The Truth About Tankless Water Heaters: Debunking Common Myths

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The Truth About Tankless Water Heaters: Debunking Common Myths

Are you considering switching to a tankless water heater but are hesitant due to common myths surrounding it? Rest assured, you’re not alone. The truth is, there are several misconceptions about tankless water heaters that deter people from investing in them. But don’t let these myths discourage you! In this article, we will be debunking the common myths about tankless water heaters so you can make an informed decision.


First and foremost, let’s dispel the common myths about tankless water heaters. Many people believe that these units are expensive, overheat the water, have a shorter lifespan, and do not provide enough hot water. Additionally, some believe that tankless heaters do not work with cold inlet temperatures, require a gas line upgrade and that all tankless water heaters are the same. We will explore each of these myths in detail and provide you with the truth about tankless water heaters. So, let’s dive in and separate fact from fiction.


Tankless Water Heaters Cost A Lot Of Money.

One of the biggest misconceptions about tankless water heaters is that they are exorbitantly expensive. While it is true that tankless water heaters have a higher upfront cost compared to traditional storage tank water heaters, their long-term cost-effectiveness cannot be denied. According to, tankless water heaters can be up to 34% more energy-efficient than storage tank water heaters. This means that you can potentially save a significant amount of money on your monthly utility bills over time.


Furthermore, tankless water heaters have a longer lifespan than traditional storage tank water heaters, with an average lifespan of 20 years compared to 10-15 years for storage tank water heaters. This means that you will have to replace your tankless water heater less frequently, further reducing long-term costs.


It’s also worth noting that there are a variety of tankless water heaters available at different price points to fit different budgets. The initial investment in a tankless water heater is often offset by energy savings and a longer lifespan.


Ultimately, the cost of a tankless water heater depends on various factors, such as the size of your home, your hot water usage, and your budget. It’s important to do your research and consider the long-term cost-effectiveness before making a decision. While the upfront cost of a tankless water heater may seem daunting, the potential energy savings and long lifespan make it a worthwhile investment in the long run.


Overheating Water From Tankless Water Heaters

Another common misconception about tankless water heaters is that they overheat the water, making it scalding hot and potentially dangerous. However, this is not entirely true. While a tankless water heater can produce water that is too hot, it is not necessarily a common occurrence.


Most tankless water heaters come equipped with safety features that prevent overheating. For example, many models have built-in thermostats that monitor the water temperature and automatically shut off the heater if it exceeds a certain level. Additionally, some units have a feature that allows you to set the maximum water temperature, so you can adjust it to your desired level.


It’s also worth noting that the temperature of the incoming water can affect the output temperature of a tankless water heater. In areas with cold incoming water, it may be more difficult for a tankless unit to produce water at the desired temperature, which can lead to the perception that the water is overheated when it’s just coming out hotter than usual.


Ultimately, overheating is not a major concern with tankless water heaters as long as you select a quality unit, properly maintain it, and use it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. By doing so, you can enjoy the benefits of on-demand hot water without worrying about the temperature being too high.


There Is No Difference Among Tankless Water Heaters

This is not entirely true. There are differences among tankless water heaters in terms of features, quality, efficiency, and reliability. For example, some tankless water heaters may have a higher flow rate than others, which means they can provide more hot water at once. Some tankless water heaters may have a higher energy efficiency rating, which means they can save more energy and money in the long run. Additionally, some tankless water heaters may come with more advanced features, such as digital controls, self-diagnostic tools, and maintenance reminders, which can make them more user-friendly and convenient.


While it may be easy to assume that all tankless water heaters are the same, this is not true. There are differences in features, quality, and efficiency among tankless water heaters that can impact their performance and lifespan. Homeowners should take the time to research and compare different models before choosing the one that best suits their needs and budget.



Tankless Water Heaters Have A Reduced Lifespan

It’s a common myth that tankless water heaters have a longer lifespan than their tank-based counterparts. However, the reality is that tankless heaters have a shorter lifespan due to several factors. One of the most significant factors is that tankless heaters work harder than traditional tanks. The heating element has to work much harder to heat water instantly, which causes more wear and tear on the system over time. Additionally, mineral buildup from hard water can accumulate on the heating element, which can also shorten the lifespan of the unit.


Another factor that can impact the lifespan of a tankless water heater is maintenance. Without regular maintenance, sediment can accumulate in the system, causing it to work harder and potentially leading to premature failure. Additionally, failing to flush the system regularly can cause mineral buildup and corrosion, both of which can damage the unit and reduce its lifespan.


