Armchair Builder

Tankless Water Heaters Can Be Bad in Disasters

Tankless Water Heater

Tankless Water Heater

Tankless water heaters have a number of great benefits.  They are energy and space efficient, easy to maintain, and they last a long time.  So, why are they so bad to have in a disaster?  As a sixteen year home building veteran who believes in using quality products to build homes that last, I’ve been preaching about the benefits of tankless water heaters for years.  So why did I feel compelled to highlight a potential problem with the newly popular product?

It all started when I volunteered to become a CERT member in my community here in Hawaii.  In case you’re new to CERT like I was a few months ago…CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team.  After 9/11, George Bush created Citizen Corps as a way to help fund and coordinate volunteer activities to help make our local communities safer and better equipped to handle an emergency situation.  Citizen Corps provides funding to support the volunteers that make up local Community Emergency Response Teams.  These teams are trained on how to respond and help their local community in the event of a massive disaster like a hurricane, earthquake, tornado or tsunami.  The recent disaster in Japan helps us realize that even the most advanced, well prepared countries can be severely impacted by one of these events.

So what does this volunteer emergency response group training have to do with tankless water heaters?  Well, the classes are taught by local fireman.  When a natural disaster strikes and a fire breaks out in a building, they say to turn off all utilities to the building.  You turn off the gas…to prevent explosions. You turn off the electric…to prevent shock (water and electricity don’t work well together).  You turn off the water.  What?  You turn off the water?  Why?  This totally didn’t make sense to me.  A fireman, standing up in front of us, telling us to turn off the water in the event of a fire?  Turns out my ears weren’t going bad.  Yes, they instruct you to put any small fires out with an extinguisher and shut the main water supply off to the building in a major, natural disaster.

Water Heater w/Tank

Water Heater w/Tank

Turns out, one of the biggest problems in a natural disaster is the lack of clean water to drink.  When disaster strikes, water lines become contaminated in the community because of pressure drops in the lines.  Basically, the pressure in the line isn’t enough to keep contaminates from leaching into the pipe.  These pressure drops are caused by water main breaks and loss of power to pump stations.  By turning off the main water supply to your home, you isolate your home’s water supply from the contaminated public water system.  They say the average person needs a gallon of drinking water per day.  If you have a family of four, you will need twenty-eight gallons of water per week.  So if you have a fifty gallon hot water heater tank in your home, your family could live almost two weeks by drinking that water.  If you’ve already switched over to tankless water heaters, you will need another way to store or treat your drinking water in a disaster.

Tankless water heaters are still a great choice.  However, if you’ve been putting off the purchase until your old tank reaches the end of its useful life, don’t stress over it.  The old tank may save your family in the event of a disaster.  If you’ve already made the switch to tankless water heaters, go ahead and put your emergency preparedness kit together including all the water treating tablets you might need in a disaster.  As they teach you in CERT training, it’s not a matter of if we will have a disaster, it’s a matter of when.

RSS Feed

4 Comments for Tankless Water Heaters Can Be Bad in Disasters

Is It Time to Replace My Water Heater? | Water Heater Problems | February 8, 2012 at 5:04 pm

[…]    By Konstantin Lozovoy All households require hot water, so your water heater is one of your most ess… to hold heated water, but tankless heaters which heat on demand, are also available. All of these […]

Tankless Water Heaters Can Be Bad in Disasters – Armchair Builder … | Emergency Response Preparedness | February 8, 2012 at 8:41 pm

[…] the original post: Tankless Water Heaters Can Be Bad in Disasters – Armchair Builder … ← UDistrict CERT Training 2012: Emergency Kit | UDistrict […]

Tankless Water Heaters: Luxurious Homes And Green Designs | Adjustable Rate Mortgage Refinance | February 12, 2012 at 7:02 am

[…] water heaters at and read more energy-saving tips. When you browse marketing materials on extravagant residences, chances are you don't really pause an…s. Recently completed improvements in a group of special areas across the country is turning this to […]

Plumbing Union City | February 23, 2012 at 12:15 am

I can see that you put allot of time and effort into your blog and I admire the detailed information that you have been posting. I will bookmark your blog and come back to read for more! Thanks for a great read!