Tankless? Storage Tank? Which is better? In the first article of this series we looked at the economics of heating water. Number two explored how each system would perform to meet our needs. This final article will compare how ‘green’ one system is versus the other.

As I’ve mentioned, it is a ‘small world’ after all, and I think it’s important to consider the impact on the planet when choosing to install these long-term systems in our homes, especially for those of us here in the United States where we’ve been blessed with such abundance. (Personally I believe “to whom much is given; much is required”.) So which is ‘greener’? Here are the facts:

• More energy efficient – Top-selling tankless brands are typically 95% to 98% efficient. Storage Water heaters that use fossil fuels will lose 20 % to 30% of their energy up the chimney. Tankless units don’t just have excellent combustion efficiencies. They are also very efficient because they aren’t just ‘one size fits all’ like Storage Tank units. They are designed to modulate the ‘fire’ needed, either up or down, depending on the load being put on the system in real time.

• Sized and Tuned to each Job Site – Instead of a huge tank heated constantly in case there is demand, Tankless units are small, heating only what needs to be used. If the typical load is expected to be large, additional Tankless units can be installed in series, coming ‘on line’ only when needed.

• Smarter Controls & heating = longer life – I’ve been replacing hundreds of Storage Water Heaters each year for over 30-years. The average age of a tank that leaks and needs to be replaced is 9 to 10 years old. We’ve been selling and servicing Tankless Heaters for about 15-years, and I’ve yet to replace a ‘leaker’ due to age related corrosion. Of course, there have been a small number of units that leaked due to a defect, but even so, the defective units were still fewer in number than the defective Storage Tanks we see. Many Tankless Heaters have a 20-year warranty on their heat exchangers (the part of the unit that will leak first, due to the ‘fire’ being applied there)…and many in the industry predict that units will commonly last 25 to 30 years here in the U.S. just like they do in Europe and Asia.

• Heating only what you use – Even though Storage Water Heaters have greatly improved in energy efficiency because of ignition system and insulation improvements; the fact remains that every household has to keep 40 to 50 gallons of water in ‘reserve’ at all times. Currently there are over 120-million households in the U.S. If they all had Storage Water Heaters, that’s over 5,400,000,000 gallons (5 Billion, 400 Million Gallons) that is commandeered for stand-by use every day. To put that in perspective, according to the EPA, about 400 Billion Gallons of water is used (not on stand-by) every day in the U.S., (each of us use around 100 gallons a day… double what Europeans use daily). Compared to the total amount of water we use, it’s not a great deal, but as the planet’s population gets larger, fresh, clean drinking water is getting harder to find, and becoming more precious.

I’ve just given you plenty of reasons to suggest that Tankless Water Heaters generally are ‘greener’ and easier on the planet than Storage Water Heaters. But the question still remains, which is “better” for you; Tankless or Storage?

Considering all of the above and the other issues we discussed in previous articles; there is no one answer that is ‘right’. However, I do submit that it is ‘wrong’ to pretend our choices don’t make a difference and won’t impact us personally and as a community in the years to come.

Here’s hoping the things we’ve explored help you choose well…
Bruce Davis Sr.
Licensed Journeyman Plumber
Licensed Electrician, HVAC/R
Electrical Administrator, HVAC/R
Certified WA State C.E.U. Instructor
Bruce@dayandnite.net

Bruce Sr is President of Day and Nite Plumbing and Heating,
a 60-year old family owned and operated plumbing and heating
business in Lynnwood, Washington.
Day and Nite Plumbing and Heating Inc.
16614 13th Ave. W.
Lynnwood, WA 98037
800-972-7000


In my last article on ‘Tankless vs Storage’ water heating, we ‘did the math’ and discussed the economics of changing over to a tankless water heating system. This was the first of three things I recommend you consider when deciding whether or not to ‘go Tankless’.

Here’s a recap of those considerations:

1. Economics – all the economics of water heating…from day to day use to installations.
2. Needs and performance – the needs of the family will best fit what unit and how it performs?
3. Family/community impact – how concerned is my customer about how their choices are affecting our planet?

