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I am going to attempt to share you with as honest as I can with what is going on with water heaters and Tankless. I have been named a Tankless expert by several plumbing companies, suppliers, and manufacturers. This is my own opinion, and I am sure there are companies that would disagree. I have been installing high efficient water heating devices since the mid 1980’s. My dad Put in a High efficient boiler in our basement in Oklahoma that heated the house and heated water. It used glycol, exchangers and a tank. We had very little issues. He put one in for a customer and they had a few problems with the unit because it was outside. The Manufacturer at the time said that it could be outside ( I can’t remember if we thought that was the problem or not). Then that company went out of business, and we started installing Polaris water heaters in the early 90’s (still made today) These are up to 96% efficient and use 150,000 btu’s. They heated water quickly and had a 10 year warranty. They are a great unit, but cost around $3,000.00 just for the unit, plus install. They are also bulky and will not fit into the attic (most North Texas homes have water heaters in the attic). In 1999 I installed my first Tankless in San Diego, Ca. A customer had bought one. The salesman said it would do his whole house (2,500 sqft/ 2.5 bath) I read the specs on it, and decided it would not work. He insisted and the manufacturer said it would work. I installed it with a disclosure and (NO Warranty) It did not work as the salesman stated, but the customer was very happy with only using one fixture at a time. I installed a few others over the next few years, only when requested. I was not on board with them. Then I moved to Frisco, TX in 2003. We had a lot of people requesting them. I did research and found Takagi tankless at that time to be the best. I installed several of their units. I was still getting the run around from manufacturers including Takagi on Install. It was constantly changing. Most salesman for tankless were telling plumbers and consumers that the units could be installed in ways that were not to code and not to manufacturer installation guidelines. For example, No pan required. Several units I installed do not have a pan under them. Now that is a must. Takagi and others said you could tie a circulating pump into the unit with a aquastat and timer, then after two years, they changed their mind and said that would void the warranty. They wanted us to install a 6 gallon electric water heater or tank next to the unit to run the Circ. system. We did a few of these, and although they worked well, I don’t like the idea of having a tank with 6 year warranty on it next to a tankless. Enter Eternal Hybrid unit. I went to a continuing education class and the Gu32 was on display. I Liked the design of the tank, it reminded of boiler technology. It just made sense. A small 6.8 gallon tank was built in, and it was Stainless. It was a simple design, with few parts compared to traditional tankless. The company was also located in Garland, Tx. This meant parts locally or at least a lobby I could go stand in and scream if something went wrong. I began to study these and waited a year before installing my first. I contacted several Plumbers who had installed them, and they had nothing but great things to say. I have installed several Gu32’s and 26’s. Then Eternal phased out those units to the “C” class. More efficient, smaller, and easier to install in attics. We have several of these units installed, and have great success overall, but there have been some issues that I am not happy with. We have been trying to go through a refresher class on these units for over a year (they want to send a salesman). I want an extensive detailed class on these units. I am listed on their website and am a FAST installer, but get no updates. The manufacturer first said that we could install the PVC vent with a rubber boot directly into the existing “B” vent, then changed their mind. Then the condensate line changed from flexible to hard piped 1/2″ Pvc. In North Texas 45 minutes from their Headquarters, we were told that you do not need to install the Condensate line to a drain, unless required by local codes. When we had 4 days of freezing conditions, and the condensate lines froze and caused an E03 code. They told my customers that I didn’t install them correctly. We have also had a couple of units that restarted during the coldest temperatures when running at a high temperature (5-7 gpm’s at 80 degree rise). We are being told that the sensor is getting too hot. That we undersized the unit. I agree that the Roman tubs in both of these cases were giving too much water, and we are fixing the problem, but during the first class we took, we were told that if someone opened more water than it could heat, it would just give them a lower temperature of water. Once again, I feel like I am being told different stories from a water heater company. Other brands are doing the same thing. Navien brand has a choke in it, and restricts the flow as more demand comes on. I was recently told that for this house that I took two water heaters out of, that I should have put two tankless in. That is odd, since I contacted the Manufacturer prior to installation and told them what we were doing, and they sized it for me. If you have a tankless system, you may also experience random things that happen. This is true of all brands I have serviced. You may have to put up with ghosting electronics. There are computer boards, sensors, flow switches, etc. that can glitch. Most are self corrected issues, some require unplug and restarting, and some require replacement. We have the same issues in tanked High efficient and even with traditional tanked water heaters, pilots go out, thermocouplers, and control valves go out. I am still convinced that the Eternal Tankless hybrids are the best right now, but I am looking into other options. I think having a 15-20 gallon stainless steel tank that ties into a tankless for those extreme temperatures may be an answer and or maybe having two tankless tied together for those customers that don’t want to ever have a problem. This would allow more water than needed, and in the event that one tankless had a glitch, the other would keep the hot water on. I think it is really going to come down to communication between installers, manufacturers, and consumers. Right now, if you contact Noritz, Takagi, Rinnai, Naiven, Eternal, and others, they will all give you a different flow rate, rise, #of bathrooms, etc. that their unit will give you. Beware though, that may change at the drop of a hat, and you may be thrown under the bus as a consumer or installer. Please note, I am working with all of my customers that had an issue with the frozen condensate line to resolve the issue long term. The Eternal hybrid has a 20 year warranty on exchanger and 3 years on parts. Every other manufacturer has different warranty’s. We have a full three year warranty from our company. After that typical parts average $100.00 each plus our labor rate (Currently $175.00). We are changing we bid these, please call for pricing and consulting before purchasing, so that we may help you tailor a system for your needs.
