Saving the Environment One Drop at a Time: Starting Today, I’m Going Tankless

Published August 10, 2012 by Candy Evans

Busy day here yesterday at the ranch, as we emptied and discarded these babies for an Eternal GU 195S on demand hybrid gas fired water heater. In effect, we are going tankless. Woo hoo! These two hot water heaters are 12 years old, about the age when they start to break down. One broke on Christmas Eve, but it was no big deal because our hot water heaters sit in pans that have drains attached — water bugs notified us of the leak while we were at church. We turned off the broken unit and used the other one — the joy of being empty nesters!  A few weeks ago, I heard rumblings in hot water heater II — it was loud and bouncy, as if pebbles were popping inside. Was someone having a party in there?

Sure enough, that popping noise is a sign of sediment in the heater tank, an indication it’s about to bite the dust. This happened, of course, when I was in San Francisco last week. But if a hot water heater is going to break, late July is probably the best time ever. Sonny over at Great Southwest Plumbing saved the day — Sonny does all the plumbing for Classic Urban Homes and JLD Custom Homes, among other fine Dallas home builders– as you know, I’m picky about my homebuilders.

When you replace those big momma heaters and go tankless, it may not always be so smooth. Check for a few things: one, we have 3/4 inch copper pipes, at least 3/4 inch is required. Secondly, the roof vents: we chose the Eternal because we could vent it into the same roof vent both heaters had used, using the same flashing. I have done enough home remodeling to know you are asking for trouble when you start cutting new holes into a roof. We also needed an electrical outlet in the attic, and God bless my home builder, we had one.

These are the pesky details, that make “going green” so hard to carry out in reality. Had our home been fitted with small pipes, would have been a whole lot more labor and retro-fitting!

Did we run into any problems? Only one: we have a fire sprinkler system installed by Urban Fire Protection. The plumbers were cautious and didn’t want to go about soldering in the attic with the risk of setting off the fire sprinklers — that would have been a disaster! The good folks at Urban Fire talked us through shutting down and draining the sprinkler system so they could solder away. Another reason why you need intelligent, cautious people on the job!

The Eternal is so compact I may create a storage closet in the space those old heaters hogged. Our water is very hot and seems to get hot faster: we are getting 14 gallons per minute, so two or three people can shower simultaneously and still have hot water, plenty of it.

As for those two big mamma tanks, one of the plumbers says he’s going to recycle them into a BBQ pit… and promises to send photos!

— Daily Local Real Estate Dish By Dallas Real Estate Insider — Candy Evans at CandysDirt.com