Life changes when the kids move out. It’s quiet and the water bill goes waayy down. Is a 40-50 gallon water heater tank still needed?

In our mid-century split-level home, we’re transforming a poorly-planned 6′ x 8′ bathroom into a tiny utility room. The plan is for this newly-born utility room to hold a stackable washer-dryer, a water softener, a very small laundry folding area and an in-wall access point to a storage area under the stairs.

Making the most of small spaces is a challenge, but we’re pretty happy with the outcome so far. There’s just one problem: The tiny room is just not large enough for a standard 40-gallon water heater. So, the spouse has been thinking and may be on to something: we’re trading in the tank water heater for the tankless “hot water on demand” kind.

According to energy.gov, “Tankless water heaters, also known as demand-type or instantaneous water heaters, provide hot water only as it is needed. They don’t produce the standby energy losses associated with storage water heaters, which can save you money.”

As our hot water demands continue to diminish over the next 2-5 years (THANKS, colleges with dorms!), our need for storing and heating hot water in a large, continuously heated tank does, too. There is a pretty big downside we’re may need to get used to, though: the flow rate of a tankless water may not be as awesome as with a standard water heater.

In a smaller, 2-3 person household, however, the cost savings may be worth the trade-off in hot water flow rate. For example, homes that use 40 gallons or less of hot water daily, a tankless approach may increase of increase energy efficiency in the neighborhood of 20 to 30%. Over a conventional tank water heaters. ENERGY STAR® estimates that a typical family can save $100 or more per year with an Energy Star-qualified tankless water heater.

We like savings and efficiency, especially on a retirement income.

How Tankless Water Heaters Work
As the name suggests, tankless heaters do not use a storage tank but heat water directly via a heating unit. Energy.gov notes that “When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. Either a gas burner or an electric element heats the water. As a result, tankless water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water.”

Gas vs. Electric?
Like regular tank water heaters, the tankless varieties are available in either gas or electric models and provide hot water at a rate of 2–5 gallons per minute (slightly higher for gas versions).

What Flow Rates Mean in the Real World
If you like to run the dishwasher or do a warm-water load of laundry before hopping into the shower, a tankless heater might be frustrating. Simultaneous demand can strain a single tankless unit. Energy.gov suggest installing multiple units – one for the shower, one for the kitchen and another for the laundry.

Advantages and Disadvantages
Recent innovations in the tankless water heater industry have improved quality in the heating units. Cost-wise, the initial cost of a tankless water heater may higher than a conventional storage water heater, but tankless water heaters may last longer and have lower operating and energy costs. If your current water heater is more than 8 years old, it’s about halfway through its life expectancy. While you still have a time, talk with a reputable plumber to see if tankless might be an option for you.

Water You Waiting For? At Allied Reddi-Rooter, updating hot water heaters is one of our specialties. Our expert plumbers can help you define the best approach to supplying your home with a constant supply of hot water. And, we offer money-saving coupons to meet your budget needs. Visit our web site, http://alliedreddirooter.com, for details. Or, call Ray for a free estimate or to schedule an appointment. (513) 396-5300.

Q: I have a gas fireplace and I’m picking up the smell of gas in the firebox. I suspect a leaky valve. Should I call a fireplace company?

A: You can, but a reputable fireplace or chimney company will recommend that you call a plumber. Why? Well, it’s all about professional boundaries and training. Plumbers are trained to install and repair gas lines; fireplace and chimney companies…not so much. At Allied Reddi-Rooter, we can inspect and repair any gas line in your home quickly and professionally. We do not, however, install or repair fireplaces (or furnaces).

Q: While cleaning out my late father’s tools, I found a small, heavy, hand-held device that resembles this: What is it?

A: It’s a lifesaver!!! Seriously, it’s a small drain auger (a.k.a., a snake), useful for clearing minor clogs in the toilet. Tip: Yours has likely been in a clogged toilet once or twice, so handle it appropriately. Store the auger in a place where it won’t come into contact with things you like to keep clean, such as your hands, other tools, clothes, etc. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling. If this device doesn’t clear your clog (or you would rather not attempt it), call my team at Allied. We’ll clear your clog and have your toilet flowing cleanly in a snap.

Q: The rubber gasket on my garbage disposal is coated with greasy, chunky, smelly food crud. It’s horrible. Should I replace it?

