry and place a taller, skinnier water heater there, thus giving up easy-to-get-to storage space for the ability to put in nice countertops over the not-easy-to-get-to storage space.
One plumber also suggested placing a water heater outside in an Aqua Hut. Cost: about $1600. Does anyone know anything about these? Do they actually work OK? Do you not spend tons more on heating the water because the heater is outside (even though it's in an aluminum shelter)?
Thanks for any/all help.