It’s important to note that despite their reduced lifespan, tankless water heaters still offer numerous benefits over traditional tanks, such as energy savings, space savings, and instant hot water. However, it’s crucial to perform regular maintenance to ensure the unit functions optimally and to extend its lifespan. 


Lack Of Hot Water From Tankless Water Heaters

This belief is often because tankless water heaters have a lower flow rate than traditional storage-tank heaters. However, this is far from the truth.


Tankless water heaters operate in a different way than their storage-tank counterparts. Rather than heating and storing a fixed quantity of water, tankless water heaters heat water as it passes through the unit, providing an almost unlimited supply of hot water.


While the lower flow rate of tankless water heaters may lead some to believe they can’t produce enough hot water, it’s important to note that the recovery time of these units is much faster than that of storage-tank heaters. In other words, tankless water heaters don’t need to wait for a tank to fill up with hot water, making hot water available almost instantly.


The recovery rate of tankless water heaters is substantially higher than that of storage-tank heaters, meaning that they can easily meet the hot water demands of a typical household. So, while it may be true that tankless water heaters have a lower flow rate than storage-tank heaters, they more than makeup for it with their faster recovery rate and on-demand heating system.


Don’t be misled by the lower flow rate of tankless water heaters. They are capable of providing more than enough hot water for multiple showers in a row, and their faster recovery rate ensures that hot water is always available when you need it.


Natural Gas Is A Must-Have For Tankless Water Heaters

This is not entirely true. While some tankless systems rely on natural gas to function, there are several other options available that can work just as efficiently without the need for natural gas.


For instance, propane-powered systems are a viable alternative to natural gas-powered systems. Propane is an efficient and cost-effective fuel that can power tankless water heaters. It burns clean and produces fewer emissions, making it an environmentally friendly option. Moreover, propane tanks are easy to install and require minimal maintenance, making them a convenient option for homeowners.


Electric tankless water heaters are also an option for those who prefer not to use gas at all. They use electricity to heat water, which is just as efficient and effective as gas-powered systems. Electric tankless water heaters reportedly use about 15-20% less energy than conventional electric tank systems, which can translate to significant cost savings on energy bills.


In addition to propane and electric options, there are also hybrid tankless systems that combine both gas and electric components. These systems use electricity to preheat the water, which is then heated further by the gas-powered component. This results in an energy-efficient and cost-effective system that provides hot water on demand.


Tankless Water Heaters Need Regular Maintenance

This is simply not true. While tankless water heaters do have fewer components than storage tank heaters, they still require regular maintenance to function properly.


One important aspect of tankless water heater maintenance is descaling. Over time, mineral buildup from hard water can accumulate in the unit’s heat exchanger, reducing its efficiency and potentially leading to malfunctions. Regular descaling can help prevent this buildup and extend the life of the unit.


Another key maintenance task is checking the air intake and exhaust vents. These vents must be clear of debris to ensure proper airflow, which is essential for the efficient and safe operation of the unit. Neglecting to clean the vents could lead to poor performance, higher energy bills, or even safety hazards like carbon monoxide leaks.


Tankless water heaters also require regular inspections of the ignition system and gas lines to ensure they are functioning safely and efficiently. A professional technician should perform these inspections to ensure the unit is operating safely.


Regular maintenance not only ensures the longevity and safety of your tankless water heater, but it can also save you money in the long run. A well-maintained unit will run more efficiently, reducing your energy bills and extending the life of the unit. Additionally, regular maintenance can help prevent costly repairs or replacements down the line.


Our Concluding Thoughts

In conclusion, the myths surrounding tankless water heaters can lead homeowners to miss out on the benefits of this innovative technology. It’s important to recognize that while tankless water heaters may cost more upfront, they offer significant energy savings and a longer lifespan compared to traditional tank heaters. Additionally, the belief that tankless water heaters overheat water is unfounded, as these systems come equipped with safety features that prevent overheating and can improve water quality.


Furthermore, the idea that all tankless water heaters are the same is simply untrue. There are various options available with different features, sizes, and fuel sources, so it’s important to do your research and choose a unit that meets your household’s specific needs. Additionally, regular maintenance is key to ensuring the optimal performance and longevity of your tankless water heater. By addressing minor issues and cleaning the system regularly, you can prevent costly repairs and extend the lifespan of your unit.


Overall, it’s important to separate fact from fiction when it comes to tankless water heaters. By debunking common myths and understanding the benefits and limitations of these systems, homeowners can make informed decisions about their hot water needs and potentially save money and energy in the long run.



Rheem Manufacturing Company, & Waldrop


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