This article will focus on ‘Needs and Performance’-
• Needs…what things exist in my home and life regarding hot water, and what will serve them best?
• Performance…how well are things working with my storage tank unit, and will tankless improve things?

Our needs fall into many different categories. How many people are in the home? What are the bathing habits of everyone? (Does everyone try to bathe at once every morning, or does it spread out into evenings and on different days?) Are there any special items that need lots of hot water at once, like a large whirl bath or soaking tub? Is the space taken up by a large storage tank a problem, and would the much smaller footprint of a tankless unit hanging on the wall be valued?

In many homes today, especially those of ‘boomers’ like my wife and I, even though there are now fewer people living in the house, there is often less room due to down-sizing. For me, the older I get the more I like to sit and soak my old bones in a nice hot whirl bath tub, and that takes over 60-gallons of hot water. Another issue at our home is our pets. They’re family too! So my wife Judy had me put a simple shower valve on one of our exterior hose bib faucets. Now when she washes her dog or one of her horses, she can use water out of the hose at any temperature she wants. The tankless water heater has been great for us in all these things.

And that leads us to ‘Performance’. Usually there is just the two of us and our pets at our house…but how we use hot water has changed from when we had a house full of children. It used to be we needed hot water for laundry and dishes, now it’s needed more for bathing and soaking ourselves and our ‘stuff’… and we use it for longer stretches than we use to.

With a storage tank water heater, you can usually get 40 to 60-gallons of hot (110-degree) water (that’s about 20 minutes of running time). With a properly sized and installed Tankless water heater, you can run 110-degree water at 5 to 6-gallons a minute for as long as you want and never run out. What does that ‘feel’ like or look like? These days the Plumbing Code calls for all faucets and shower-heads to have a maximum flow of 2.5 gallons per minute. Consequently, you can have a sink and a shower, and often another fixture running and calling for hot water, before it hits the limits of the Tankless heater’s flow rate… and you can do that continuously as long as needed. That is worth a lot to many families.

When you’re thinking about needs and performance, this is what it boils down to: What would work best for you and your situation? If a Storage Tank unit has been serving you fine and you have no compelling reason to ‘go tankless’, why fix it if it’s not broke? If however, some of the attributes of a tankless unit are appealing, I think it’s a good idea to price out a conversion sooner rather than later. This will allow you make an informed decision when the time comes, and that will be especially helpful if you need to replace your current water heater due to an unexpected equipment failure.

Okay, so now you’re two steps ahead. You can make a decision based on economics, plus needs and performance. In our next article on ‘Tankless vs Storage’ water heating we’ll look at the third issue you might want to consider before making a buying decision; Family and Community Impact. In other words, how ‘green’ is one versus the other? It is a ‘small world’ after all, and I believe it’s important to consider the impact on the planet when choosing to install these long-term systems in our homes. If you feel like I do…stay tuned!

“This article is one of a 3-part series, and the author strongly recommends that anyone considering ‘Tankless Vs. Storage Tank’ issues for heating water in their home or business, have a Licensed Professional make a site-visit to examine all the variables that need to be considered, including water quality, site limitations, anticipated usage, and budget available for both the installation & necessary annual Maintenance…”

 

Bruce Davis Sr.
Licensed Journeyman Plumber
Licensed Electrician, HVAC/R
Electrical Administrator, HVAC/R
Certified WA State C.E.U. Instructor
Bruce@dayandnite.net

Bruce Sr is President of Day and Nite Plumbing and Heating,
a 60-year old family owned and operated plumbing and heating
business in Lynnwood, Washington.
Day and Nite Plumbing and Heating Inc.
16614 13th Ave. W.
Lynnwood, WA 98037
800-972-7000


For the last few years, I’ve gotten plenty of customer calls that go something like this;
“I’m thinking about changing my water heater. Can you tell me which is better, the ‘storage tank’ style that I’ve always had or one of those new, ‘Tankless’ water heaters everyone is talking about?”

I will always try to answer “Well, I think they are both good choices really, but the real question we need to consider is not ‘Which is better’, but ‘Which is better for you.”

