From the Forum – Chiropractor and Tankless Water Heater

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Chiropractor and Tankless Water Heater:

“Need a chiropractor. Metro accessible would be great…thanks.”


“Tankless Water Heater

Hi Everyone – I am thinking about switching to a tankless water heater and I am looking for advice, red flags, and contractor/plumber recommendations to talk to. Here is the story: Our water heater is old and will need to be replaced soon. We currently don’t always have enough hot water going to our upstairs bathroom for 2 of us to take decent length hot showers. I have never taken a bath in this house because I am confident I couldn’t fill the tub with hot water. I just want enough hot water to take a nice, long, hot bath and on other days get a few of us through hot showers in the mornings. Finally, our water heater is located *behind* our washer/dryer. I have a hope that if we go tankless, I can recoup a little space back there. I know we’ll need to deal with our gas line, but thats all I know. Any advice? A solution other than tankless that would get me a hot bath in a deep tub? Our current water heater is about 80 gallons I believe but its not easy to check. And currently there are only 2 of us.”

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33 Comment

  • An 80-gallon tank is actually quite large and should be more than enough to take two hot showers consecutively. So I wonder if it’s something with the pipes or vertical distance traveled instead. Hopefully others can give you some thoughts or suggestions as well. Have you tried contacting anyone for estimates/suggestions/troubleshooting? My plumber also does HVAC/water heater work & could probably talk you through some options (H.D. Johnson), and my HVAC guys are good as well (Silva HVAC). Good luck!

    • Or maybe misestimating? My 40-ish gal tank is approx 5.5′ tall and maybe 2′ diameter. Two people can take hot showers at the same time, and a third soon after.

  • I love my chiro….David Bronat 202-296-1601 located near Dupont Cir metro

  • Maybe not as ideal, but I work in Bethesda (live in LeDroit Park) and my chiropractor is in Bethesda. Accessible from Bethesda station. I LOVE him! Dr. James Hook (I couldn’t stop picturing him as a pirate before I met him),

  • We got a gas-powered Rinnai brand tankless when we did our rowhouse gut reno a year ago and it is one of our favorite parts of the project (the heated stone floors in the bathrooms are close). Highly recommend – it is so crazy to just have completely unlimited hot water, makes you forget there is any other way.

  • Dr. Oliver Roberson! Advanced Chiropractic. Connecticut and K St NW. He works miracles. Hard to get an appt, but well worth it!

    Regarding the tankless, I too am in same boat, but leaning toward just getting an 80 gallon tank. Apparently they tankless have to vent directly to outside (so new hole punched through wall) (can’t use the vent currently used by the tank heater).

  • justinbc

    You shouldn’t have any problems with hot water supply with a tankless heater. And if you’re even slightly worried you can get smaller supplemental heaters to install right at the water source for extra heat. Yes, you will recoup a good bit of space, the tankless heaters are small. One consideration you may not have done is that your electrical box may need to be upgraded to handle it, if it’s an older one, and you may have to vent to outside.

  • Regarding hot water heaters, I have no experience with tankless heaters, but wanted to echo mtpresident . . . an 80-gallon tank is huge. Our family of three just replaced an old 30 gal. tank with a 40 gal. tank, which is was our plumber’s recommended size for a family of 4 (thinking for the future). We’ve never run out of hot water since installation of the new tank. We used Jiffy Plumbing & Heating and were happy. The price was on the high side $1750 (including removal/disposal of old tank), but our old heater had died with a new baby in the house, so time was of the essence and they did the job the same day I called. Brookland Plumbing does great work and gave us a much cheaper quote, but they couldn’t get to the job until a week later. Not sure if either/both do tankless installations. Good luck!

  • I have a tankless water heater … and if I take too long a shower, it shuts off. It’s located in the crawl space, so I think that’s the problem — too cold. Would love any suggestions if you have them.

    • Likely a safety mechanism for the heater. They run so hot that they can actually singe off their own bearings. If it’s gas, that could have to do with it as well, but since it’s located in a crawl space I’m guessing you’re electric.

  • Another thing to keep in mind, there are new regulations re water heaters coming in April. It’s likely you won’t be able to fit the a new 80 gallon tank in the same space under the new regs. This seems to sum it up.

