Before Installing a Propane Tankless Water Heater

When a making a purchase of great importance to your home systems, I have always believed the kit would include everything I would need for an install.  However, I have come to realize that is not a common practice today with tankless water heaters.  Here is the complete picture and 5 important things to know  when purchasing a propane tankless water heater.

  1. Hard water build up and corrosion… Tankless water heater manufactures admit that hard water build up could ruin their system.  They encourage the homeowner to purchase expensive clean out connectors after the purchase of their tankless water system.  Something the homeowner doesn’t always know upfront.
  2. Venting… Not all the venting pipe is included and purchasing the right size pieces get expensive if the company is not using a standard or universal size outlet. Wall thimble/fire stoppers are surprisingly not included and should be when selling the single walled vent pipe.
  3. Incomplete instructions… The instructions are vague at best and the homeowner if inexperienced is left in a real quandary. The homeowner has a choice to install the system as is and not be in code, which could result in a fire hazard, begin researching gas vent systems and become self-educated on how to appropriately install the system, or open up the phone book and call a licensed plumber to install and prepare to pay the big bucks.
  4. Not all parts are included… The propane tankless water heater doesn’t include all the parts necessary for install.  Venting pipe also mentioned earlier, but the manufacturer/distributor specifically said to maintain the warranty, I had to purchase a “y-strainer”.
  5. Costs rapidly increase… Plumbing parts to hook the tankless water system into the domestic water supply start to add up quickly and become costly as well as the parts necessary to vent the unit outside.

I have been price shopping for tankless water heaters off and on since we built our off grid home 6 years ago.  I knew the plumbing and venting parts would quickly add to the cost, but I was not prepared for the weak installation instructions.  Many videos I came across on YouTube were not vented correctly, which could lead to a fire hazard or did not show how the gas vent was installed.  I found some helpful links from home inspector forums and websites that helped me to be confident in my vent install, and I will include the links below.

I do not fully understand why the propane tankless water heater industry does not present the complete picture to homeowners who wish to install these systems on their own.  When price shopping at the big box stores, a few helpful store employees clued me in on these side costs, so I was prepared for post sticker shock.

I hope this post was helpful to you.  I will be posting more on the install later.

Links I used for more information about venting:  (A product manual, but shows some good pictures of what the parts should like and provides detailed descriptions of the parts.)

Related Post: “Unboxing our new off grid water heater


7 thoughts on “Before Installing a Propane Tankless Water Heater

  1. You remind me so much of my husband, Mark… I’m always so amazed at the way you BOTH research, and work it all out. The $$ you save is awesome,
    but what you learn is priceless. 🙂
    Your gonna love this unit though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My wife and I are thinking about installing a tankless water heater in our house but aren’t sure where to start. I like that you recommend hiring a plumber to help you if you don’t have the full instructions. I imagine installing a water heater can be a serious hazard so having someone who knows what they are doing would be really helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The propane gas is a definite hazard if not done right. The other is water spilling every where if not controlled correctly, which can ruin floors walls, basically anything that doesn’t like water.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s