Considering A Tankless Hot Water Heater (Do You Have One? Do You Recommend One?)


Matt and I need a new hot water heater. The one we have has become a real pain. The pilot light goes out regularly, and sometimes it’s a challenge to get the thing to come back on. It seems to have a mind of its own, so sometimes I can get the pilot light restarted immediately. Other times, it won’t restart for days. It always restarts eventually, though. And I’d rather do it myself, even if that means not having hot water for three or four days, than have the plumber come out every single time and charge me a fee with every single visit, especially when I’m doing the exact same process that he does to get it restarted. So far, I think the longest we’ve been without hot water is about four days, but it always comes back on eventually. But I know the day is coming when it won’t come back on at all, and I’d rather not wait around for that to happen.

Anyway, I’m tired of dealing with it. I was hoping that this one would last until we do our addition, and then we could replace it at that time. I don’t know if that’s going to work out, though.

Our current one is a standard hot water heater. I’m not quite sure how big it is, but it looks like a normal size to me. I have a large bathtub in our new bathroom, and I was concerned about the hot water heater not being able to provide enough hot water for that bathtub.

That hasn’t been a problem, though. There’s plenty of hot water to fill the tub. And I’ve never had a problem with running out of hot water for my showers.

But Matt’s showers are a different story. Matt is my husband, and he has M.S. and is in a wheelchair. He’s the reason we turned a master bedroom into a master bathroom that includes a large curbless shower. Giving him a thorough shower is quite a long process, and by the time we finish with that, and then I shower, the hot water has run out and I’m stuck taking a cold shower.

So we’re both in agreement that we need a new hot water heater, and our two options are (1) get a new hot water heater that is larger than our current one, or (2) go tankless. I’m just not sure which option I like better.

I find comfort in the fact that, as long as the pilot light is working, we have a large tank of hot water at the ready when we need it. And conversely, with a tankless water heater, there’s something unsettling to me with the idea of not having any hot water in reserve. But I do l like the smaller size, and I also like that they seem so much more efficient. Rather than having to keep a full tank of water constantly heated, it only heats water when you need hot water. That seems a lot more efficient to me. And as long as they’re working properly, you never run out of hot water during a shower.

I have actually lived with a tankless hot water heater. Both of my apartments in Turkey had tankless hot water heaters that hung on the wall in the kitchen. I remember them working just fine, as long as I didn’t let the gas run out. My hot water heaters in Turkey were not connected to a city supply of gas. Instead, they were hooked to tanks of gas, just like the tanks of gas that are used for gas grills, that were delivered to my front door periodically. As long as there was gas in the tank, the hot water heater worked wonderfully. But I did have a couple of occasions where the gas ran out mid-shower.

So that’s my only personal experience with a tankless hot water heater, and that was over 20 years ago. When we did my mom’s master bathroom remodel over a decade ago, we had a tankless hot water heater installed that is just for that bathroom. She has had a couple of problems with it, so that makes me hesitant. But heck, I’m having problems with my big tank hot water heater, so I guess it’s no different.

So I’d love to know your thoughts and experiences with tankless hot water heaters. Do you recommend them? If so, is there a specific brand you’ve had a great experience with? How do they compare to the large tank hot water heaters in your experience?


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