Monday, February 8, 2010

It's a Tankless Job . . .

It’s been a couple of weeks since I purchased my Rheem tankless water heater and I anxiously await the arrival of my friend to install it.

Last Saturday brought the threat of Texas ice and cold, so the install was postponed a week. Nonetheless, I had the burgers and a couple of bottles of Guinness Extra Stout ready just in case. And a case of Dr Pepper.

Dan Stilson served in Haiti for Operation Uphold Democracy in the mid 1990s with my husband Jon. They both lived and breathed the 245th Airborne Psychological Operations missions and methods for the US Army. We have shared burgers, buzz cuts and boy stories about his twins and our own son over the years. In addition to being a soldier, Dan is also trained as a heating and cooling tech, so I was thrilled when Dan offered to intall the water heater for me while Jon is now supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

It is awesome to have friends when your husband is afar, but it is even more awesome to have talented friends willing to help! Dan is not the only one who’s stepped up, but right now he’s the one who’s in the spotlight!

Dan is helping a couple of guys get started in home repair. Due to a back injury, he wasn’t excited about crawling around on the roof of my house to vent the tank, so he enlisted Eloy to come with him. He was also figuring out the tankless water heater install because he had not installed one before. Would have taken them a scant couple of hours to install the storage tank type he’s used to, but the tankless ones, well, this is new territory for all of us.

Dan was concerned that I needed to vent this thing, but I wanted to install the outdoor model in the garage, which doesn’t require venting. After a little research, Dan finally discovered that the efficiency on these tankless heaters is 92 percent. They burn so efficient that they can be installed in a basement without a vent. So a garage should be okay too.

I was ecstatic and returned to Home Depot and exchanged it for the outdoor model. Oh, did I mention I was installing it on the other side of the water heater closet, putting the unit in the garage? The unit is the size of an electric panel and that means, I get an entirely huge closet! This is perhaps the biggest motivator for me to get the tankless! Okay, I admit that I have some shallow moments, and sometimes they are daily and sometimes they are very close to the surface, but gaining a closet without having to move a wall is monumental!

A couple of other motivators for going tankless are the 30% tax refund for 2010, 30% energy cost savings here on out, some level of savings from our local electric and gas utilities (I have heard rumors, but will need to call and find out what the actual savings are), and of course, endless hot water!

Because there is no tank, the unit provides hot water only when it is demanded. At 6.6 gallons a minute, that is awesome. It is also rated to handle 2 to 3 appliances/baths at a time! Small additional fact is that it also pulls only 2 amps, so I was thinking if Dan hadn’t offered to put this thing in, I could have done it myself (I am pretty handy around tools and stuff too!). It looked kinda easy on the box and I could carry the thing without any help!

The crew was going to arrive around lunchtime so I made burgers and homemade french fries. We drank some of the Dr Peppers and saved the beer for celebrating afterward (except for Ron who's brew of choice remains Dr Pepper).

Well, I’m very glad Dan and Eloy installed it for me. I really don’t think I could have done it, especially the gas line. Dan read every instruction and made sure the correct parts were available. Eloy did an amazing job of re-routing the gas and water plumbing. He was very conscientious about making it aesthetically pleasing and covered any gaping holes in the drywall (like the one left by the old vent stack into the top of the closet and the existing huge gapping ones around the water pipes. Eloy’s business is called “Honey Do’s” out of Ft. Worth, or call 817-615-0729. I definitely recommend him.

In fact, the unit looks so nice on the garage wall, I think I need to paint the garage now to make it look right!

In addition to the help from Dan and Eloy, I enlisted the help of Greenville native, Ron Shultz, a 6’6” friend and wannabe taunter! He was curious why I kept referring to it as a water heater. “You know, most people call it a . . . “ he said. “I know. They call it a hot water heater,” I replied. My high school buddy, Mark Palmer already outted me on Facebook and asked me if I planned to heat hot water! Thanks, Mark. :)  It did save me some argument time with Ron! He’ll have to wait to get me on something else, though. They both verbally keeps me on my toes.

But Ron was invaluable for the remodel. He got the task of hauling the humongous old heater out. With a bear hug and a couple of steps, he wrestled it out the back door and down the 4-inch step into the garage. A borrowed two-wheel hand truck made the haul to the curb much easier. It also made it easier to read the manufacturer’s date. The old heater revealed it was made in February 1980. If the unit was purchased within a year of that date, that means it worked in this house for 29 years, nearly double the expected life span of most heaters.

Dumping the remainder of the water of the calcified innards of the behemoth took several more gallons. No wonder it was gasping for air. I am totally surprised this thing did not already overflow or explode.
Dan and Eloy had already hit the road back to Ft. Worth, when I realized we had not taken time to celebrate. I'm holding the Guinness Extra Stout hostage and Dan will just have to come back and visit when Jon returns so we can all catch up without any kind of work involved.

I guess I really hadn’t realized how tepid our water had become. My first shower was heavenly. The shower was as hot at the end of the shower as it was at the beginning and I didn’t have to turn the cold water down at all in order to keep getting hot water!!! I think whatever we save in gas energy, may go to extended water usage due to long showers!!!!

I love my new tankless water heater so far. Does anyone else have one they love or hate?

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