Over the years, I have heard several discussions regarding hot water issues and most of the time it is related to the lack there of. Many technicians will say that they have found the problem related to the tankless coil being restricted with lime deposits, bad mixing valve elements, washing machine valves, and perhaps others that I have not mentioned.
But one thing I do know is that when you meet with a potential buyer of a new heating system, you will most always hear their main concern is the LACK OF HOT WATER. Then, of course, when you finally end up in the basement, you see a 25-30 year old boiler that has the same 25-30 year old tankless coil. Some may mention in the discussion that they only get enough of hot water when they turn down the thermostat, turn off the washing machine and the dishwasher. This is done before they try to fill their newly installed whirlpool bath in their recently updated bathroom.
I, too, remember the days when I was a tad younger, how I would shiver after being the last one to take a shower in a less than desirable level of hot water. I also remember my own tankless days, when my then teenage daughter would spend enough time in the shower that I could read almost an entire issue of my favorite heating magazine before getting my cool shower. I bet many of you can relate to this situation!
So now you understand why I’m not an advocate of the tankless coil. I’m one who continues to promote and have installed an indirect hot water storage system in my own home. I would also suggest that when addressing hot water issues, be careful what you say, such as, “You’ll never run out of hot water.” You may learn the hard way that the word never should not have been in your vocabulary when discussing hot water issues. Unless, of course, you can be sure that you have taken every possible situation into account while doing the hot water load calculation.
The best way to avoid future problems related to hot water is by asking your customer what he or she wants the new system to do that will provide them with their heating comfort and hot water needs. For instance, asking if there will be any new additions to the home—such as bathrooms, an in-law apartment or possibly more children—can help you decide the best system to recommend.
Next do a survey of everything in the existing home and include any new items, if any, that will depend on hot water and then establish the equipment needed. Some get confused with how to figure the shower flow rate. This is simply done by using a stop watch and a five gallon bucket. Start the shower and the stop watch at the same time and see how much water is in the bucket after one minute and this will give you the amount of flow per minute from that shower. There are also many hot water energy saving electronic controls available that support hot water demands, for example, the zone control that offers a hot water priority.
I know that some will say that there are times when the boiler and tankless coil will suffice and I will not argue, but for my money the tankless will be the exception, not the rule! Remember my words: hot water commands!