Both conventional ‘Storage’ type and ‘Tankless’ type water heaters have advantages and dis-advantages. Due to marketing hype, there are misconceptions about both that should be cleared up before a choice is made.

When I help customers decide which choice is best for them, I recommend three things be carefully considered:

1. Economics – all the economics of water heating…from day to day use to installations.
2. Needs and performance – the needs of the family will best fit what unit and how it performs?
3. Family/community impact – how concerned is my Customer about how their choices are affecting our planet?

There is so much that needs to be considered about each of the three that in an article like this, we can only cover one at a time effectively. This article will address the ‘economic’ considerations of heating water, and the other two issues will be addressed in later articles.

Economics – “do the math”…
Lots of marketing has been done about ‘how much more efficient Tankless heaters are than Storage water heaters”, with the implication that a lot of money can be and will be saved by ‘going tankless’. But what is almost never mentioned, is how much an average family actually spends heating their water. According to many studies, the average family will spend roughly $250 to $450 per year on hot water. (14% to 25% of their energy bill). A couple or a single person spends even less.

On the high end an average family spends about $400 a year and the average couple spends $250 a year. That breaks down to $33.33 a month for a family and $20.83 a month for a couple. (These basic estimates apply to both electric and gas water heaters here in the Pacific NW, though electric water heaters can cost $50 to $100 a year more than gas.)

The Tankless water heaters we are considering are gas, and are very efficient, some as much as 98%. That means when our average family switches from a conventional gas storage tank (existing tanks are 60% to 80% efficient; let’s use 70%), they will save 28% of what they are currently spending on heating water. In real dollars, that’s a whopping savings of $112 a year, or $9.33 a month. A couple would save $70 a year, or $5.83 a month. And again, if our average family has an electric water heater, they may save about the same amount or a little more. Not quite the giant money-saver that the hype teases us with, is it?

I am then often asked “Won’t the fact that it’s ‘tankless’ automatically save a lot?”. The reality is, if the current storage tank is inside the home and well insulated with foam, the heat and energy loss’ is minimal. Studies indicate that these foam insulated tanks indoors only lose about 3 degrees F. per 24 hours; that’s very little heat and energy lost and very little re-heating. Even if it were as much as an additional 10% or 15%, do the math; how many real dollars are saved by tankless or spent on re-heating?

Of course, the only economics we have considered are the day to day dollars spent on hot water; we haven’t even considered the cost of installations. In the Seattle Metropolitan area, the average 52- gallon Hot Water Tank can be replaced with an efficient, well insulated gas water heater for an average of $ 1,100.00, and a good 52-gallon electric water heater for about $800.00 for tank, parts and labor plus Tax and Permit. These tanks would have 6-year warranties and assumes they are replacing units that meet Code. (Please note; in April of 2015, the new Energy Code requirements come into effect, and these tank prices may increase by 20% to 30%). If Code ‘upgrades’ are needed like an expansion tank and/or seismic strapping, it can add another $200.00 to $400.00. The average storage style water heater lasts 10 to 12 years before it fails and needs replacing.

The average tankless installation in the same market is going to cost $2,500 to $4,500 for the unit, parts and labor, plus Tax and Permits, installed by a Licensed Contractor, using Licensed Technicians, with the difference in pricing based on the unit choice and installation difficulty. Most tankless units have a 15 – 20 year warranty on their copper or stainless steel heat-exchanger, with a 1- year warranty on the rest of the unit, parts and labor. How long will tankless water heaters last? In my opinion, it’s looking like at least 20-years, and possibly up to 30-years for many of the units if they are maintained properly with annual service

Speaking of Maintenance and Service Repairs, how do the tankless heaters compare to storage water heaters when it comes to those things? Both should be serviced and cleaned annually, and that Annual Maintenance will cost about the same for both of them. But –and it’s a big-but- there are 2 differences that can cost more with a tankless water heater.

