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Tankless Water Heater Repair and Maintenance

Don (01/23/2015): 

Until a couple of weeks ago, I didn't know that the tankless hot water heaters used in most of the townhomes required service. My neighbor's became clogged with mineral deposits, leaked, and had to be replaced. The cost to replace the unit is about $2,900. Upon learning this, I called PEED plumbing (they installed my hot water heater) and asked for the unit to be serviced. Servicing entails pumping white vinegar through the heat exchanger to remove the mineral deposits, and cleaning the filter on the unit. According to PEED, this type of periodic maintenance is required. The typical cost for this service is $360. PEED is willing to do the service for $250 if a group of residents gets together to schedule maintenance on their hot water heaters. To schedule service with PEED, call 571-229-1234 and ask to have your unit serviced by Paul (who specializes in these heaters and serviced my unit). To offer this discount, PEED would like to schedule several services on the same day. Of course, other plumbers can also do the service. (FYI, I get no commission from PEED for your work, nor am I endorsing them versus other plumbing firms. I did receive the discounted rate.)

Ken (01/29/2015): 

I would like to thank you for sharing the information on the Rinnai heater. I am happy that Paul came to clean our tank as it was clearly not clean, to say the least (and I got the discount mentioned).

Andy (03/10/2015):

I'm wondering if you have ever had this experience before and how you resolved it. 


I had Peed Plumbing, who was the original contractor for the plumbing in our neighborhood, come out to fix some of my toilets about two weeks ago.  At the time, I was told that the work carried a 1 year warranty, which is in writing on the purchase ticket.  Two of the toilets are still not working properly, so today we called for warranty service. 


Apparently, yesterday, Peed Plumbing's service division was taken over by Metcalfe Plumbing.  While there is a splashy recorded greeting when you call explaining that Metcalfe has acquired Peed and will continue the tradition of excellent service from a family owned business, Metcalfe will not honor Peed's warranties. 


This is completely alien to me.  When a business buys another business, as a corporate successor the warranty generally transfers to the new company.  And, as a practical matter, the new company, which has just spent lots of money to buy the old company's customer goodwill, does not usually want to destroy that goodwill immediately by not honoring a warranty.  In fact, the Peed sales ticket includes the warranty contract which states that it transfers to successor corporations. 


So the upshot is that, just 2 weeks after providing me service with a written one-year warranty, it is possible that the warranty will not be honored.  When pressed, Metcalfe's receptionists will tell you that they've been told to say that Metcalfe purchased Peed's phone number and service business, not its liabilities.  They will tell you that Metcalfe is ready to help you and will offer you a 10% discount, but their price for a service call just to have someone look at the issue is much higher than Peed's ($89 vs. $59).  Only after I spoke with a supervisor did I learn that Peed in fact still exists in some form and he provided me with a number to deal with Peed.  Of course that number is just a voicemail so who knows if they will call back.  But if Peed still exists, they should be bound by the warranty. 


I see Peed Plumbing trucks in our neighborhood often.  I'd bet there are others in the neighborhood who could get caught in this.  

Jean (05/06/2015):

We paid only $595 for replacing almost entire unit of the Rinnai water heater.  Since there was a neighbor who paid a lot of money for fixing the water heater, I am sharing our experience with all of you.

Our Rinnai water heater had been leaking water for weeks.  We called Peed Plumbing, which was bought out by CroppMetcalfe, to look at the water heater.  Peed Plumbing said that the "heat exchanger" was broken.  Peed found out from Rinnai that the part is under the 10 year warranty and that Rinnai would send a heat exchanger to Peed Plumbing (Rinnai sends their parts only to a professional installer.).  


However, Peed Plumbing's estimate to install the heat exchanger was $1,299.  If Peed Plumbing buys a new water heater and install it for us, they would have charged $5,200.


However, we found on Rinnai's website that there is a Rinnai authorized repair shop in Falls Church called "Tankless Concepts" that charged $595 for the heat exchanger installation (If the water heater is located in a narrow space, they charge $695.).  As a result, we asked Tankless Concepts to install the heat exchanger after going through a hassle of transferring the exchanger from Peed to Tankless.  During the heat exchanger installation, Tankless found out the "burner" was rusty because of the water leakage.  Tankless requested Rinnai to send a burner and Rinnai sent a burner to Tankless for free.  Tankless installed the burner for free when they came out for the second time. 


When I observed during the installation, the heat exchanger and burner are the entire water heater system except the outside cover and wires in the heater.  


Peed's estimated time for the heat exchanger installation was about 5 hours.  However, Tankless took about 2 hours to install everything.   According to Tankless, if technicians don't know the water heater system, they would take more than 2 hours.


I hope the information helps anyone who may have a problem with the water heater.  

David (02/09/2016):

Q. (@David) I have a Rinnai R85 tankless water heater which is close to 10 year-old. It started to leak water in the last few days. There is a video clip showing water leaking from the unit. Could you recommend what parts need to be replaced and the estimate of the cost?

A. (@Mona) Try: Tankless Concepts in Falls Church. Our water heater was still under warranty last year. They replaced the entire unit and we only paid $595 for the service. That's the same price they charged in our neighborhood last year. Call them asap before  the water damages other parts of the system and before the warranty runs out. I remember we were pushing very close to the warranty expiration date. Only authorized Rinnai dealers can order a replacement unit at no charge. Don't go to non authorized dealers.  

A. (@Linda - Tankless Concepts) Our technician says that it is the heat exchanger leaking water into the fan. 

Heat exchanger - no charge
Fan - $140
Labor - $595 - $695

Q. (@David) Could you provide an estimated cost to replace the existing one with RL94i?

A. (@Linda) The estimated cost for replacing your current Rinnai with a new RL94i tankless water heater is $2417.70.  Please note that the RL94i is considered a standard efficiency unit.  The high-efficiency units (RUC80i, RUC90i, and RUC98i) would require all new venting and are more expensive. 

Q. (@David) Could you also provide an estimated cost to replace the existing one with RL75i?


A. (@Linda) The RL75i is $200 less than the RL94i.


Q. (@David) Our current one is R85. Is RL75i smaller than R85, and RL94i larger than R85? What are the differences between RL75i and RL94i? 

A. (@Linda) The RL94i is comparable to the R85i.  The difference between the RL75i and RL94i is the flow rate (gallons of hot water produced per minute).  The RL94i is more appropriate for homes with 3 or more full baths or homes with large soaking bathtubs or fancy showers with multiple shower heads.


Q. (@David) BTW, what are the Permit Fees on the estimated proposal?  

A. (@Linda) Technically, a permit and county/city inspection is required when installing a new appliance, even if it is a replacement.

Note: (@David) Got the water heater fixed today. The technician from Tankless Concepts replaced the heat exchanger (a component). I was told the other components are in good shape. The job was done in about 1.5 hours. The cost is $595.

The technician said the tankless water heater needs service or maintenance every two years.


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Last update: 03/29/2016