A few people have been asking for stories of what happened during the FREEZE11. I decided there were too many to organize. Below is a PLUMBING BLOTTER of what happened. This is only from our company, not all stories are included, and we had to turn away hundreds of calls.
Monday Night, Freezing Rain started
(NO Known incidents)
Tuesday, Cold (1st full day below freezing)
water line in front yard broken
another water line borken in yard
several calls with no water to certain faucets
Wednesday (day 2 below freezing)
No water to whole house
Several outdoor water softners frozen up
Pipes in wall frozen
Washing machine drain frozen
Tankless condensate line frozen
Tankless error code (frozen condensate line)
Several Tanked water heaters with no pilots
No gas pressure to house
Whole neighborhood with no Gas
Many Many no water to certain fixtures
Thursday (Day 3 below freezing)
No hot water through faucets
Insulated pipes in walls and attics bursting
Attic temperatures below 29 degree F
T&P on water heater Burst (maybe not freeze related)
No water to house
Frozen pipes in walls
Friday (Day 4 below freezing)
Pipes that should never freeze started freezing
Insulation in walls no help
No water to house
Indoor tankless condensate lines freezing from outside in
water heater incoming water pipes frozen
No pilot on water heater
Humidifier in attic fozen
condensate lines frozen on drain off of humidifier
Attic temperature below freezing again
North Texas: This 1 every 15 year freeze has made me change my mind on what people should do to protect themselves. We have had people that have no water, no gas, some water, frozen drains, etc. Please do the following to help yourself.
1) Turn off yard sprinkler system (recommend manual valve outside)
2) Leave at least one faucet in your house at a steady trickle (both hot and cold)
3) Open cabinet doors to any inside faucets that are on outside walls, and let them trickle too.
4) Remove all outdoor hoses from outside hydrants and use foam protectors
5) If your water heater or tankless is in the attic, you may need to put a warming lamp near the piping.
6) After freeze is over, Check all plumbing systems for leaks.
We have had several calls from customers having no water. The cause has been that the main pipe in the wall froze. Once this happens, there is not much you can do until it thaws out. Keeping water moving, is the best policy to prevent this. We have also had people with gas issues, Please call your gas company and report this as an emergency. It is just too cold to be without heat. We are also offering a $60.00 post freeze checkup after the freeze is over. We will walk your house and look for any potential issues that may arise. We hope everyone stays warm.
Plumbers across the Nation are being asked to step up to the plate and start installing Multipurpose fire sprinklers in homes. Statistics show that the average time to get out of a house is 3-5 minutes before it is too late. After running a fire drill for the first time with my kids yesterday. I found out that my 3 year old will most likely hide, and my 6 year old could exit down the stairs and out, but if her door was hot, she could not even open the window in her room, it is too heavy, even if I opened it a little, she still could not open it. This really scared me. I also found out that the smoke detectors were not working properly. I change the batteries every 6 months, but have been bad testing them monthly. I will also be installing window ladders, which are a jacobs’ ladder of sorts. I don’t even know if I could climb down this thing. I have been a little skeptical of the articles that I have been reading, but now I am convinced. Construction of homes over the last 25 years has been being made with Lighter weight materials. Pressed woods, laminate, glues or now considered standard. These are most likely to burn and collapse quickly under certain temperatures. Most of our furniture contains fire retardant, but still will burst into flames at a certain temperature. Most cities have some sort of code requiring suppression systems, for larger homes. Most are now under pressure from their own Fire Marshals to make it mandatory in every home. I am currently gathering as much information as I can on local statistics, and from other areas. I will also be installing a system in my home within the next 6 months. I will post as soon as it is done. In the meantime, please comment on any story you have about fires in your home or someone you know or any comments on what you think. Bad or good. This is a very serious matter. I know of a friend of mine “Tommy Prince”, that if there had been a suppression system in Mom’s home, It would not have been completely destroyed. I thank God today that he got out safely.
