Am I a candidate for tankless?

The Tank Am I a candidate for tankless?

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    My 7 yr old hot electric hot water heater is seriously leaking at the bottom and must be replaced. i am wondering about tankless but have water issues: rusty, gritty water. The anode rod was removed from the HWH right at the beginning because of unbearable rotten egg odor. Now I only drain a few gallons from the bottom every other month or so and its fine. I also have a big double tank backflow water softener system (Econominder 5600) with brine tank and potassium tank, installed AFTER the anode rod removal. The HWH is in an unfinished stone basement. My main question is: will the quailty of my water have a bad effect on a tankless HWH? Will further rotten egg smell be more or less likely? I am one person in a 3BR house and don’t use much water. thanks, maggie

    Randy Schuyler

    Maybe, as long as you keep in mind that they cost about four times more than an equivalent tank-type heater. But certainly you wouldn’t have odor problems, as there is no anode in a tankless heater.

    The rusty water is probably coming from the water heater, which is now about to die because there is no anode in it. Gritty, I’m not so sure about. The softener should take out all the minerals.

    Another tank-type heater with a powered anode replacing the factory one would probably work here, but I don’t want to push that solution too hard because I sell the powered anode, so I have a conflict of interest.

    Comments, anybody else?

    Randy Schuyler


    The rust is from the well – not the HWH, (although it is certainly rusted w/out anode rod). Everyone in the neighborhood has the same orange water. Does the powered anode rod use a lot of electricity? Do plumbers know how to install it? None of them have ever mentioned such a thing. They usually suggest the aluminum/zinc anode and/or bleach. is the only thing you have against tankless the cost? There is a big tax rebate now that helps, although the gas installation is another matter. Are they very delicate and likely to breakdown? I really use very little hot water and it seems ridiculous to be heating so much of it day and night.


    msiner wrote:

    I really use very little hot water and it seems ridiculous to be heating so much of it day and night.

    How many gallon water heater do you have now? If you have a 40 gal, you can get by with a 30gal or maybe even a 20 gal if you take quick showers.

    Larry Weingarten

    Hello: You sound like a good candidate for a small Marathon heater. It’s electric, but plastic, with very good insulation, no anode and a lifetime warranty.

    Yours, Larry


    This Marathon sounds fantastic. Have you had direct experience with them?

    Larry Weingarten

    Hello: Yes, I’ve had a little experience with them. The only problem being with the elements not always holding up as they should. Energy Expert, who posts here has much more experience with them and electrical things in general. Hopefully he’ll see this thread. If you go up to the search function, you’ll be able to find what he’s said about using a Marathon heater 😉

    Yours, Larry



    I’ve had my 105 gallon Marathon now for 4 years. No problems.

    Cheapest place I’ve found to buy Marathons is

    For one or two person use look at

    The Marathon heats water like a conventional WH; it is a pressure vessel . But it is fiberglass with an inner polybutylene lining, outer polyethylene jacket, and plenty of foam insulation between the fiberglass and polyethylene. No steel tank means no anode rod.

    The Harris WH is a non-pressure vessel insulated plastic tank which holds hot water. Domestic cold water enters the tank but stays within the finned copper tube. Heat is transferred to the water in the pipe and leaves the tank as hot water. Again, no anode.

    In a standard electric WH the hot water “floats” on top of the cold. This permits you to have about 75% of nameplate gallons at near constant exiting temperature before the “hot water runs out”.

    In a Harris unit cold water is “pulled through” the hot water in the tank. This cools down the tank water. Since heat transfer is a function of differential temperature, as the tank cools, less heat is tranferred to the water in the finned tube. One would expect temperature to steadily decrease over time. My guess is a 20 gallon shower would probably be satisfactory. Since the Harris heating element is not exposed to a continuous source of minerals element life should be high.

    The Marathon would only need periodic flushing. The Harris WH may need to have water added 3 to 4 times/year but needs no flushing.

    See “how it works” and “Testimonials” on the Harris site.

    If you are a solo dweller then rewiring an electric WH from 240 volts to 120 volts would provide plenty of hot water. Power output drops to 25%, recovery is 4 times as long, and the elements will probably never burn out.

    The Marathon and Harris WHs should provide good service with poor quality water.


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