A Close Look on Installing Tankless Gas Water Heaters

A Close Look on Installing Tankless Gas Water Heaters
January 3, 2013 Lorelie

Tankless gas water heaters are the latest type of water heaters that have rid themselves of the storage tank and instead heats water instantaneously.  Instead of storing hot water on a tank, tankless water heaters heat water as it passes through its heating coils.  In addition, since it does not need to preheat water ahead of time and only heats it when it is on demand, they do not suffer from any standby heat loss; this means you no longer need to spend money on insulation blankets.  This is the very reason why these water heating units are sometimes referred to as instantaneous water heaters or on-demand water heaters.  The best thing about tankless gas water heaters is that they have a smaller form factor as compared to traditional storage tank water heaters which is why they occupy less valuable space in a household.

There are basically two types of tankless gas water heaters – portable and permanent.  Portable tankless gas water heaters are made for outdoor use and can provide only a limited amount of hot water.  This is because the amount of hot water is limited to how much gas the propane/LPG tank has.  Portable units come with their own showerheads giving you a complete hot water showering system.  Permanent tankless gas water heaters on the other hand are made for indoor use and can provide you with unlimited amount of hot water.  If you have no experience with plumbing, installing this type of water heating system can be a bit complex unlike electric units because you will be dealing not just with water plumbing, but also with gas piping and flue venting.  This makes it more appropriate that you contact a certified plumbing technician.

Gas tankless water heaters are fired by either propane/LPG or natural gas.  Propane or LPG-fired tankless water heaters are mostly portable units.  Since you need to change tank every now and then, you need to exercise caution when doing so as you wouldn’t want to have any leaks between the connections.  Natural gas tankless water heaters on the other hand are installed using the home’s natural gas pipeline.

When installing gas-fired water heaters, whether it is a storage tank type or tankless type, it is important that you do it with both caution and respect.  Although installing them may sound easy enough for many, the truth is these equipments can be perilous when not done properly.  This is because not only do you need to install the gas line properly, but you also have to make sure that the vents do not leak any fumes inside the home.

More often than not, gas-fired tankless water heaters are installed on basements and garages.  This does not necessarily mean that installation is limited to those spaces.  In fact, these water heating units can be installed anywhere provided that you: have easy access to the unit when needed, can mount the unit firm and sturdy walls for structural integrity, have easy access to a power supply, and if you have an old storage tank water heater, it should be nearest that location as much as possible.

Remember, since gas-fired tankless water heaters use gas and fire to heat water, you should never install them on areas where you store flammable liquids, particularly those that emit flammable vapors.  However, should you need to, you may need to relocate where you store your flammable canisters and materials.  In addition, never install the unit where it may be prone to physical damage such as tight spaces with a lot of moving cars or people, or on areas that is prone to flooding.

When installing a gas-fired tankless water heating in your home, you need to:

  1. Read the instruction manual and check if you have all the materials needed for the installation.  This would include the gas supply lines, the stainless steel flue and vent system, the necessary brackets or bolts for mounting along with the standard hardware package.
  2. Find the ideal location to mount the unit and install it there making sure that it is secure.
  3. Install the flue and vent system of the unit.
  4. Turn off the main water supply and connect the necessary plumbing towards the inlet line of the water heater.  Connect the hot water outlet line on your homes hot water plumbing.
  5. Turn off the main gas line and install the necessary gas piping towards the gas inlet line of the water heating unit.
  6. When the venting, gas, water inlet and outlet are all properly connected, turn the main water supply and main gas line back on and check if there are any water or gas leaks.  If everything is okay, turn the unit on and turn on a hot water tap to check if the unit is working properly.
  7. If you are not sure if your installation is correct, you may want to contact a certified plumber to verify and check if the installation job you did involving the gas line and venting system is correct and that it does not pose any significant threat and danger to your household.

Once everything is all set and done, you may need to readjust the temperature output of your water heating unit.  It is important that you never set the temperature output above 125° F as this can cause severe skin burns to not just you, but everyone in your entire household, particularly the children and the elderly.  Most suggest that you set the thermostat of your water heating unit below 120° F to be on the safe side.  Since most water heater these days have a digital thermostat for accuracy, setting it below 120° F will not pose much of a problem.

Thanks to innovation and technological advancements, many gas-fired tankless water heaters can even be controlled via remote for that added convenience.  Nevertheless, it is usually better to manually check whether the remote control instructions have been received by the water heating unit.  Otherwise, even if your remote control says this setting, the unit’s setting may actually be different.

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