  • 80 gallons is insane for 2 people. Unless you are taking 45 minute showers, there is no way that won’t provide you with enough hot water. We are running a family of 4 on a 30 gallon tank. Something is wrong with your tank- one of the elements is probably blown. That said, tankless are fine- not quite all they are cracked up to be as they tend to require a lot of maintenance. Get a good brand, don’t cheap out or you’ll regret it. It’ll cost you several thousand dollars to do the switch out. If you get into it and decide it is too expensive, look into a heat pump water heater or a Rheem Marathon.

  • I looked into tankless water heaters about a year ago. It was a close decision for me but in the end I decided on a “regular” (tank) water heater. Your decision might be different. I found they will be more efficient and save you space/money but some of the non-monetary differences are what swayed me. They are that there are minimum flow rates to get the HW to turn on – too low of a flow of water and you might not have HW. The minimum flow depends on the WH. Also, even though tankless are VERY popular elsewhere in the world, I just didn’t like to options available here/now. Hopefully that will change.

    Definitely check the gas requirements/supply lines even if replacing with a tank to make sure you’ve got enough BTUs flowing to the heater. I do my own work (and all the calculations that go with that) but any competent plumber can do the calculations. Whether tank or tankless, you don’t want to have an under-supplied HWH.

  • jim_ed

    Any idea how old the current water heater is? DC has perfectly clean water, but is chock full of minerals. The lack of hot water could be your current water heater is full of sediment, so its not giving you an actual full tank. Also, are you sure its 80? Most houses get 40 or 60 gallons at most. We have a 40 gallon tank, and its good for close to 40 minutes of hot water.
    Anyhow, feel free to buy a tankless, it’ll keep your water hot forever, but they’re more than double the price of a standard tank, and will likely need additional venting depending on where it’s at.

  • Check the label or plaque on your tank. There is a number which indicates the actual capacity of the tank in gallons and another number that indicates how many gallons of hot water you “should” be able to get out of the tank in an hour. My 50 gallon tank is supposedly able to provide 80-90 gallons of hot water in an hour. It was fine when I was using a conventional tub and shower. When I redid my bathroom I added higher capacity fixtures and a large whirlpool tub. The tank provides enough hot water for a long shower. But it does not provide enough for a hot bath in a 100 gallon tub. I am planning to switch to an 80-gallon tank, which I am sure will be fine.

    I considered going tankless but was unable to because the gas feed to my house does not provide enough BTUs to make it worthwhile. Tankless water heaters require a certain number of BTUs to heat the water that passes through them. The more the water has to be heated, the more BTUs are required. When a plumber came to give me a consult, after looking at my gas line and subtracting out the BTUs used by my furnace, the remaining BTUs were not enough to heat the water to the temperature that I would want. If you go to the manufacturer’s website, there will be charts showing how many BTUs you need depending on your hot water requirements.
    Note that I have a 1910 rowhouse. Newer construction with newer gas lines will probably provide more BTUs and this may not be a problem.

  • We installed a tankless Rinnai a year ago in our rowhouse and could not be happier. We always have hot water and have not had any water pressure issues. Getting rid of the old tank system allowed us to open up a room in the basement and turn a utility space into a livable area. It is not cheap though. We paid around $2900, all in (including install, removal of old tank, etc).

  • Dr. Jenkins at Paradigm Chiropractic right near Eastern Market is fantastic.

  • clevelanddave

    80 is huge. Something else is wrong. Tankless: we were told that it would be a problem due to increased venting needs, so make absolutely sure you’re good on that before you buy. Would suck if you bought it and found out it was impractical to use because of all the venting or other requirements.

  • HaileUnlikely

    As everyone else here has noted, you almost certainly have something wrong with your hot water heater and/or your showering habits if you can’t get two hot showers out of your 80-gallon tank. Mine is 50-gallons, is 15 years old (rated to last for 6), is located in my unheated basement, and can provide three 10-minute hot showers back-to-back-to-back on the second floor of my house with no problem. If you have gas, stop reading this post as I have no further insight. If you have electric, my opinion is that the tankless technology isn’t quite ready for prime time yet, and is likely to cost a small fortune in form of electrical upgrades unless you have significant spare capacity in your electric panel (I don’t). I’d go with a very efficient heat pump model, which will be more expensive up front but is eligible for a $500 rebate from the DC Sustainable Energy Utility if you have electric heat (for some reason the heat pump models are only eligible for the rebate for electric heat customers), buy one that is on their list of approved models (their list is very comprehensive, this part shouldn’t be a problem) and purchase it before the end of the fiscal year (I believe that’s Sept 30 but don’t take my word for it). These are so much more efficient than virtually anything that was on the market 5-10 years ago that it will pay for the price difference between itself vs. a cheaper model in at most a couple years.

