Tankless heaters require regular (read: annual) maintenance from a service tech.
They also require non-standard electric or gas supply. Other than that, I
suppose they are as reliable as a storage tank. If they are installed correctly,
they do provide continuous hot water.
That they can do, they use a very large gas burner, 150K BTU or so, and
can supply an unlimited amount of hot water. The most annoying downside
is that they require a certain minimum flow before they fire up, so you
can easily turn the hot water down just a little too far in the shower,
heater shuts off, turn it back, heater turns on, and you end up with a
slug of icy cold water that goes through the pipe and hits you. Some
solve this by installing small electric heaters as buffer tanks at the
showers, but this is yet more work for a retrofit.
GE does not make water heaters. They are actually made by another company and
sold with a GE label, much as the Whirlpool heaters sold at Lowes. There are
only 4 manufacturers of residential storage water heaters in the US. It is
generally held that there is no significant difference between heater
manufacturers as they all use standard parts, and no significant difference
between warranty levels. A portion of the additional price on longer warranty
units is put into a warranty pool to pay claims - the majority goes to increase
The company that makes many of the private label heaters had a problem a few
years back with a bad set of thermocouples. About 10 years ago there was a big
problem across many brands with the plastic dip tube disolving when they were
made with a bad plastic.
Electric water heaters aren't particularly difficult to replace on your own if
you are reasonably handy and have someone to help you move things and replace
with a similar sized unit.
I put one in my mom's house last year, it feels like a well made unit,
likely will install one in my place as well when my current one gives
up, it's started to leak a tiny bit so I suspect I'll be doing that real
They're all about the same-- including the ones with the longer warranties.
The higher price on them is actually an insurance premium.
I bought a new one at HD around 4-5 years ago. I got the one with the long
warranty because HD added an additional "forever" warranty-- though only to
the original homeowner/purchaser. I plan to stay in my house for a long time
so it seemed like a good deal.
No problems so far.
Look at AO smith, there is better than HD stuff, there are a few
electric tank with very thick foam insulation, HD wont have them.
Instal thermal couplings so heat isnt wasted to piping. You will find
the thick insulation at www.energystar.gov or google. If you have gas
odds are 99% it will be cheaper to run, but finding an efficent Ng
unit is hard and expensive.
That's 150 for Joe the Plumber and another 235 for the Borg.
Electic is easier type to install. What's a plumber get an hour there?
Might be worth just hiring one by the hour unless you have it in a basement
with narrow spiral stairs and burried in some obscure area. Even at that,
all those Borg installs charge extra for stuff that is not "basic" as they
like to call it. In other words, anything beyond a dream piece of cake and
requires skill to install is extra.
My AOS (gas) is 15 years old and doing quite well.
You can get a read on the condition of your AOL by inspecting the anode
(long metal rod, hex head on top of heater). If it's less than 100%
chewed off, you *may* be able to get years more usage by replacing
the anode. Mine is badly pitted but intact for its purpose (to
If AOS still makes them and you really need one, I'd stick with them.
"Take Yo' Hand Out My Pocket (I Ain't Got Nothing What Belongs To You)!"
- Rice Miller, who probably never even _heard_ of GW Bush, Paulson, etc
I recently replaced a leaking 8 y.o. water heater. (a 6yr guarantee
cheapie) When I got it out and looked for the leak spot, it was
rusted out at the anode threads. The anode had never been been
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