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

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!

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  • For a second I read that as "I'm going topless!" Hahahahahah! When our water heater bites the dust, we're going to go tankless (not topless!) too!

  • For a second I read that as "I'm going topless!" Hahahahahah! When our water heater bites the dust, we're going to go tankless (not topless!) too!

  • make sure you have enough gas coming into the house to fire up both the tankless unit and the heater! To install tankless, we would have had to rerun the gas lines to the house!

  • make sure you have enough gas coming into the house to fire up both the tankless unit and the heater! To install tankless, we would have had to rerun the gas lines to the house!

  • @Lisa, I know, there are so many variables. So far, so good. This unit will get a huge test when my son gets married and we have a houseful of guests showering! We have a pretty strong gas line, but like I said, green is often a lot easier said than done!

  • @Lisa, I know, there are so many variables. So far, so good. This unit will get a huge test when my son gets married and we have a houseful of guests showering! We have a pretty strong gas line, but like I said, green is often a lot easier said than done!

  • We too have the Eternal GU195 for over a year now. The real test will come when you have a houseful of guests in February. The reason you're getting 14 gpm now is because the in-bound cold water temp is about 80 degrees. In winter when the cold water temp drops to about 60 you'll get about 5 gpm, about enough for one shower. We have our hot water temp set to 120 degrees in the summer and 130 in the winter with our old cast-iron tubs. I love that Eternal is made right here in Garland and that I can just push the on-off button when we go out of town. You'll get used to the hard knock the back-flow valve makes when the hot water circulator shuts off.

  • We too have the Eternal GU195 for over a year now. The real test will come when you have a houseful of guests in February. The reason you're getting 14 gpm now is because the in-bound cold water temp is about 80 degrees. In winter when the cold water temp drops to about 60 you'll get about 5 gpm, about enough for one shower. We have our hot water temp set to 120 degrees in the summer and 130 in the winter with our old cast-iron tubs. I love that Eternal is made right here in Garland and that I can just push the on-off button when we go out of town. You'll get used to the hard knock the back-flow valve makes when the hot water circulator shuts off.

  • You should also know that tankless hot water heaters are not alway great for those master showers that are like car washes ( showers with 2, 3 and 4 functions i.e. shower head, rain head, body sprays and hand held showers ). They do not keep the water hot enough for that many functions and unfortunately the people that sale them dont always tell the homeowner that.

  • You should also know that tankless hot water heaters are not alway great for those master showers that are like car washes ( showers with 2, 3 and 4 functions i.e. shower head, rain head, body sprays and hand held showers ). They do not keep the water hot enough for that many functions and unfortunately the people that sale them dont always tell the homeowner that.

  • We installed a tankless 12 years ago when remodeling our house. LOVE IT! Our master shower has 2 shower heads, 12 jets, 2 rainheads, and 2 body sprays (double shower). Of course, most wouldn't use ALL of those at once. Never had any problems using several of these at one time. May depend on the tankless maker. Forever hot water!

  • We installed a tankless 12 years ago when remodeling our house. LOVE IT! Our master shower has 2 shower heads, 12 jets, 2 rainheads, and 2 body sprays (double shower). Of course, most wouldn't use ALL of those at once. Never had any problems using several of these at one time. May depend on the tankless maker. Forever hot water!

  • Great example for us Candy!!! Any idea of the energy $avings?

  • Great example for us Candy!!! Any idea of the energy $avings?

  • @craig: I will — supposed to cut the gas bill by a third!

  • @craig: I will — supposed to cut the gas bill by a third!