Tag Archives: Plumbing

Hybrid Water Heaters and Point of Use Water Heaters

As promised, today we will be discussing hybrid water heaters and point of use (POU) water heaters.  In recent years, hybrid water heaters and POU water heaters have been seeing a rise in popularity. We all know the two most popular types of residential water heaters are either gas or electric tank storage heaters and tankless water heaters. Both do well to serve their purpose, but they are not the only options. POU and hybrid water heaters shouldn’t be ruled out when making a decision about the water heating system in your home. This is especially true if you have high demand water usage and energy efficiency is important to you. Both offer many options and offer more function than traditional water heaters.

Hybrid Water Heaters

Hybrid water heaters come in different configurations with heat pumps, tanks, tankless, electric, gas, and solar. With evolving technology, new designs with a focus on efficiency and high volume water supply are being introduced. Some of the more popular and reliable brands are Rheem, Rinnai, General Electric, and AO Smith.

Tank-Tankless Hybrids

 Hybrid Water Heaters - Tank-Tankless

Standard tankless water heaters can have issues keeping up with multiple fixture demand. A storage tank heater is  good with multiple fixture demand but not with long periods of usage. Tank-tankless hybrid water heaters provides the convenience of large volumes of hot water when you need it and makes the process much more efficient. The ability to have instant hot water is  coupled with the hybrid’s ingenuity. This design Integrates a storage tank with a tankless water heater. Instead of supplying hot water directly to the fixtures, the tankless unit supplies constant hot water to the storage tank. Constantly replenishing the tank allows for longer periods of use. Complete recovery of a 40 Gallon storage tank water heater is approximately 1 hr for gas and 2 hrs for electric models. Tank-tankless hybrid water heaters recover a full tank in only a few minutes.

Installation is an easy conversion from storage tank models. There is minimal pipe work required as they are about the same size, and the hot and cold water connections are the same as standard tank units. Initial cost is higher than a standard water heater but the efficiency and convenience of endless hot water is well worth the investment.

Heat Pump-Tank Hybrid Water Heaters

Hybrid Water Heater - Heat Pump-Tank

Heat pump-tank hybrid water heaters are very similar is design and style of a standard storage tank water heater. The innovation with this design is incorporating heat pump technology. Utilizing heat in the air  to assist in heating the stored water translates to efficiency, efficiency, efficiency. Heat pump-tank hybrid water heaters are more than 50% more energy efficient than conventional electric water heaters. They also heat water more quickly. Most heat pump-tank hybrid water heaters ship in full hybrid mode.  This setting will primarily use the heat pump and only engage the internal elements when required.  Most models have built in timers and a control panel where you can select different operating modes. This helps to balance your household hot water needs and efficiency desires.

The general size and water connections are the same as a conventional water heater. The installation is straightforward but does require the installation of a condensation drain line. They are ideal replacements for homes in a warmer climate with basements, garages, or utility rooms. They operate best in locations with warm ambient air temperatures. As with the tank-tankless hybrid, the initial costs are higher, but that cost can  be offset by the savings on your energy bill.

Point of Use Water Heaters

Point of Use Water Heater

Point of use (POU) water heaters are similar in design to tankless units but are smaller and designed for single fixtures. POU water heaters installation options include lavatory sinks, showers,  laundry rooms,  and kitchen sinks. They are installed very near the fixture. As water travels through your plumbing it drops in temperature. POU units are very helpful when your fixture is quite a distance away from your centralized heater.  Another option is to place a POU water heater at every, well, point of use. This is ideal if you use less than 30 gallons of water a day. You heat only what you use so there is less energy used keeping large amounts of water heated.

POU water heaters generally run from the $125.00 – $250.00 range and most of them can be plugged into a standard 120 V three prong plug. Installation costs for each unit are reasonable.  So, in certain situations the purchase and install for each fixture can be comparable to other whole house water heating appliances.

What Type of Water Heater Should You Buy?

In order to determine whether a hybrid water heater, POU water heater, tankless, or just a standard gas or electric tank water heater is best for you, it important to know how much water you use in one day. How many showers are being taken? How many loads of clothes are being washed? The maximum amount of hot water you may use at once is also an important figure to factor in. To properly size an new water heater, count how many fixtures you have and determine how many fixtures may be used at the same time and for what purpose.