The first big difference is that some tankless units have heat-exchangers that are very sensitive to hard water, and need to be de-limed every other year or so. That’s not just ‘flushing’ it like with a storage tank; it’s a 2-hour service call by a plumber. The other big difference is that if you neglect to service a tankless unit annually it will break down sooner, and could need repair as often as twice a year. Compared to storage tank waters heaters that’s quite a lot. I’ve seen storage tank water heaters go 10+ years needing only a new pilot or heating element; that’s just one repair its whole life! I do not recommend neglecting annual maintenance like that; it is not safe and the unit will not run as economically as it could otherwise. However, the fact remains that tankless water heaters can ‘get by’ with far less attention, and I have seen them have fewer repairs and less trouble.

Contrary to some of the marketing hype, I don’t recommend ‘going tankless’ just to save money. It often doesn’t save much, and the ‘Payback’ time is often 15-20 years if everything goes well and nothing unusual fails. Please remember, the above numbers are estimates. It’s very, very hard to predict what might change and/or be saved because there are so many variables, not the least of which is how the hot water is used. Sometimes, when a family gets a tankless water heater, their savings are huge due largely to the fact that they all became hyper sensitive and aware of every-single-gallon they were using, so they change their habits and use far less hot water. At the same time, their next door neighbor might have ‘gone tankless’ and their bill for heating water went way up because they started using their double-wide, jetted whirl bath tub 4 times a week now (instead of once or twice a year), because they could fill it and not run out of hot water.

All that said… economics are not really why so many people, including me, value and own tankless water heaters. Longevity, durability, the comparatively small size, and a potentially endless supply of hot water; those are the reasons folks “Go-Tankless”. We’ll began to look at some of those things next time around.
Bruce Davis Sr.
Licensed Journeyman Plumber
Licensed Electrician, HVAC/R
Electrical Administrator, HVAC/R
Certified WA State C.E.U. Instructor
Bruce@dayandnite.net

Bruce Sr is President of Day and Nite Plumbing and Heating, a 60-year old family owned and operated plumbing and heating
business in Lynnwood, Washington.
Day and Nite Plumbing and Heating Inc.
16614 13th Ave. W.
Lynnwood, WA 98037
800-972-7000


April 16th, 2015 is right around the corner and the old standard storage tank water heater is getting a makeover. I thought it would be good to go over a few things as this new change could limit what’s available in water heaters and increase the cost.

Per the NAECA (National Appliance Energy Conservation Act) as of April 16th, 2015, the vessel storing and maintaining gallons of hot water day and night with its constant glow of the pilot at the ready, will no longer meet the new energy standards. Water heaters built thereafter will have new energy requirements. This goes for gas, propane, oil, and electric water heaters. This win for conserving energy and reducing emissions is not without growing pains.

According to the US Department of Energy, new mandatory standards “will result in approximately $63 billion in energy bill savings for products shipped from 2015-2044. The standard will avoid about 172.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of about 33.8 million automobiles.”   http://www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/appliance_standards/product.aspx/productid/27

Improving energy conservation is better for the environment, and benefits all of us in the long run. And a more efficient use of energy can reduce utility costs for the average home owner. All the ways that future water heaters will change are still unknown, but manufacturers say there are some things we should be aware of as the deadline approaches. After April 16th only water heaters that meet the new NAECA Standard will be manufactured. This does not mean that non-conforming water heaters cannot be sold or installed, but once the old stock is gone, it’s gone. After the deadline, if you want a water heater that meets the new standards you should specify this to ensure you don’t receive one of the older models.

Though these water heaters are going to improve efficiency, it won’t come without a price. Some models will no longer be built so there will be fewer options when it comes to size and specific products. As an example, a standard 50 gallon gas water heater from one manufacturer will increase in diameter as much as two inches. Not a big deal where there is plenty of clearance, but we’ve run into plenty of water heater installations where there isn’t even half an inch to play with. That access through a tight opening, that spot squeezed between the furnace and the garage wall, the enclosure with zero clearance to three sides of the tank, all could make a minor increase in size dramatically effect whether a replacement water heater would fit or need to be completely relocated.

