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Old 12-14-2015, 06:52 PM   #1
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Tankless Heater and Water Softener Questions


Hello!

I need some help. I have a hot water heater, tankless electric w/o gas. It has two electrical lines going in at top, no gas venting and no pressure release valve either. Just two electric lines on top, and a water inlet & outlet at bottom.

Here's the manual for review, if it helps:
http://www.stiebel-eltron-usa.com/pd...tempraplus.pdf

In there #6 says that it doesn't need a P&T.


So a couple questions. I have had this two years and haven't flushed it, water isn't too hard; but it is starting to get a bit of scale and I want to flush it out. I heard vinegar is great way to do this, and I can get a valve to make this quick and easy to do. I'm looking at this:

http://www.menards.com/main/plumbing...freeFormRowId=


My questions:

1) Since I don't need T&P, can i just plug up that hole? I don't have a nearby drain to drain it to, so not much I can do?

2) I thought the valves switch, meaning that water goes from top to bottom, but when turned on the main valve it goes to the isolated (forward facing) valves. But; it appears to always let water go through. Plumber said "these usually have a diaphragm that is pressure based" and that it'd be fine.

I don't want the descale solution going back into lines if he's wrong, plus, I already have super low pressure in winter; anything to affect that would be an issue. Even the slightest loss would be an issue.

3) One more question, regarding a water softener and whole house filter. My water is not very hard, seeing as I've only had to descale this once in two years. Can I hook up a house filter without a water softener? The house filter plugs in easily, and would only be to protect the water heater, the water softer would be difficult for me to put in, it would include rerouting plumbing and electrical to install. Is this doable, and will a $50 filter help with the water heater at all?


And, my last question

4) I have PEX pipe going to outlet and inlet on water heater, no problems. That is until I try to unscrew the fittings. The crimp of the pex doesn't let me unscrew the fittings. Last time I needed to change filter i had to cut the pex, unscrew the end. When I changed small filter screen I then made mistake of trying to screw in pex pipe. Wouldn't turn enough, too stiff.

I had to cut another two inches off, put the nylon tape on, put an unconnected fitting on by screwing it in, and only THEN putting the pex to that already installed fitting and crimp it.


Is there no way to use pex pipe and be able to thread/unthread it? The only fittings I see at all hardware store are this type:

http://www.lowes.com/pd_314721-61002...d=3851781&pl=1


Are there any that are non-captive threaded meaning I can rotate it after crimping it on? I haven't done much pex work so I might be completely overlooking a common sense solution; but it surprises me that I wouldn't be able to undo fittings without cutting hose to allow the pipe to spin.

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Old 12-14-2015, 10:21 PM   #2
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I can't answer all you questions, but I do have a tankless water heater (gas, not electric). I really question your statement that your unit needs no T&P valve. Mine certainly does. As far as using a whole-house filer in lieu of a softener, that's comparing apples and oranges. A filter does absolutely nothing to correct hard water.

You seem a bit confused about descaling. When I installed my unit, I also installed a service valve kit, which makes it quite simple to isolate the heater from the rest of the plumbing and establish a flowpath for descaling. That said, I have a softener, and have never had to descale the unit in the five years it's been operating. Also, there's no reason you should have to cut or disconnect any piping in order to descale.
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Old 12-15-2015, 10:52 AM   #3
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Thanks! Yes, I understand the water softener will be needed for hard water; but the water in my area seems to be pretty moderate according to testing results from water co. I was asking about home house filter without the water softener because I've never heard/seen one without the other.

I just want to protect the water heater; and I'm not too worried about hard water than I am from the sediment that might get in there. Clog the thimble sized screen, etc.

Thanks for the assist.

On the isolater kit, did that seem to affect your water flow in any way?
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Old 12-15-2015, 11:47 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdm001 View Post
Thanks! Yes, I understand the water softener will be needed for hard water; but the water in my area seems to be pretty moderate according to testing results from water co. I was asking about home house filter without the water softener because I've never heard/seen one without the other.

I just want to protect the water heater; and I'm not too worried about hard water than I am from the sediment that might get in there. Clog the thimble sized screen, etc.

Thanks for the assist.