The best course of action is always to contact a reliable plumber to consider all these factors. .They can help determine whether a hybrid water heater, POU water heater, tankless, or a standard tank water heater is best for you. Remember, although the initial cost of hybrid water heaters, tankless, and POU units may be higher, the costs can be recovered over time through savings on your energy bill. Also, many of the high efficiency units are eligible for local energy company rebates and tax credits that can significantly offset the cost of purchase and installation.

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Water Heaters – Residential Guide

A Guide to Residential Water Heaters

Today we will be talking about the two most common types of residential water heaters. Conventional storage tank water heaters that most of us have in our homes, and  tankless water heaters that have become more popular in the past few years.  Both of these types are whole home water heaters that can supply hot water to all fixtures in your home simultaneously.

Water heaters can account for well over 15% of residential energy costs. Choosing the right style and energy source for your household needs is an important decision. The efficiency of water heaters varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, model, and fuel sources.

Storage Tank Water Heaters

The most common type of water heater is the storage tank style that we are all familiar with. They store large amounts of heated water for use when needed.  A small initial investment is needed and they have economical operational costs over time. Energy sources for storage tank water heaters include electric, natural gas, or  propane. (Note: natural gas and propane water heaters require additional venting for safety). Since water heaters can be installed in a closet, garage, basement, or even an attic, there are multiple styles and capacities to choose from to fit your usage and placement needs.  Residential storage tanks range in capacity from 20 to 80 gallons.

For households with:

Water Heaters - Residential Gas

***Vented Natural Gas Water Heater***

1 or 2 people, a 20-30 gallon tank is recommended.

2 – 4 people, 40 gallon tank is recommended.

3-5 people, 50 gallon tank is recommended.

5 or more, 60 gallons or more is recommended.

Short or “low boy” tank styles have a larger circumference and shorter height. They are ideal for placement under cabinetry, on shelving in a utility room, or in an attic.

Medium tank styles are smaller in circumference than the short style and taller in height.  These are the most common tank style and are ideal for larger spaces like garages, utility rooms, and basements.

Tall tank styles are taller and thinner than the medium style. This style is for installation in tight spaces like a closet, small utility room, or to save space in a smaller garage.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless Water Heater

Tankless Natural Gas Water Heater

Tankless water heaters are becoming more popular, especially for condominiums and smaller household with only one or two people. Tankless water heating systems heat water on demand using a natural gas or propane burner (Note: natural gas and propane water heaters require additional venting for safety), or an electric element as it passes through the water heater. They require a larger up-front investment that can be recovered over time by eliminating the energy costs related to keeping a large tank of water at a consistent temperature. Tankless units can save up to 30% of your monthly energy costs related to heating water for your home.

Tankless water heaters are compact units that can easily be mounted on the outside wall, in a garage, or utility closet. Some tankless water heaters come equipped with waterproof remote controls. These allow adjusting the temperature as needed. You might want 120°F when running dishwasher, 104°F for kids bath time, then back up to 110°F to fill the tub for a relaxing soak.

To properly size the tankless hot water heater you will require, you will need to calculate the maximum amount of hot water your home may use at one time. This is known as the flow rate. Flow rate is determined by how many fixtures you expect to be using at the same time, the type of fixtures (kitchen faucet, shower faucet, dishwasher, etc.), and size of supply piping. Contact a licensed plumbing company to assist you in determining the correct flow rate required to properly size the tankless water heater in your home. Remember to always be a smart plumbing consumer. Research the plumbing company before you hire them by checking out their reviews on their website, their BBB ranking and their reviews on Google +.

Other Water Heating Options

There are other water heater options for your home. Hybrid systems employ elements of the storage tank design with the addition of a heat pump to increase hot water production and efficiency. Another type are point of use systems. These systems are smaller, individual water heaters that are installed near the specific locations hot water is required. Point of use units are usually used to supplement a tank or tankless system. Keep an eye out for a follow up post where we will delve further into the hybrid water heaters and point of use water heaters.

