Innovative solutions for creating healthy, efficient, eco-friendly homes

Taking It Outside

Replacing an existing tank-type water heater with a more efficient tankless water heater often requires homeowners to upgrade the interior infrastructure of their homes. Specifically, tankless water heaters typically require larger gas supply piping and a Category III stainless steel venting system, which may not be installed in a home with a standard tank-type water heater.

Configuring a new home with these materials is easy enough, but in an existing home the upgrades can result in additional, and often unexpected, installation costs. So to help homeowners avert those extra costs, manager Mike Muscaro and his colleagues at Towers Murray Plumbing in Murray, Utah, have come up with an alternative - install the tankless water heater on the outside of the home.

To many, this may sound like an acceptable solution for homes in southern climates but impractical for homes in the north. Not so, says Muscaro. "We've found that with proper protection, there's no reason not to install a tankless unit outdoors," he says, even in locales where winter temperatures fall way below freezing.

Muscaro installs Rheem outdoor tankless water heaters, which feature freeze protection to -30 degrees or -20 degrees, depending on the model. He also wraps the pipes with heat tape and can install the tankless unit in an insulated recessed box, if necessary. After installing a tankless heater outside his own home, Muscaro says he noticed "no difference in hot water delivery time or in the temperature of the water," despite a hard winter with plenty of sub-zero weather.

The Rheem units also can be installed in homes at higher elevations, up to 9,840 feet. By locating the units outside, it's easier and less expensive to install the required gas piping and venting. And best of all, the tankless units conserve energy, reduce homeowners' energy bills and may even reduce insurance rates. For more information: 801-266-3529 (Towers Murray) or http://www.rheem.com.