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Tankless hot water heater/boiler.. Experts, what would you suggest I install?

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Tankless hot water heater/boiler.. Experts, what would you suggest I install?

Old 07-16-2012, 05:14 AM
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Default Tankless hot water heater/boiler.. Experts, what would you suggest I install?

My home, originally a non heated bungalow...

The previous owner to gain room, moved the water heater to the attic, then about 3 years before I purchased it added baseboard heat, again the boiler is in the attic. All plumbing drops down from the attic.

Fast forward 18 years, I have lifted the house, redone the inside and added central AC & heat, I removed the baseboard heat in all but the 3 bedrooms. I go to Florida 7 months a year, with both heaters set at 50, I come home in June every year and see the hot air, rarely kicks on, the filter is always still clean as new. The only reason I am changing the hot water to instant is I fear when the hot water heater I now have goes, it will ruin my cherry hardwood floors among other things. I turn off the water main, so there'd only be 40 gallons, but I want to do this so I don't have to worry about it all winter anymore.

No matter what I do, I will want to turn off my water main for the winter.
I am trying to decide whether to do the water heater only, or do the combo with boiler function.
Anxious to hear some experienced guys in the trades opinions.. Will it even work with the main shut off?
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Old 07-16-2012, 05:45 AM
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Mike, a tankless unit may work for you, but don't go electric! I recently did a gas tankless unit in Palm City for a lightly used guest area, and the owner is very happy.

Electric units draw huge quantities of electricity to get adequate volume..2- 60 amp/240v circuits is not unusual. The cost of install is high, the load may exceed the limits of your existing panel, and the "efficiency is identical to a storage unit.

My heater is in my attic. I have a decent pan and 3/4" CPVC drain line. you can also install moisture sensors connected to an electric solenoid valve which will cut off water flow if moisture is detected.

Bill
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Old 07-16-2012, 05:50 AM
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The whole idea of heating your house with a water heater is odd to me. Putting a 40 gallon water heater in the attic is a bad idea, even worse in the NJ climate.

So, the only thing this water heater does now is heat 3 bedrooms? Or does it also provide HW to the faucets? If the WH is providing potable HW, it should not come from something hooked up to baseboard unless it was designed to do the job or you might have bacteria in your potable water.

Why not shut it off and drain it? The water heater should be installed on a pan with a drain capable of handling a catastrophic tank failure.

I would find a way to get that thing out of your attic. It could fail during the summer while you're out to dinner with the same results to your floor. Put a flow sensing shutoff valve or some other safety device ASAP.

Can you change the 3 bedrooms to electric baseboard heat? I would definately do something different.
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Old 07-16-2012, 05:54 AM
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I've used the tankless in my rentals and never had a complaint and you know renters if they can complain about something they will.
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Old 07-16-2012, 06:03 AM
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I have the rinnai 940, we have 4 bathrooms, kitchen, washing maching etc. We rarley have more then 2 things going at one time, and it works great.

If you turned gas, and water off to it, I would assume it would be fine until you cut everything back on?
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Old 07-16-2012, 06:30 AM
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x2 for Rinnai you can drain the unit into a bucket
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Old 07-16-2012, 07:16 AM
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FYI, remember that he's talking about a heating system that's using a water heater as the source for heat.

Also, he has not said if it's gas or electric.

I have always told people to shut off the water main when going on vacation. However, with a water heater in the attic, there's a scenario were that would be bad. If you had a leak in a baseboard radiator and no water on, the WH could drain dry with the electric or gas on, this would be a fire hazard. With the heating source in the attic, it should have a low water cut off (it should regardless of location).
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Old 07-16-2012, 07:56 AM
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I have natural gas for everything.
I have a hot water heater for domestic hot water only. That is #1 on the get rid of list.
I also have a stand alone hot water boiler-baseboard heat system.
I also have central air/natural gas hot air heat.