Another added cost will come from manufacturing to the new standards. We may see various water heaters equipped with additional energy saving technology; anything from more insulation to an electronic ignition system that replaces a conventional standing pilot on gas models. Gas water heaters over 55 gallons will need to incorporate condensing technology to meet the new requirements. For electric water heaters over 55 gallons it may mean a heat pump water heater to gain the required EF (Energy Factor) rating. One manufacturer we work with has told us to expect these changes to increase production costs from 10% to 30%.
Manufacturers are doing their best to produce products that can directly replace the old models and still meet the new standards. However, some water heaters will not be a standard “drop-in” replacement and will need more work to install than we are used to.

What should you do to prepare for these changes in April 16th, 2015?
• If you have a tank located in a tight space, and that size tank is no longer available, you will probably need to downsize the tank or relocate the water heater. If you have an older water heater you might want to replace it now with a model of the same size and capacity, while they’re still available. This would buy you time before replacing the tank with one that meets the new requirements. Hopefully by then there will be a product that meets the new efficiency standards, as well as your capacity and space requirements.

• Water heaters over 55 gallons that meet the new standards will probably cost more than an older model of the same size; another reason to consider a replacement while the product is still available. Know that there may be ways to get the hot water you need with a smaller tank. A professional plumber would be worth consulting before an emergency replacement.

• When ordering a water heater replacement, one way to help keep costs down is to have as much information on your water heater as possible. Typically the things that will help you get the right water heater the first time are: width and height of tank, any access restrictions, height of water connections coming out of the wall, type of venting (does it go through the side wall, is it plastic or metal), brand & model #, gallons, and BTU’s (for gas or propane).

Water heaters are becoming more technically advanced. You may have installed one in the past, but the new changes may require different installation for safe and proper operation.

Although there are some concerns with meeting the new mandatory energy standards, increasing efficiency and reducing emissions is the future for energy consumption. Ultimately, it will mean a cleaner environment, and will reduce the operating costs of our appliances.

When it comes to your water heater, regardless of these upcoming changes, the best thing you can do is be prepared and proactive. Know the age of your water heater and how to shut it down in an emergency. Plan to replace a water heater on your terms, rather than letting it become an out of service and/or property damaging problem.

Bruce Davis Jr.
General Manager
Day & Nite Plumbing & Heating, Inc.

Bruce Davis Jr. is a second generation plumber and HVAC technician. He earned his Commercial Plumbing License and later became N.A.T.E. Certified and E.P.A. Refrigerant Certified for HVAC service and repair for commercial and residential HVAC appliances. Bruce has years of experience as an HVAC Technician, Boiler Technician, and Plumber. He is now General Manager for the company he has been with his entire career and oversees the Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning business for Day & Nite Plumbing & Heating, Inc.


Plumbing seems simple enough, but it can often be a mystery to the inexperienced consumer. I’ve compiled a short list of common myths, legends, and sage advice. Hopefully they can assist you the next time you run into a plumbing problem, or help you avoid one altogether.

