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As tankless water heaters become increasingly popular in new homes today and as a replacement for storage tank units in existing projects, it’s important to tell your customers about how to care for these units in extreme temperatures. Here are eight tips for specifying, installing, and maintaining tankless units in cold climates.
Size the unit for the cold: When temperatures start to drop, it takes more time and energy to heat water than on a hot summer day. That’s why it’s important to know how a tank will perform during cold temperatures and what impact it may have on properly sizing the unit.
Bring it inside: Although many tankless units have some degree of built-in freeze protection, they can also be installed inside if your area experiences extreme temperatures.
Install proper ventilation: In cold areas, the recommended minimum vent run is six feet. Along with having sufficient vent runs, installations should avoid freezing winds to ensure proper ventilation.
Keep vents clear of snow: Some water heater models offer air intake from the outer pipe. For this reason, a few feet around the vent should always be clear of snow after a heavy snowfall. If the vent is blocked, the entire unit may shut off.
Be ready with backup power: Tankless water heaters may require electricity for freeze protection and ignition. Having a standby propane generator or battery backup system will keep the hot water flowing, even during a power outage.
More cold climate tips are on page 7 of the downloadable Ultimate Guide to Tankless Water Heaters Vol. 2.