On the isolater kit, did that seem to affect your water flow in any way?
Actually, while I've had a softener in several houses, I've never had a filter. Are you on a well, or city water? Sometimes well water can have a lot of sediment, especially if the pump is set too close to the bottom of the well. If you really do have a sediment issue, a filter would be in order. There are also carbon filters designed to remove odors from the water. I've never needed one of those.

As for the service valve kit affecting the water flow, it doesn't at all. The kit is nothing more than the heater inlet and outlet valves you'd have to have anyway, plus two more valves to make connecting the tubing/hoses for descaling easier. But the fact is, our tankless has been in service for almost 6 years and I've never seen the need to descale it. That's because we have a good softener.

An interesting sidebar: there's a big KOA campground a few miles from us, which uses extremely hard city water. I know the Maintenance Manager. Somebody who wasn't thinking had tankless heaters installed for all the four or five bath houses (two for each). A whole-facility softener system would be prohibitively expensive, so there isn't one. As a result, all eight or ten tankless units have to be descaled ONCE A MONTH. The place probably buys white vinegar in 55-gallon drums.
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Old 12-15-2015, 12:47 PM   #5
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Whoa that's crazy. Yeah I'm hiring a plumber to see if they can find an easier way to install water softener, the only place I find doesn't have easy access to water and power; but maybe they know another location or idea to re-route. I can install the water softener just before the water heater fairly easy; but that'd mean only our hot water would be affected. Might as well do whole house at that point.
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Old 12-15-2015, 01:11 PM   #6
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If the water company test results don't indicate a hard water issue, you might not need the water softener . I would spend the few bucks to have the water in your house tested and make the softener decision based on that. No sense in spending money you don't have to.
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Old 12-16-2015, 05:24 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdm001 View Post
Whoa that's crazy. Yeah I'm hiring a plumber to see if they can find an easier way to install water softener, the only place I find doesn't have easy access to water and power; but maybe they know another location or idea to re-route. I can install the water softener just before the water heater fairly easy; but that'd mean only our hot water would be affected. Might as well do whole house at that point.
If your'e going to install a softener, it really should be piped so as to soften the whole house, except for perhaps your outdoor faucets. If physical size is a concern, there are units much smaller than the tall Culligans with a separate brine tank. A brand I installed in one of my houses was Water Boss. The unit was smaller than the typical dorm-sized refrigerator. They're also less expensive than a Culligan.

In my limited experience with installing only three or four softeners, the thing that most affected where to place them wasn't water or electric, but rather where to have the thing drain to. This was most critical in houses that had no basement or crawl space.
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Old 12-16-2015, 09:24 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by md2lgyk View Post
If your'e going to install a softener, it really should be piped so as to soften the whole house, except for perhaps your outdoor faucets. If physical size is a concern, there are units much smaller than the tall Culligans with a separate brine tank. A brand I installed in one of my houses was Water Boss. The unit was smaller than the typical dorm-sized refrigerator. They're also less expensive than a Culligan.

In my limited experience with installing only three or four softeners, the thing that most affected where to place them wasn't water or electric, but rather where to have the thing drain to. This was most critical in houses that had no basement or crawl space.
Yes, same here. I can run electric, pain in the butt but I can put in a junction box of a somewhat close line and jumper in an outlet. But, cutting into the main line with a bypass looks a bit tricky. I'd have to run about 15-20 feet, go around our furnace, etc.

I'm re-mapping all my water lines to see if I can find another place that might have better access. Only one right way to do it I guess... the right way.
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Old 12-16-2015, 01:41 PM   #9
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Salt water softeners do not remove scale. All they do is change taste and add tds to water.

Many factors effect how much scale builds in any system. Only a full water analasys will give you the information you require to obtain the water quality you want.
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Old 12-17-2015, 06:09 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Protocol. View Post
Salt water softeners do not remove scale.
I beg to differ. I once noticed that my usally pristine stainless steel dishwasher was suddenly starting to get mineral deposits. I was puzzled for a while until I found the cause: while painting my laundry room, I had unplugged the softener to get the cord out of the way, and forgot to plug it back in. After I did, the dishwasher was pristine again in just a couple of days.
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Old 12-18-2015, 07:44 PM   #11
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Just because your softener did something for you does not mean it will do something for everybody.

Salt water softener put in about twice as much tds as they take out in hardness. Not only that, but water quality is a balance of several factors, and temperature also plays a role.
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