Low water pressure is not really low water pressure (usually): The more the better right? Low water pressure is a common complaint plumbers hear, especially when a pressure reducing valve is being recommended. So what kind of crazy person wants less pressure?! The fact is, most fixtures in your home, including your water heater, are rated for 80 psi (pounds per square inch) as the normal working pressure. Anything greater than that wears on your plumbing system and risks possible early failure of piping and components. So why is it that your faucet or shower doesn’t feel like there is enough pressure? Often (not always) the perception of low water pressure is really a restriction in volume. Imagine two extremes 1) A hose with a tiny pin-hole, with 200 psi…. or 2) a 2” pipe wide open at only 20 psi. Which one would “feel” like more “pressure”? Scenario Two. More water tends to feel “wetter” and the misperception is that volume equals pressure. Low volume can feel like less pressure and be a symptom of any one of a number of different issues; a restriction in the piping, aging galvanized piping, undersized portions of the system, or even certain failed components that are now restricting flow.
Flushable applies to toilet paper only. Ah the treasures that plumbers pull from within the cavernous depths of a clogged sewer. Seriously, these are tales best left untold, unless it is your drain that is clogged. A good drain technician can usually identify a drain clogging culprit. High on the list of the “Most Unwanted” are “flushable” products. These products, ranging from disposable diapers to cat litter, are not what your plumbing drains were designed for. They can clog and cause expensive backups and/or repair. The list of non-flushable “flushables” is extensive. The best rule of thumb; if it isn’t toilet paper, don’t flush it!
Frost free hose bibs are not worry free. When installed correctly, frost free hose bibs are designed to shut off up to 12” inside the wall and drain the excess water to prevent freeze breaks in lower temperatures. So why do plumbers commonly replace frost free hose bibs due to freeze breaks? The hose was never detached from the spigot. For this design to work the water must be able to drain away from where it shuts off within the wall to the outside spigot. With the hose attached it simply cannot accomplish this.
Your toilet doesn’t need to be held down by a brick. Home remedies placed in toilet tanks to reduce the amount of water used per flush, like bricks and bottles, are not a good idea. Sure, they can save water, but they can also diminish the quality of flush needed to evacuate the toilet properly. Instead of risking a clogged toilet or drain, it’s better to invest in a quality low flushing toilet. There are a number of low flush toilets that just don’t hold up performance-wise. But there are toilets available that flush as low as 1.28GPF (gallons per flush) without sacrificing performance. You will typically find these toilets sold by a plumbing shop that stands behind their work for at least a year.
Know thy house. It may seem like a simple thing, but in a time of emergency, knowing where and how to shut your water and gas off is critical to minimizing water damage. We’re often asked to instruct a home owner over the phone where to turn their water off, so we created a free program to specifically show home owners how and where to shut off their water and gas before an emergency. It’s called ID For Free.
The garbage disposer’s secret hand shake. A garbage disposal on a kitchen sink can be overloaded and the wrong items can damage or cause a clog. The general rule of thumb is to recycle and compost what you can, and never put anything you wouldn’t eat down the garbage disposer. For specific guidelines you can also refer to the user manual. But what if the garbage disposal doesn’t work and you want to try something on your own before calling a plumber? Some disposals will come with a hexagon wrench that, (turn the power off first) can be inserted underneath in the center of the disposal to manually work the motor to break free. If the unit has overheated it can be reset by pressing the reset button located underneath the unit once it has cooled down.
Clogs & Chemicals. When there is a clog, the temptation is to immediately dump chemicals down the drain, but using drain chemicals can be risky. You never know what else is in that drain that the chemical may react with. Always wear proper safety gear and eye protection, and follow the safety instructions included with the product. Take a few moments to read about your drain chemical. Some chemicals won’t work with certain types of clogs and others may damage fixtures and piping. Chemicals should not be used on a garbage disposer.
As a rule it is never recommended to dump a chemical into a drain without some sort of drainage. Imagine a complete stoppage with absolutely no flow. Once there is a chemical in the mix, now the problem has changed from just a clogged drain, to a clogged drain with a hazardous chemical present. Containment will also be an issue when accessing piping to clear the drain. The other rule of thumb is that chemicals don’t work on toilets or main sewer lines (3” and up). If your house or toilet is backing up, DIY remedies typically won’t make a dent. At this point it is time to call in the professionals.

Plumbing, good or bad, is a part of daily life. If you encounter a problem, these seven bits of wisdom could help you navigate the waters. Read them, share them, and commit them to memory. If you find that you’re in over your head, don’t be afraid to call a plumber. We’re here to help!

Bruce Davis Jr.
General Manager
Day & Nite Plumbing & Heating, Inc.

Bruce Davis Jr. is a second generation plumber and HVAC technician. He earned his Commercial Plumbing License and later became N.A.T.E. Certified and E.P.A. Refrigerant Certified for HVAC service and repair for commercial and residential HVAC appliances. Bruce has years of experience as an HVAC Technician, Boiler Technician, and Plumber. He is now General Manager for the company he has been with his entire career and oversees the Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning business for Day & Nite Plumbing & Heating, Inc.


Here in the Pacific NW, it used to be that weather cold enough to cause the pipes to freeze in our homes and businesses was rare. Now; not so much.

Now, it seems that every winter we are having those strong ‘cold fronts’ that hit us pretty regularly, and when they hit, they hit a bit harder, colder and longer. Without going through a bunch of detailed statistics, if you look closely at the numbers they seem to bear that out.