I am only here 5 months a year in the summer, less the time I spend abroad touring on the motorcycle.
When I am here, there is only two in the household 99% of the time.
Again, my real goal here is to be able to turn off the water into the house and get rid of the tank (and probably the boiler) so I don't worry about it all winter.
Thanks for the replies!
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Old 07-16-2012, 08:23 AM
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Without looking up the models, I'm pretty sure Rannai and others make a tankless boiler for heat and separate HW. The fact that you have NG is a big plus. A qualified plumber should be able to install a unit with all the safety features you need.
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Old 07-16-2012, 09:23 AM
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Again, my real goal here is to be able to turn off the water into the house and get rid of the tank (and probably the boiler) so I don't worry about it all winter. Just have the hot air heat keeping everything from freezing
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Old 07-16-2012, 10:37 AM
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I have a Noritz natural gas unit. You can turn the power and water off/on...it doesn't have a pilot light. Rinnai is good...Takagi is good, but pricey. Stay away from Bosch...pure junk.
Do not use an electric tankless unit...like Bill said, it's a power hog, and you probably won't have enough capacity in a 200 amp service if you have all electric now.
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Old 07-16-2012, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Afishinado View Post
Again, my real goal here is to be able to turn off the water into the house and get rid of the tank (and probably the boiler) so I don't worry about it all winter. Just have the hot air heat keeping everything from freezing
I honestly read your bold words and couldn't figure out why you kept saying that. Problem is, you didn't begin this thread with "Just have the hot air heat keeping everything from freezing" so now I don't know what your question is. I've reread your posts and it seems that your question has morphed from "I am trying to decide whether to do the water heater only, or do the combo with boiler function." to something different.

I am more than happy to try to help, advise or do whatever I can. If I don't understand or you don't explain in a way for me to understand, there's no need to yell.

Like I said before, I have always told people to shut off the water main when leaving the house for an extended period of time.

If your other question is: can I shut off the hydronic heat portion of the house while away?, I would advise against it unless you have antifreeze in the system. There is antifreeze that's made for hydronic heat. When you do antifreeze, you'll have a closed loop and you won't need water hooked to it. I have no idea if you have the proper safety devises installed to avert a disaster with your wood floors. You could have said disaster if your home or away.

If your question is: Can I get rid of the hydronic system altogether?, I have no idea. Just because you don't use the bedrooms during the heating season, it doesn't mean you wont sell the house someday. I have no idea if your existing warm air system can be adapted to do the 3 bedrooms. I assume if it could, you would have done that when you did the other work.

You could drain the hydronic system and leave as is and let someone else worry about it if/when it becomes occupied year round.

No need to come back and tell me I'm not answering your question. Maybe someone else can chime in and do a better job. My head hurts just thinking about all this.
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Old 07-16-2012, 11:25 AM
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The dynamics in the NE may be different, but the Takagi TK-3 tankless water heater we installed 5 years ago was about the best $1,200 I spent. My old hot water heater averaged $45/month in gas during May-October (when the heat is off), the TK-3 is about $14/month; my assumption is the savings are pretty similar during the hetaing season, and if so, the unit paid for itself in 4- years. I think it has a 10 year electronic parts and 20 year overall warranty - it has so far been bulletproof.
As far as performance, it can keep up with two showers, dishwasher and sink all at once with no problem.
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Old 07-16-2012, 12:43 PM
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Dave. The Hot water heat uses water now, I have heard about the antifreeze and adding a low water shut down to the boiler is not that big of a deal.
My hot air/AC unit is of course covering all rooms. I removed the baseboard heaters from everywhere but the bedrooms, being on the bay, they get rusty and ugly pretty quickly. Not as bad now as it was when I didn't have AC, but they're ugly anyway.
SO I am thinking at this point to go with the sealed antifreeze modification to the boiler, and just the instant water heater which I can completely turn off along with the water. I do (on very rare occasion) shoot up here during the winter for a day or two, Holidays sometimes, and tax time. So I like to be able to turn the house on within a few minutes. This may be the answer.
I haven't researched brands/models yet, I have until 8/2 when I take off for a month out west to get the ball rolling for an install while I'm gone.
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Old 07-16-2012, 01:49 PM
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I've looked into replacing my hot water tank here in NJ with a tankless gas heater. Going by the specs, I never thought the rise would be enough to heat the ground water in the winter, but I was also limited in my venting (being in a condo, I have to use the existing vents and can't increase the size for larger heating units).

Question, though - other than quick start up issues, why not just drain the existing hot water tank when you leave and just use the forced air?

If you go tankless, let me know how it works out for you if you come up in the dead of winter.
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Old 07-16-2012, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by LMychajluk View Post
Question, though - other than quick start up issues, why not just drain the existing hot water tank when you leave and just use the forced air?

If you go tankless, let me know how it works out for you if you come up in the dead of winter.
In my mind, it's never been a question of 'if' a hot water heater tank will go, it's when.. Murphy was my lucky brother, so I am getting rid of it, thats a given.
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Old 07-16-2012, 02:36 PM
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If you lose power for an extended period your pipes will freeze and split. When the power comes back on they will thaw and drain into the structure.

Keep the old heater, drain all your pipes before departing and enjoy your winters..
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