Who’s Got Plumbing??? We all do!! So Subscribe via email in the right hand column and receive automatic notifications of new informative plumbing articles. Have a great day.

Flood Prevention – Plumbing Technology

Flood Prevention Technology

Flood Prevention - Plumbing Technology

Automatic Flood Prevention Shut Off Valve

Flood damage to a home or business is  very costly and disruptive.  Troublesome insurance claims, hiring a dry-out service, repairing damaged walls, preventing mold growth, and various other inconveniences. Avoiding these hassles with the flood prevention technology available on the market can help in a major way.

According to many insurance company websites the #1 insurance claim for nearly all of the zip codes in the Tampa Bay area is “sudden and accidental damage caused by a water source. This includes broken pipes or drain failures”.

Up to 250 gallons of water per day can be released from a pipe leak with only a 1/8 inch crack. That is a lot of water and a lot of damage from such a seemingly small problem. Just imagine how much water could rush into your property if one of your water heater supply lines fails, or a supply hose to your  toilet bursts.

Types of Flood Prevention Devices

Alerting a property owner to a water leak can take several forms.  Some are individual alarms and shutoff valves for each appliances or fixture.  These are effective, but can be costly to install and maintain to protect your entire home or business.  Another type are individual flood prevention sensors placed around possible leak sources that sound an alarm when excess water is detected. These are also effective but someone has to be around to hear the alarm. They also require  the knowledge to address the issue promptly and properly.

The best in flood prevention technology are leak detection sensors coupled with an automatic shutoff valve. These units are installed on the incoming water supply line adjacent to the manual shut-off valve. Place the sensors near possible leak sources such as washing machines, sinks, water heaters, toilets, dish washers, refrigerators, as well as various water supply valves. When the flood prevention sensor detects excess water it sends a wireless signal to the shut off valve which in turn shuts off the water automatically.  This can save you thousands of dollars in repairs and hassles. Two popular brands are WaterCop and FloodMaster.

In conclusion, if you have an interst in this type of system for your home or business; contact a licensed local plumber for more information. Also, check with your insurance provider as they may offer policy discounts for properties with flood prevention systems installed. These discounts can offset the cost of installation.

Who’s Got Plumbing??? We all do!! So Subscribe via email in the right hand column and receive automatic notifications of new informative plumbing articles. Have a great day!!

High Water Bills – Why is My Water Bill so High?

High Water Bills Can be the First Sign of Plumbing Problems

High Water Bills - Water MeterHave you been getting seemingly high water bills lately? It could be a sign of an undetected pipe leak or issues with the faucets, toilets, and valves in your home. Being aware of your water usage is good way to monitor the health of your water supply pipes and fixtures. A high water bill is often the first sign that you have a plumbing problem.

Unusually high water bills are almost always an indication of  undetected leaks in your water supply pipes, dripping faucets, or toilets that are slowly but constantly running. In addition, homes with concrete slabs may have pipes leaking under the foundation. Since, this can erode away the sub structure and cause extensive damage it should be addressed immediately.

Older properties with copper or galvanized steel pipes are especially susceptible to corrosion and failure. There are many instances where property owners have had this problem. They lose hundreds of thousands of gallons of water beneath the slab and don’t know it. As a result they receive a water bill in excess of $1000. The local water departments rarely have mercy in these cases.

Plumbing Inspections & Repairs

If you suspect you may have a leak contact a licensed plumber to diagnose the issue. They can inspect your plumbing for obvious signs of failure. They can also pinpoint hidden leaks using ultra-sonic leak detection devices. After discovering the source of the leak the plumber can best advise on the method of repair. Based on the age and type of pipe,  a whole water house re-pipe may be recommended.

Furthermore, it is a good idea to have a plumber inspect your home every couple years. This will help avoid problems that may cause costly damage to your home. Upon inspection the plumber will check the condition of your water supply pipes, drains, water heater, valves, and faucets. For a complete inspection they can also check the condition of your sewer lines via video inspection. Like they say: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.  Remember to always hire a licensed, insured, and bonded plumber to have the peace of mind and guarantees your local “handy man” will not be able to provide.

Who’s Got Plumbing??? We all do! See ya soon.