In addition to stronger and colder spells hitting us in the winters, we have also been hit with a couple of new ‘urban legends’ about ‘new’ piping that will freeze without breaking; the implication being that ‘we don’t have to worry about the pipes freezing so much now; they’ll be okay”. We may have even seen or heard of some situation where indeed, the pipes froze, the water wouldn’t flow for a couple of days, and when it warmed up the pipes thawed out and ‘no leaks’! What’s the deal?

Well it is true that in the last 10 to 15 years a ‘new’ water pipe material has come into the marketplace in North America that has gained a reputation for being somewhat resistant to freezing and it’s called ‘PEX” pipe. PEX is short for ‘cross-linked’ (x) ‘poly-ethylene’ (PE) pipe.

Cross-linked polyethylene (‘PEX’) piping is indeed a great product. In my opinion it’s a big improvement in piping materials over galvanized steel pipe, copper pipe and even PVC pipe for many reasons, not the least of which is that compared to those other piping materials, it is extremely ‘clean’ in regard to how much it will contaminate the water that it’s moving and holding. PEX piping is also somewhat flexible, like a tubing rather than a rigid pipe, and some brands of PEX have a product ‘memory’ that will allow the product to be bent, kinked, or expanded (even by freezing), and then if re-heated the ‘memory’ will restore the original shape.

DNP Galvanized pipeDNP Copper Pipe

Examples of galvanized, copper and PEX pipes

But here is the catch; no PEX pipe can be expanded and shrunk by freezing and thawing time after time after time indefinitely; at some point all PEX piping will lose its ‘elasticity’ and it could fail/break and spring a leak. Different brands will have different tolerances; but none of them will put up with that kind of activity without springing a leak at some point, and it’s foolish (and against all Plumbing Codes) to install PEX piping in a freeze zone, unprotected.

The ‘protection’ needed for PEX pipe is just like all other piping materials. The first and best protection against freezing is to always run the pipes in conditioned spaces that will be kept above freezing, like inside a wall that has a least one side of it in a heated living space. If that’s not practical or possible, then the pipe needs to be insulated and in some cases wrapped with ‘heat-tape’ and then insulated; it depends on the situation.

If ‘heat-tape’ is needed, our company always recommends a commercial grade product that is shielded and encased in a metallic sheath, so that the outer metallic sheath can be grounded properly. That way, if there were ever a short circuit, the breaker would ‘trip’ and the circuit would be opened (shut-off), preventing fires. Many, many fires are started every winter by cheap, un-grounded heat-tape over-heated and/or short circuiting.

DNP Grounded Heat TapeNon-grounded heat tape

Examples of grounded vs non-grounded heat-tape.

Over time, freezing and thawing may cause pipes to leak, even if you have the ‘new’ PEX piping in your home, condo or town-house. Don’t let a sudden cold snap take you and your plumbing by surprise. Be aware of your plumbing’s condition, and take whatever precautions are necessary for your situation…because there is nothing more unforgiving than water.
Bruce Davis Sr.
Licensed Journeyman Plumber
Licensed Electrician, HVAC/R
Electrical Administrator, HVAC/R
Certified WA State C.E.U. Instructor
Bruce Sr is President of Day and Nite Plumbing and Heating, a 60-year old family owned and operated plumbing and heating business in Lynnwood, Washington.

Bruce can be contacted at: Email: Bruce@dayandnite.net

Day and Nite Plumbing and Heating Inc.
16614 13th Ave. W.
Lynnwood, WA 98037
800-972-7000


Ductless Heat Pumps (aka Ductless Mini-Split Systems) have become the new efficient way to heat a home, especially for homeowners with all-electric homes, who rely on baseboards or electric wall heaters for home heating. The reports of efficiency and quiet operation have generated so much interest with homeowners and businesses, we’re often approached by folks who wouldn’t necessarily need a Ductless Heat Pump System.
Since they’re relatively new to our market, the level of consumer knowledge about Ductless Heat Pumps is limited when compared to other traditional heating systems like gas furnaces or boilers. As a result, we get many questions from customers trying to determine if this type of system would be a good solution for their home. These questions range from basic application, to how they operate.

