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How Tankless Water Heaters Work

Tank-style water heaters have been the norm in homes, businesses, and commercial facilities for many years. The technology has advanced to make them more efficient and more economical, but their basic principle has remained largely the same. A tank fills up with water, and an electrical source heats the water up to your ideal temperature before sending it into your home when you turn on the tap.

However, the tank style water heater may not be long for this world—a new style of water heater is quickly becoming popular, and homeowners everywhere are making the switch for a wide variety of reasons. They’re called tankless water heaters, and they’re not only safer for your home, but more energy-efficient, smaller, and cost-effective than their older tank-style predecessors.

How Tankless Works

Tank style water heaters depended on a heat source to heat a tank of water to temperature before sending it to where you need it in your home. Because they heated an abundance of water at a time (some tanks could hold up to 100 gallons of water or more), tank style heaters took time to produce hot water—sometimes as much as an hour or more for larger units. As they became stronger and more efficient, heating times dropped, but there was no such thing as a limitless supply of hot water—eventually the tank would empty and you’d need to refill it.

A tankless water heater does away with the tank and instead heats the water as you need it. In a tankless water heater, a smaller amount of water is fed through a heating coil, where a heat exchanger blasts it with a high amount of heat. As the water travels through the heating coil, it heats up quickly because of its smaller volume. This volume is then what’s fed into your hot water lines and circulated throughout your home.

These systems use a flow-through design which uses energy only when you turn on the hot water tap. When you’re only using a small amount of hot water, the water travels through the heater slowly, thus reducing the amount of energy needed to bring it up to full heat. When you need more water, more heat is applied. However, all of this means you’ll never run out of hot water as long as you continually have a supply of fuel (either gas or electricity) and water.

Benefits of Tankless Water Heaters

Why should you make the switch to a tankless water heater? Because a tankless water heaters offer homeowners a number of benefits that tank heaters simply don’t have. First, there’s the matter of space efficiency. Modern tank-style water heaters may be more efficient and effective than ever, however the added insulation means that the tanks inside have become smaller. Whereas you may have had an 80 gallon tank before, you may only be able to fit a 70 or 60 gallon tank in your heater space now.

Second, your home safety will improve. Tank water heaters have a growing problem: their rapid heating warms up the air in your tank as well as the water. As air warms up, it expands, and that means the air in your tank can actually put a lot of extra pressure on the tank itself. Expansion tanks help alleviate this issue, but they’re not a guarantee of safety. Likewise, relief valves which haven’t moved in some time may actually fail to open. All of this combined creates a rare situation where a water heater could literally explode and deal tremendous damage to your home.

Finally, there’s the matter of energy efficiency. Because tank style heaters depend on keeping your hot water at your ideal temperature, you have to pay to heat the water the first time, and then pay more to keep it at temperature. No matter how well-insulated your tank may be, the water will eventually cool off and need to be re-heated. With tankless heaters, you only pay to heat your water once, and that means reduced energy costs, and more money back in your pocket.

Want to ditch the tank and switch over to a new tankless water heater system? Call the Charlotte plumbers from Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Charlotte at (704) 842-9508!