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If you’re the kind of person who’s interested in how your home’s appliances work, you may be wondering why tankless water heater repair isn’t a common problem. At bluefrog Plumbing + Drain of North Dallas, serving Richardson, TX, we can tell answer your questions, like what makes them work so reliably, and for such a long period of time before they need replacement? After all, a typical whole-house tankless water heater lasts up to 20 years, while a tank-based unit typically serves you for 10 to 15, tops before tank corrosion and other major issues make replacement a really good idea to avoid leaks and flooding and a big cleanup. A tankless unit doesn’t even have a tank, with 40 gallons or so of hot water ready to spill out if problems arise. What risks does it have, and is tankless water heater repair more about avoiding disasters, or ensuring reliability? Are there major differences between electric tankless water heater repair, and servicing gas-powered models?
Start with a Tank-Based Water Heater for Comparison
A basic tank-based water heater is just a kettle of water that doesn’t boil. There’s a protective valve that ensures temperature and pressure inside the tank don’t get too high, and vents if they do so the unit doesn’t leak or, sometimes, explode. There is a single or double thermostat and heating element to heat the water, which gradually raises the water temperature when hot water has been used to keep the supply at a constant temperature, usually 120 degrees F. The tank is the major repair and maintenance concern since its longevity is basically the water heater’s lifetime. An anode rod that needs replacement every few years to stay effective, protects against tank corrosion and bacteria growth in the tank. Standard gas or electric supply is usually enough for the gradual heating method of the tank-based water heater.
Tankless Water Heaters Respond and Heat Quickly, But Don’t Store Hot Water
When water starts flowing through a tankless water heater, the gas flames light or the electric heating element heats up to raise the temperature of the water passing through in real-time. It doesn’t have the 30 to 40 minutes on average than tank-based water heaters take to warm their limited water supply. It’s important to note that tankless water heaters need a minimum flow rate to activate the heater, so before you call for tankless water heater repair for no heat, try turning the faucet to about halfway to check! Tankless systems are specified by flow rate, rather than the 40 gallons typical capacity of a tank-based system. An average flow rate for a whole-house unit is 4 to 8 gallons per minute (GPM).
Capacity and Flow Rate and Your Household’s Needs
Doing the math with a WaterSense compliant showerhead, you’ve got 2 GPM max flowing, perhaps half hot water for 1 GPM, so in a perfect world you have 40 minutes for a 40-gallon water heater. For the last family member, if it’s after 40 minutes of usage, it’s a cold shower. With a typical tankless water heater at 4 GPM, you can run the shower basically forever, but if you add a typical washing machine at 2 GPM, a dishwasher at 1.5 GPM, and someone turns on the kitchen sink hot water at another 1.5 GPM, you’re way past the flow rate. Rather than call for a tankless water heater repair for a cold shower, it’s necessary to coordinate hot water usage a bit or install a higher flow rate unit for your family’s increased peak hot water demands.
Energy Demand Is a Big Difference
When our tankless water heater repair experts work on a system, they’re dealing with a very energy efficient device that can significantly lower your home’s energy consumption for hot water, which is typically a significant part of your overall energy use. That might seem surprising since these units usually require a significant gas or electric connection to handle the peak energy they draw when hot water is in use. It might only be for a few minutes of hot water flow, but a typical electric whole house tankless water heater can require a serious electric supply for that time. While a tank-based water heater runs around 4,500 watts for the heater, tankless can run 28,000 watts and require a 120 amp circuit. By the way, even gas-powered water heaters need electricity in most cases to power the control systems, so electrical failure can be a reason for tankless water heater repair whether it has a high-powered circuit for electric heating or a regular one for a gas unit.
Control Units and Other Insides of a Tankless Water Heater
When your unit needs tankless water heater repair, you may hear these components mentioned:
- Heat exchanger
- Gas valve for gas-based units
- Gas burner and ignition
- Combustion chamber
- Combustion fan
- Temperature and water flow sensors
- Safety components
- Venting and air filter
- Electronic controls
- Water flow valve
Many of the components in a gas unit are similar to a gas furnace, lighting and operating a burner, exhausting the combustion products, and safely transferring heat through the heat exchanger. Electric is a bit simpler, and both systems rely on electronic controls and sensors to manage the operation. Maintenance items include the air filter, which homeowners should check and clean from time to time to avoid the unit shut down. It may remind you with a warning display or sound!
Expert Tankless Water Heater Repair in Richardson, TX
If you’re enjoying the convenience of a long-lasting, reliable tankless hot water supply, make sure it’s in good shape with proper maintenance and repairs by our tankless hot water experts. We understand the operation of these units and can take good care of you, helping you to serve your family for up to 20 years. If yours needs replacement or you’d like to upgrade your tank-based system to tankless, we’re glad to help. Call us at bluefrog Plumbing + Drain of North Dallas today!