A: The technical terms for these gaskets include “quiet collar” or “splash baffle.” Yes, you can replace them – Amazon has replacements available for under $15 that feature an anti-microbial treatment. If yours is simply grimy and not torn or cracked, we recommend that you save your money and clean the baffle on a regular basis, such as once a month. With care, garbage disposal baffles last for years.

How to Clean (rubber gloves and an old toothbrush are useful):
· Remove the baffle from the drain (pull it up, it should easily pop out).
· Apply a generous amount of grease-cutting dish soap to the baffle.
· Work the old toothbrush into the baffle nooks and crannies, removing the food crud.
· Rinse frequently under hot water (don’t burn yourself) and repeat the scrubbing process until the baffle is clean and fresh.
· Replace the baffle snuggly into the sink drain; ensure the baffle is properly seated in the hole before engaging the disposer.

Q: My spouse and I are shopping for a new toilet this weekend. If we buy one elsewhere, will you install it for us?

A: Absolutely! Allied gladly offers “labor-only” assistance. If you find that perfect lavatory, vanity, kitchen sink, toilet, or other plumbing item, we will be happy to install it for you (note that if additional materials are required, such as piping, gaskets, etc., we can supply those for a fee).

Water You Waiting For? Our web site features discount coupons for money-saving dollars-off. Visit: http://www.alliedreddirooter.com/coupons. To schedule an appointment or receive a free estimate over the telephone, call Ray today at (513) 396-5300.

“If I [were] a young man again and had to decide how to make my living, I would not try to become a scientist or scholar or teacher. I would rather choose to be a plumber … in the hope to find that modest degree of independence still available under present circumstances.”

– Albert Einstein, The Reporter, 18 November 1954

Americans take many of our modern conveniences for granted. Each morning, we turn on the tap, brush our teeth, flush the toilet, take a shower, make the coffee, and start our day with running water. We seldom think about the manpower and infrastructure required to keep our water flowing. Oh, sure, the Cincinnati and Dayton Water Works has a big part to play in our central water and sewage systems. But from the pipes to your home or business, who keeps everything in good working order? Your local plumbers.

According to US News & World Report, “All it takes is one lousy morning with no running water (or a clogged sink or phantom-flushing toilet) to remind us how dependent we are on the expertise of plumbers. But troubleshooting is just a sliver of their responsibilities. The men and women working in this profession develop blueprints to plan where pipes and fixtures should be plotted in a structure. They also install and connect the piping and fixtures, either working individually or with a team of apprentices and pipefitters. In addition to facilitating water supply from pipes and large fixtures, such as bathtubs, showers, sinks and toilets, plumbers ensure that water reaches appliances like dishwashers and water heaters. The best in the occupation are strong problem-solvers who have mastered customer service and can meet the physical and mechanical demands of the job.”

At Allied Reddi-Rooter, we are looking for personable, customer-centered problem-solvers who enjoy working with water issues and keeping household and small business plumbing systems in good, healthful, working order. It’s a dirty, hands-on job that provides a variety of situations each day. Masterful customer service skills, a cheerful outlook, relationship building and, of course, analytical and hands-on engineering skills are required. A good understanding of math (including angles), hand tools, and piping strategies is a must.

Salary Scale – It Varies but It’s Good
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2013 median salary for a plumber was about $50,180. At the high-end, highly skilled and successful plumbers running their own shop can earn about $86,120; entry level positions earn about $29,590 annually. Plumbing is a career that still uses the apprentice model; apprentices typically earn about half the wages of a fully trained plumber.

How Do I Become A Plumber?
Time, patience, trade school course work, study and hands-on training are the formula for becoming a skilled plumber. US News & World Report notes that “Traditionally, a hopeful plumber begins a four- or five-year apprenticeship program to receive technical education and complete the required hours of on-the-job training under a licensed professional. Plumbers who have successfully completed their apprenticeship are known as journeymen.”

Typically, an apprentice plumber undergoes about 250 hours of course work, math, applied physics and chemistry. About 2,000 hours of paid, practical training alongside an experienced plumber is also required. Last but not least, safety training is crucial in this field because injuries are common in this line of work (plumbing is considered to be part of the construction industry). To work independently, one or more licenses are required.

Water You Waiting For? A career as a plumber is a noble one. And, once you become a plumber, you’ll never have to call one again (think of the savings!). If you are interested in working with an A-team of skilled, professional plumbers, talk with Ray today. 513-396-5300.