Houston landlords are required by law to provide hot water for all tenants. This seems like an easy task, but you actually have some options to choose from. For instance, you could go with a traditional water heater that uses a tank, or you can use a tankless water heater.
Both options have benefits and drawbacks that will affect you and your tenant. However, many landlords choose to install instant water heaters to save money in the long run. Depending on your property and your tenants, an instant water heater might not be a bad idea.
If you want to weigh the pros and cons before you decide, this article is a good place to start.
1. Hard water destroys tankless water heaters
The biggest threat to a tankless water heater is hard water. When hard water is pumped through a tankless water heater, the inside becomes corroded and rusty. The more iron and iron bacteria that are present in the water, the worse the damage.
If your Houston rental property is connected to a well, you may want to skip the tankless water heater unless you have an amazing water filtration and water softener system. If you have a good water softener, like the ones made by Kinetico, you can make a tankless water heater last by performing regular maintenance.
This brings up the next point.
2. You can buy a tankless water heater flush kit for regular maintenance
When you own a tankless water heater, it’s advisable to flush it on a regular basis. How long you should wait between flushings will depend on how hard your water is, and how often the water heater gets used.
For a single person, a tankless water heater probably only needs to be flushed once every 6 to 8 months. For a family of four, it’s a good idea to flush the water heater once every three months, or more frequently if the water is extremely hard.
As the property owner, you’ll be responsible for all maintenance. This is one of the reasons landlords don’t like to use tankless water heaters. However, it’s easy to pay a professional to perform the required periodic maintenance.
3. Cheaply made tankless water heaters are a fire hazard
In 2014, over 31,000 tankless gas water heaters were recalled due to being a fire hazard. These particular water heaters were overheating and causing fires. However, this isn’t the only tankless water heater that has caused fires.
If you search for tankless water heaters on Amazon and read the reviews, you’ll find a lot of reviews from people stating their water heater caught their house on fire. It’s not just gas-powered tankless water heaters, either. Electric tankless water heaters can pose the same threat.
While any household appliance can be dangerous, tankless water heaters are usually safe when well-made. Although a high price point doesn’t always mean you’re getting value, the cheap tankless water heaters seem to have the most problems.
If you’re going to install a tankless water heater in your rental property, commit to the upfront investment and skip the units in the $250 to $500 range.
4. Tankless water heaters last longer
Standard water heaters that use a tank usually need to be replaced every ten years. A tankless water heater can last for twenty years, provided it’s well cared for and maintained.
5. You’ll get inconsistent temperatures
Even the best tankless water heaters struggle to send even amounts of hot water to multiple open taps at the same time. For instance, say someone’s doing dishes, someone else is in the shower, and a third person is brushing their teeth. The person in the shower will probably notice the inconsistent temperature more than the others.
Inconsistent temperatures won’t likely be a deal-breaker for a single person; however, it will be for a family. If you already have an instant, tankless water heater in a unit you’re about to rent to a family, you may want to consider installing a traditional water heater with a tank.
6. Tankless water heaters take up less space
Tankless water heaters come in different sizes, but they all take up less space than a traditional water heater and tank.
Some of the smallest tankless water heaters are just two feet high by a foot-and-a-half wide. You can put them up high on a shelf out of the way, or closer to the floor in a corner.
This is a huge difference compared to traditional water heaters that take up an enormous amount of space either in a dedicated closet or in the garage.
7. You’ll need additional equipment to maintain a tankless water heater
As discussed earlier, hard water will destroy tankless water heaters. The only way to eliminate hard water is with a water softener system. Water softeners eliminate the minerals by exchanging calcium and magnesium for sodium ions. The sodium comes from a brine tank you fill with salt pellets.
The downside to needing extra equipment is not being able to guarantee that your tenant will maintain the water softener system correctly. The brine tank needs to remain at least ¾ full at all times, or else the softener beads used in the ion exchange won’t be replenished with sodium.
Water softener systems also have filters that require periodic flushing. If you have a pre-filter installed, that will need to be flushed every few months as well.
8. Tankless water heaters are easy to replace and install
You’ll need to pull a permit to replace a water heater in Houston, but it’s not a big job. Most plumbers can handle it. If your property is hooked up to natural gas or propane, you’ll need to find a plumber who works with those elements.
Do you need a break from managing your tenants’ maintenance needs? Green Residential can help
Being a landlord is a tough job that requires plenty of time and energy. If you need a break from handling your tenants’ needs, our property management team can help.
If your tenants have any problems with their water heater, or if your system requires regular maintenance, we’ll handle everything for you. We’ll schedule all necessary routine maintenance tasks for your water softener system and your water heater – tankless or not.
As a full-service, professional property management company in Houston, Green Residential will handle all of your landlord duties so you don’t have to lift a finger. Contact us today for a free property analysis and to see how we can help.