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The performance of a tankless water heater is affected by many factors including the efficiency of the heater, the piping architecture, how well the heater is maintained, insulation, etc. The major methods by which its operation can be optimized include proper sizing of the heater and its pipes, proper insulation, regular maintenance, using recirculation pumps, and monitoring the heater operation regularly and meticulously.
Tankless water heaters provide unlimited and instantaneous hot water only when a hot water fixture is turned on.
This technology saves a lot of energy compared to storage tank-type heaters. However, the performance of these heaters greatly depends on their installation and maintenance.
Additionally, the performance of a tankless water heater can be further improved by adopting certain optimization techniques.
It is also possible that the issues some users face while using their tankless heaters could be avoided with these methods.
Steps to Optimizing Tankless Water Heaters
There are several ways to improve the working of tankless water heaters.
Compared to tank-type water heaters, the issues with using tankless heaters are quite less. Most of the problems such as the wait time for hot water and the temperature of the water not being too hot can be eliminated by using one or more of the following methods.
1. Proper Sizing
Sizing the tankless water heater is an important factor to be looked into before installing or even purchasing a tankless water heater.
The performance of a tankless water heater is usually rated by two terms, namely, flow rate and temperature rise.
Flow rate is the amount of hot water that can be output by the heater in one minute. Temperature rise is the increase in the water temperature that the heater is capable of producing.
These two aspects are dependent on one another. If the output flow rate is beyond the heater’s rated flow rate, then the temperature rise decreases and vice versa.
Hence, it is important that one carefully size a tankless water heater before proceeding to purchase it.
With proper sizing, a tankless water heater is capable of proving unlimited hot water instantaneously to multiple fixtures without compromising the water temperature.
2. Insulating the pipes
If you are installing a new tankless water heater with major plumbing changes or building a new house, you should consider insulating the pipes that carry hot water to the fixtures.
This could prevent the water in the pipes from turning cold very fast and also reduce the time required for hot water to come out of the taps.
If you have a recirculation system, its pipes can also be insulated to improve the performance of the entire heating system.
However, if you are installing a new tankless water heater without making any changes in the existing plumbing configuration, insulating the pipes would be an expensive and impractical do-over.
3. Remove degraded and failed components
The performance of a tankless water heater is also depended on how well the heater is being maintained. Regular maintenance is essential for the heater to operate at its maximum potential.
Most manufacturers recommend annual maintenance of the product to remove the scale build-ups and other dirt or debris in the heater channels.
Apart from this, the user must also check the individual components such as exposed pipes, valves, and other fittings for any damages.
If left unattended, these could worsen the performance of the heater or may result in permanent damages to the heater that may not be covered by the warranty provided by the manufacturer.
Always check for minor damages and read the troubleshooting guide thoroughly for timely repair or replacement.
4. Using on-demand recirculation pumps
Several users of instantaneous water heaters have started to use a recirculation system with the heater to avoid the wait time for hot water.
This is one of the most desirable ways to optimize the tankless water heater operation.
The recirculation system retains hot water in the pipes and if the water temperature drops to beyond a certain limit, the water is sent back to the source line which further goes to the inlet of the tankless water heater.
Again, the hot water fixtures have hot water in stand-by, so whenever the tap is turned on, instant hot water is available.
This system, however, does not work well in areas where hot water is rarely used. Also, when the heater is not in use, the heater and the recirculation lines must be drained.
5. Monitored operation
It has been established that installation and maintenance play a major role in how a tankless water heater performs. Apart from annual maintenance, we must also check regularly for any minor leaks or damages in the unit.
Most tankless water heaters that are being manufactured today display certain error codes if there are any issues with the operation of the heater.
This has been possible with in-built leak and scale detection systems, temperature monitoring and other features.
Some advanced tankless water heaters can also be remotely monitored by including them in the usual communication network.
Some water heaters can be connected to Wi-Fi and can be controlled with the help of dedicated apps in the users’ smartphones or tablets.
The heater can also be monitored with these apps sending notifications to the users if any leak or damage has been detected in the heater unit.
This ensures that the user does not miss any minor or critical detriments to the operation of the tankless water heater.
6. Seeking professional help for installation
Although this factor may not be as important as the above-stated methods, getting a licensed professional to install and maintain your water heater could make a lot of difference, especially if the user does not have the relevant skills required for these procedures.
A trained and experienced person will be aware all of the proper piping, electrical, and venting requirements necessary for a tankless heater which may have been overlooked or forgotten by a homeowner trying to install it themselves.
Any mistakes in installation and maintenance could severely affect the performance of the heater, which is why it is important to hire a professional to complete these procedures.
In the end…
The performance of a tankless water heater can be affected by several factors. Similarly, there are several other aspects that greatly affect the operation of the heater as well.
To derive the maximum potential out of a tankless water heater, it is necessary to think beyond just the heater and pay attention to the external units as well.
Some of the optimization techniques listed above are to be done during installation, whereas the others can be fitted on to the heater later on.
It is important to consider all these factors before the initial installation as not many major changes to improve the heater’s performance can be made after the procedure.