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Quick Answer: Should You Install Tankless Water Heater Yourself?
The installation of a tankless water heater is a critical procedure that should not be attempted by a homeowner without the relevant skills. A user may not be aware of how to choose an installation location, the local or state codes that must be followed, the permits to be obtained, the clearances to be maintained, proper sizing of the heater and its parts, and the factory settings of the heater. The warranty services provided by most manufacturers also do not apply if the installation is not done by a licensed person.
Tankless water heaters are not just easy to operate and maintain, they are also easy to install.
This is mainly due to the fact that these heaters are extremely compact compared to standard tank-type water heaters.
Just because tankless heaters can be installed by a user does not mean that they should be.
There are several details to installation that a homeowner may not be aware of.
If these small factors are not given proper consideration, it could ultimately lead to the failure of your heater long before its actual service life.
It is, for this reason, professional installation of tankless water heaters is always recommended.
- Quick Answer: Should You Install Tankless Water Heater Yourself?
- Difficulties in Installing a Tankless Water Heater Yourself
- 1. The installation manual may not be comprehensible
- 2. Many users assume that it is a simple replacement job
- 3. Choosing the best installation location
- 4. Codes and permits to install a tankless water heater
- 5. The existing gas supply lines may not be sufficient for a tankless water heater
- 6. Users installing the heaters themselves ignore the venting requirements.
- 7. A user may not know what parts of the heater should and should not be altered
- 8. Warranties
- So, what should you do?
Difficulties in Installing a Tankless Water Heater Yourself
During the installation process of a tankless water heater, several factors have to be looked into.
A homeowner who is not skilled in the relevant areas required for the process may not be able to carry out or even understand some of these aspects. It is for this reason even manufacturers recommend that the installation be done by a licensed professional.
Some aspects of the installation that can be improved with the help of a professional are as follows.
1. The installation manual may not be comprehensible
Most manufacturers expect the user to hire a trained professional to carry out the installation process. Due to this reason, they come up with installation guides that are meant for such professionals.
To an inexperienced person, some of the terms used in the manuals may not be lucid and the instructions may seem very vague.
Even after a thorough study and doing in-depth research of the product, there are chances that the user may miss out some important details required for the installation process.
2. Many users assume that it is a simple replacement job
Replacing an old tank-style unit with a tankless unit is not just changing the heater bodies.
A tankless unit may require several changes to the existing electrical, plumbing and venting configurations.
3. Choosing the best installation location
In some cases, during replacement, the installation location may also need to be changed. Some tankless water heaters may not work optimally if installed in the basement due to very long pipe lengths.
A professional can help you with finding the perfect location for installing a tankless water heater which is equidistant from all the regularly-used hot water fixtures.
For tankless units that are meant for outdoor installation, users assume that they can be installed just about anywhere.
However, if the proper clearances for the heater and the air intake and exhaust requirements are not met with, it may result in heater failure.
4. Codes and permits to install a tankless water heater
For both electric and gas tankless water heaters, there are codes set by the central, state or local jurisdictions that must be adhered to.
For those who think that installing an electric tankless water heater is an easy job, keep in mind that several changes to your current electric configuration may be necessary.
At the same time, to carry out these upgrades, you may have to obtain some electrical permits and adhere to the state or local codes.
The same goes for water supply as well. Relevant permits and strictly following the codes are essential during the procedure.
As for gas tankless water heaters, the venting configuration must be according to the rules set by the local authorities. Also, there are several restrictions when it comes to the disposal of the condensate from these devices.
An experienced person would be aware of all such codes and permits that need to be obtained before installing the tankless heater.
5. The existing gas supply lines may not be sufficient for a tankless water heater
A tank-style water heater that runs on gas will have a lower BTU rating than a tankless heater providing hot water to the same fixtures.
A ½″ gas supply line is commonly used for storage tank water heaters.
While replacing with a tankless heater, the gas supply lines must be properly sized by a trained person.
Most tankless water heaters of moderate to high capacity require ¾″ gas lines for proper functioning.
A licensed professional is capable of determining the proper gas supply requirements and also installing the pipes in an error-free manner.
Also, if you are planning on changing your fuel from propane to natural gas or vice versa, do not attempt it on your own.
Some heaters are not compatible with other fuel sources, whereas, others require some additional changes before switching to another fuel.
6. Users installing the heaters themselves ignore the venting requirements.
There have been a few cases of users using the chimneys of their houses for exhaust.
There have also been several cases of homeowners using the existing ducts for tankless water heaters.
In both of these cases, the exhaust from the heater may not be let out of the building, resulting in harmful gases being trapped in the house and/or the combustion unit of the heater failing to work.
Tankless water heaters have their own venting requirements that must be fulfilled even if it means reconstructing the vents completely and the existing ones being left idle.
A professional will have the knowledge on how to size the exhaust and air intake pipes properly, as well as the necessary clearances for both.
7. A user may not know what parts of the heater should and should not be altered
The most appropriate example of this situation would be the rating plate.
The rating plate is something that is not meant to be altered or removed by anyone. However, there have been several cases of users attempting to do the same.
Apart from the rating plate, the control modules of several tankless water heaters come with various switches.
Some of these switches are capable of being configured by the user, whereas, the others are set by the manufacturer and are not meant to be changed.
An experienced person would know what the necessary changes in the heater setting are. They have the knowledge of what changes would enhance the heater and what would cause harm to the device.
Tankless water heater manufacturers provide attractive warranties on their devices that allow the users to repair or replace any damaged parts.
However, most manufacturers recommend that a licensed person does the installation.
Their warranty services also become void if the installation was done by the homeowner themselves.
In order to avoid any hassle while claiming warranty, it is best that you hire a professional to do the installation and mounting procedures.
Apart from the above reasons, an experienced person would also be able to provide you tips on how to operate the water heater efficiently, saving energy and money, and proper maintenance of the heater.
So, what should you do?
Although it may seem cost-effective to install a tankless water heater by yourself, it may end up costing you a lot of money in the long run.
Subtle details in the installation procedure that may be missed out by an unskilled user can make a huge difference in the heater operation after a few years.
For the proper functioning of the heater throughout its lifetime, it is recommended that you hire a professional for the installation process.
Apart from this, even the annual maintenance can be done with the help of an experienced person to ensure the proper working of your tankless water heater.