  • I’d be willing to bet that your hot water heater is hooked up backwards, with the cold and hot water lines reversed. It’s not that uncommon. They can work like this for years, but they will always have lower hot water output than they should. It can stress the heating element and eventually cause it to break prematurely. An 80 gallon tank is huge – you shouldn’t be having hot water supply issues.

  • Fred Werth at Kensington Plumbing and Heating installed our tankless water heater. He was great.

  • We have a tankless water heater in our apt. We rent, so we didn’t make the choice and didn’t buy it, don’t pay for repairs, etc. but here are some pros, cons and tips for you:

    Endless hot water, you could literally shower all day and it will stay piping hot.
    Small footprint.
    Only uses energy when you are pulling water, so no wasted money keeping a tank hot. No need to turn it down on vacation.

    Slightly longer lag time of cold water flowing when you first run the hot water, but not too much more than a typical setup.
    Needs a lot of energy when you do use it. I’m not sure if it’s a similar situation with the gas models, but ours is electric and has four of our circuit breakers dedicated to it, something like 120 amps. Look into whether your current gas service will be sufficient.
    A lot of plumbers don’t know how to work on them or have a policy not to. You might have it easier with a gas model, but we needed to get an electrician and a plumber in our apartment simultaneously to repair ours. Just make sure that whoever you call to install will work on it for you. Since yours is gas, a good plumber should be able to complete everything. You also might want to consider warranties and service plans from the mfr, to make your life easier. We used Magnolia Plumbing for ours and they seemed to do a good job.

    Overall, I love ours and will definitely get one in my future homes, but just calculate the energy costs for your use, and be aware that installation and service might be a bit harder to pin down than a standard model.

  • We had a Navien NPE-180A Tankless Water Heater installed by Tankless Concepts (based in Falls Church) in January of this year. It replaced a traditional tank heater. We are very pleased with it. The wait time for hot water is about the same as the tank heater, especially in the upstairs bathroom. The tankless just keeps the hot water coming (much more so than the tank’d model it replaced). Not much data to go on, but this gas bill was the lowest yet.

    The install was less than a day and the fellow doing the install was fastidious and left no mess.

    Tankless Concepts was almost $2,000 less than the other quotes we received (one was for an older model tankless too). The only thing they do is tankless heater installations. The plumbing work is beautiful – they have a new, solder free method of joining the copper pipes.

    Highly recommended!

    • Do you live in the District? I just checked their website and it says they service Maryland and Virginia, but nothing about DC.

      • Yes, I’m in the District. No issues when I called them to set this up. They take care of permitting for DC too.

  • Axis Rehab in the underground shops at Crystal City is my go-to!

  • I love Paul Glodzik at Washington Injury and Sports Performance Clinic. 202-363-1011 and He’s helped my knee and shoulder pain more than anything else I’ve tried (and I’ve been searching for solutions for years).

  • Have you checked the setting of the thermostat on your existing water heater?

    Once, I was out of town for 3 weeks, came back and forgot I had turned it to ‘vacation’.

    Took short, warmish showers for about a week before I remembered.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    A reader sends via email:

    “I have some experience with tankless heaters that I will gladly share. My furnace & hot water heater are in my attic, I travel a good bit & since the HWH was over 10 yrs old, I investigated tankless replacement. I interviewed 3 companies & found a great company through Angie’s list, What I learned is that the average gas supply line to a old DC home is not adequate for both a furnace & tankless wh, so a larger gas line needs to be installed at a significance cost. I stuck with a traditional HWH with an auto shut off for water & gas in case of leaks. I will gladly share the companies I dealt with, just let me know.

    BTW, if your current hwh is 80 gallon, you home used to be a hotel, normal residential hwh is 30-50 gallons. “

  • Regarding tankless vs. a tank, I don’t have much to add that hasn’t been said already.

    However, I do know that not every plumber that can work in Maryland or Virginia can work in DC, as DC has different licensing requirements. So when people are recommending contractors or plumbers that they worked with in VA or MD, it’s worth confirming that they are licensing to do plumbing work in the district.

    That said, I’ve had a contractor who was NOT licensed for plumbing in the district take a look at our heater because we needed some very simple piping repairs done as he was doing work elsewhere.

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