When your conventional tank-type water heater fails, it’s usually not catastrophic. The failure usually produces a small little leak that is caught in a drip pan or trickles across the floor into a drain. This slow leak usually gives you some time to think about the issue and plan a replacement strategy. You have an opportunity to shop around, get quotes from water heater installers, and research new technologies. You may opt to simply replace your system with an equivalent water heater or you may look at upgrading to a new tankless water heater with a much higher efficiency. Once thing you should do is examine your water heating rental fees, most people are shocked at how much they pay. Really look at the cost to benefits of renting verse owning your system, remember most homeowners in cities throughout Canada and the US for that matter don’t rent their systems.
If your leak is causing damage to surrounding equipment, floors, ceiling or you’re going without hot water; it may be considered an emergency. In my house a “no hot water situation” is frequent and often (because I continually test different manufactures systems) and usually just results in some harsh words from my wife. In your home no hot water is probably a result of some type of mechanical failure, a circuit board, igniter, pressure sensor etc. It’s a good idea to replace a troublesome system before it causes too much stress on your relationships. So it may be time to do a bit of research.
A whole house tankless water heater won’t sit on your floor; it will mount to the wall. The tankless system will use either natural gas or propane as a fuel source. The system will likely need you to upgrade your gas lines and change the venting from your old water heater. If you’re considering a tankless and have any question, don’t hesitate to ask.
If you own a tankless it is important to service your system. A tankless is designed by engineers to have, first and foremost, the heat exchanger and internals scrubbed with a mild acid (vinegar). The vinegar reacts with a buildup that occurs in all pipes and watercourses (scale and lime deposits) effectively eating it away and clearing the heat exchangers and pipes. This scale acts as an insulator significantly reducing the transfer of heat to water. Engineers have also taken many precautions to ensure that internals and parts of a tankless have as few wear points as possible. This has increased the lifespan of a tankless water heater to over 20 years!
Direct Energy and several other large companies that rent water heaters are trying to reduce the tankless emergence. Currently if you’re renting a conventional water heater the system is designed to have a lifespan of around 10 to 12 years. After this point the water heater will have significant buildup inside severely reducing its efficiency. The thing is that none of these companies will push you to replace your system since you are the one paying the gas bill and it only affects your homes energy consumption.
What Can You Do?
That’s easy, call the company your renting your water heater from. They will tell you the buyout costs and the age of the water heater you have. If the system isn’t very old I would recommend you keep the water heater until it reaches its operational lifespan (10-12 years). If your system is already quite old you may simply need to schedule a removal with your water heater rental company. Then start getting quotes for a tankless system.
Once that new tankless is installed make sure you take care of it, have it flushed once every two years at the minimum (or flush it yourself). A flush is simple preventative maintenance that will ensure your system makes it past the expected 20 year lifespan while maintaining its 98% efficiency rating!