So let’s start with the basics. What is a heat pump? A heat pump works just like an air conditioner. In cooling mode, (yes, they provide cooling too) a heat pump moves heat from inside your home to the outside. Unlike an air conditioning unit, a heat pump can be used to heat your home, and do it efficiently. A ductless heat pump does this by reversing the process it uses to provide air conditioning to your home. It collects heat that exists naturally in the ambient air outside and delivers it into the home. The heat that is being “pumped” out for cooling, or in for heating the home, travels through pipes containing refrigerant.
There are several types of heat pumps, including Ground Source heat pumps, also referred to as a Geothermal heat pumps. Again, heat pumps and air conditioners just move heat from one place to another. In the case of a ground source heat pump, it simply gathers heat from the ground instead of the air.
What we’ll be talking about are Ductless “Air to Air” Heat Pumps. In other words, heat pumps that move heat from one air source to another air source to heat or cool a home without the use of any ducting.
A Ductless Heat Pump provides heat or air conditioning simply by delivering it to cassettes or wall units that are mounted within the home. These wall units use a blower to blow air across the refrigerant coil concealed within the cassette, and then directly into the living space. To think of it another way, a conventional heat pump on a furnace does the same thing, except it transfers heat at a coil located in the ductwork at the furnace or air handler. The blower from the furnace turns on to blow air across the coil to transfer heat that is then distributed throughout the home via the ducting.
If you already have good ducting in your home, a ductless heat pump would not typically be the best solution. For a ducted system, one outdoor unit can provide a very cost effective way to heat and cool your home with a whole house heat pump. Some of the newer generation heat pumps like Bryant for example, are so efficient, they’re worth considering before purchasing a ductless system.
When ducting doesn’t exist, Ductless Mini Split Systems, or Ductless Heat Pumps, are a very efficient way to heat your home. The beauty of these systems is, just like the name implies, no ducts are needed. And since they run completely on electricity, no other fuel source is needed either. These two features have allowed homeowners stuck with expensive electric baseboards or electric wall heaters as the main source of heat, a way to cut energy costs and live more comfortably, with affordable heat in the winter and cooling for the hot summer days.
As I mentioned, in a Ductless system, the unit that sits outside the home can provide heat or cooling to multiple indoor units called “cassettes”. Each cassette is controlled by its own thermostat, usually a remote control with a wall mount. The advantage of each indoor unit having its own remote is the ability to provide true “zoning”, so you are able to heat one room without heating the whole house. The coils that distribute heat or cooling within the living space range from a recessed panel in the ceiling to a floor mounted wall heater. The most common unit is a rectangular cassette that mounts on a wall towards the ceiling.
The outside unit is connected to the indoor unit(s) through pipes that transport the refrigeration. This is called a line set. A common concern, especially among condo owners, is the aesthetics of the line set when surface mounted to the structure. When getting estimates, it’s important that the routing of the line set is addressed, especially if concealment is an issue. How well the unit works will often amount to the quality of the installation, proper placement, sizing of the unit, and quality of the product.
The best way to determine if a Ductless Heat Pump is the right solution for your home is to get a couple of free estimates from reputable HVAC companies in your area. This is what you should expect from a good professional consultant. They will address how many cassettes are needed to deliver heat throughout a space or multiple spaces. They will do a heat loss and heat gain analysis. And they’ll provide data that will help compare energy usage with the energy source you are currently using.
Bottom line, if you have an all-electric house, and you heat with baseboards or wall heaters, you could substantially cut your heating costs! Happy Heating…and Cooling!
Bruce Davis Jr.
General Manager
Day & Nite Plumbing & Heating, Inc.

Bruce Davis Jr. is a second generation plumber and HVAC technician. He earned his Commercial Plumbing License and later became N.A.T.E. Certified and E.P.A. Refrigerant Certified for HVAC service and repair for commercial and residential HVAC appliances. Bruce has years of experience as an HVAC Technician, Boiler Technician, and Plumber. He is now General Manager for the company he has been with his entire career and oversees the Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning business for Day & Nite Plumbing & Heating, Inc.