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Hear it From the Experts

Wondering about tankless water heaters? Well, what better way to learn about them than from a tankless water heater expert at Arnett’s Plumbing?

Erik Arnett, owner of Arnett’s Plumbing, answers some of the most common questions surrounding tankless and provides insight on what you, as a homeowner, needs to know about them.

Hi. This is Anthony Perillo with Service Inbound, and I’m here today with Erik Arnett, who is the owner of Arnett’s Plumbing. How’s it going today, Erik?

It’s going great. How about yourself?

Doing well. Today, we are primarily going to discuss tankless water heaters, but first, tell me a little bit about Arnett’s Plumbing.

Arnett’s Plumbing started up about 20 years ago, doing general plumbing. I ventured into the tankless industry kind of by accident. I had a friend who was from Japan and was telling me about the units. He actually had one and had me install it in his house. That was about 10 years ago. I didn’t think the thing was going to work, and it just kind of snowballed from there. I ran into the manufacturer and kind of pioneered the tankless industry here in Southern California. Like I said, it’s been about 10 years since and we specialize in it. It seems to be a growing market. It’s definitely the way of the future in regard to heating water. Tank water heaters are super inefficient and don’t last as long as a tankless. They also don’t deliver as much hot water, so it’s definitely the way to go.

Which tankless model do you prefer to install at Arnett’s and why?

We only install Noritz and Rinnai. The reason why is because those two manufacturers are the oldest, and actually the biggest. They started in the ‘50s. Everything that’s built in those units is actually built by those manufacturers. It seems like there are new manufacturers coming out every week. These manufacturers buy products from other businesses and assemble the units there, then call them whatever – Bosch, Paoloma, this or that. The highest quality water heaters are Noritz and Rinnai, and that’s all we’ll install.

If I were a homeowner, why would I want to choose a tankless unit over a conventional water heater?

Several different reasons. Efficiency is number one. They are roughly double the efficiency of a conventional tank. Durability – the tankless should last (if you maintain them, of course) 20 years as opposed to 6 or 7 on the newer tank water heaters. It’s an endless supply of hot water, which is a nice thing to have. And aesthetically, they look much nicer and can save you a lot of space. A regular water heater is roughly 9 square feet of floor space. A tankless just hangs on a wall, so you save that much more floor space. Here, in California, square footage is expensive.

Because of the energy that you would be saving, do you think you would also be able to save money by having a tankless water heater in the long run?

Yeah, absolutely. Conventional water heaters are roughly 50% efficient. Some of them get a little bit higher than that, but the price goes up significantly. On a lot of the condensing tankless that Noritz or Rinnai makes, they’re 97 or 98% efficient. If you’re on propane or natural gas, your energy costs go down pretty drastically on your propane or natural gas consumption.

In comparison to a conventional water heater, how long would you say that a tankless one lasts?

15 to 20 years, but it’s compartmentalized. So, if something breaks on the tankless, as opposed to your old water heater which you would take things and throw it in the trash or recycle it, with Noritz or Rinnai if a component breaks, you just replace that part. Your initial investment, of course, is the most expensive, but from that point on, you’re just replacing whatever breaks. You don’t throw your car away when the engine goes out. It’s the same kind of concept.

Can you tell me about the tankless installation process?

Sure. What I do is specialize in retro-fitting residential tank waters heaters with a tankless. What we do is pull out the water heater, move the vent system from the ceiling or sometimes they do go directly outside because a tankless water heater requires a specific vent, whether it’s a stainless steel or Rinnai has an intake-end exhaust vent system built into them. Again, we can’t use existing vents, so we need to replace that with one or another – screw the unit to the wall and run the gas lines and water lines to the unit. The whole process generally takes 4 hours, and [the tankless water heater] should be up and running within the afternoon.

What time of hookups would I need to have in my home in order to install a tankless water heater?

It’s really the same as a tank. You’re going to have your hot water line, your cold water line, your gas line. Sometimes, you need to upgrade the gas size, which is pretty rare. We need access to vent it, whether it’s through the ceiling or taking the vent off the top of the water heater and shooting it outside through an exterior wall. And electricity. You need 120. The thing uses about 60 watts, so it’s a very small amount of electricity to run the computer and the cooling system on the unit. That’s really about all that it needs.

Going off some common objections that I’ve heard about tankless water heaters, one of them is that they are sometimes inconsistent or that I will experience cold showers. How has the technology changed in recent years to allow that not to happen anymore?

Most of the time, it’s not the tankless water heaters. It’s the tankless water heaters reacting to a low flow of water. How it works is a tankless needs a half gallon of hot water to stay running. If you’re using a faucet or taking a shower and not using very much hot water, the unit will turn off intermittently. The easiest way to resolve that is to use more hot water. The other manufacturers have multiple issues with that, but it hasn’t been an issue for many years with Noritz or Rinnai.

Have you heard any questions or objections from your customers about tankless units?

No, everyone has been very happy over the years.

That’s awesome.

Yeah. It is a little bit of an investment initially, but so is buying a hybrid car.

If I were a homeowner, I would want to make sure that I can have my tankless water heater for as long as possible. How would I be able to maintain it, so that I can have it for all of those years in the future?

Right. You can do it yourself or give us a call. We recommend, depending on the area or community that you live in (the hard water varies throughout our area), anywhere between 18 months and 2 years, to do a descaling. What you’re doing is pushing an acid solution through the heat exchanger, which is the internal engine, and it just re-circulates through a bucket. It typically only takes about an hour to do that. If you keep up with that and wipe the thing off in case there is dust in those intervals, you’re good to go for a while.

Does Arnett’s offer a maintenance program for their tankless water heaters?

Yes, we do. We have several different options for clients.

Besides the benefits that you’ve already mentioned, are there any others you’d like to discuss?

Like I said, there are a lot of benefits to it. Endless hot water, saving on your utility bill, and aesthetically – it’s much nicer. Also, it’s environmentally-friendly. Since it’s more efficient, you’re not pumping all that CO2 into the environment. I should also mention that you obviously don’t have 40 to 100 gallons of water sitting your garage. You only have a tank sitting on your wall.

If I want to get a tankless water heater or want to learn more about Arnett’s Plumbing, how can I get in touch with you guys?

You can check us out online at www.Arnett’ and Yelp. Or give us a call at 619-376-1122. I look forward to talking to you.

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