It has been a BUSY couple of years at Plumbing by Jay, Inc., and I wanted to update everyone on what we are doing. Almost two years ago, we hired Sean as an apprentice. With his years in College studying to become a Mechanical Engineer combined with his experiences working in a machine shop and window company, he has fit right in working with Me. During My Surgery in June, I had to sit in the truck while Sean did most of the work, and I saw him do jobs and treat my customers, as if they were his own. I have received many compliments from customers about him, and am very grateful for his work ethic and friendship. In March, we decided to start looking for a Truck to expand our Drain cleaning side of the business, and incorporate a Leap frog method or tag team method to getting jobs done. We found that this worked very effective, but due to the economy we had to settle on a 1995 beat up plumbing van. This van has been a blessing and a curse. In the future, we hope to buy a box truck similar to mine to allow us to carry more and be more productive. Most of my customers have been very happy with our new methods, because we are able to get to things faster. The new problem that we ran into, is that I still like to work in the field. I enjoy it, and I found myself stuck answering and scheduling appointments all day on Monday and several hours throughout the week for about 41 hours out of the month. I started getting overwhelmed and I was falling behind. I was not giving the Customer service I wanted to give, and I was starting to not enjoy what I was doing. I apologize to anyone that did not get a return phone call or get one in a timely manner. I needed help. Thanks to some much needed counseling and support from my wife Faith and Sean, we decided to search for someone to help answer the phones, schedule calls, and help out. We had numerous responses, and we found Gail, a local Frisco resident. We hired her, and already we have seen a huge difference. I am now able to get more face time with my customers and I even had to time tonight to sit down and write this update. Plumbing by Jay, Inc. does not look the same that it did a few years ago, but I am glad for the changes. I have a great support system for my business and look forward to Serving Frisco, TX and surrounding areas for the rest of my Life. Thank you to all the people and Staff helping me do that, and to our customers for letting us be your Plumber for Life.
After the Enjoyment of Giving away two tickets to a Cowboys Game last year, we are doing it again. There are 3 weeks left before we close of this years drawing. Any Residential customer that used our services from August 2009 to August 2010 is already entered to win. Last years winner only used us once for a shower drain clog, and one two Tickets with Parking to Club seat level to a regular season game. This years will be the same. I can’t wait. GO COWBOYS!
I know you have been waiting a while for me to update on these Eternal Tankless Hybrid units. I officially claim them as the BEST. We have several of them installed now, and they are the real deal. Take advantage of the 30% Tax credit for 2010 and install one now. I am putting one in my own home before the end of the year. We have saved several homeowners money on gas savings. One home we recently installed one in had 3 electric water heaters, a 75 gallon, a 66 gallon, and a 50 gallon. They are now saving over $1,100.00 a year in utility costs. Visit www.eternalwaterheater.com
The new Eternal Hybrid is here. We already installed one and it is looking like its going to be a great year. What a way to start out. The First Tankless unit to live up to my expectations. You can run 5 showers at the same time on the large unit with little to no pressure loss. It is like someone has followed me around with a clip board for 15 years listening to my complaints about tankless, and then made a unit to answer them. Thank you Grand Hall for the new product. I love it already.
After being in business for myself for over 10 years now. I have come to one conclusion. You have to be willing to change. The business that I started in California 10 years ago, looks nothing like the one I have in Frisco, TX. It is difficult to change, but you have to do it. My previous website wasn’t generating business so I had to scrap it, and try something else. I liked the old one and it is still up at www.plumbingbyjay.com/oldsite more of a reminder to me that everything is constantly changing. Just two years ago I was installing Takagi tankless water heaters all of the time, and now the Eternal hybrid is the way to go for most homes. Toilet repair kits that used to work for me, no longer work. I used to install mostly copper, but now install Pex. Five years ago, I didn’t have a good toilet to recommend, and now I have American Standard Champion and Dual flush. All of the codes have changed and Pricing of Most materials have quadrupled in the last 4 years. Insurance, fuel, permits, and licenses have all gone up. It now takes 8 years to become a Master plumber. It has become increasingly more difficult to stay in Business. When we opened in Frisco, TX 6.5 years ago, it took 1/4 of the sales that it takes today to operate a successful business. If wasn’t willing to change, then I would most likely go out of business. I am looking foward to the next 5 years, but I know I will have to change some of the things that I currently do.