The Pros And Cons Of Tankless Water Heaters

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Question: I just moved into a manufactured home and the hot water heater is insufficient for my family’s needs. We’re considering a tankless water heater. Would this work?

Linda, Durango, Colo.

Answer: We like tankless units. They’ve come a long way since their inception and can save you money without sacrificing a comfortable shower. You could simply invest in a larger water heater similar to the type you already have, or you can try a tankless water heater. If you do decide on a tankless unit make sure to purchase the gas-fired type. The electric ones are slow to heat up and very expensive to operate. One thing to consider about tankless water heaters is gas supply. They use a great deal more fuel than a conventional water heater — about triple the amount. Because the tankless only needs to run when hot water is needed, and doesn’t have the constant pilot light, you end up using less energy. To convert to tankless you will probably have to increase the size of the gas line from your gas meter to the unit. This could be terribly expensive.

Question: I own a home that was built in about 1954. It has four-inch square aluminum tiles on the walls of the bathroom and kitchen. Are these tiles still being made? Also, who makes them? What kind of adhesive is used to glue them to the wall?

Shannon

Answer: Aluminum tile was extremely popular in the 1940s and 1950s with the advent in popularity of the then “new wonder metal.” We’re surprised they didn’t make diapers out of the stuff. Who knows, maybe they tried.

We made a call to the Tile Heritage Foundation (THF), the nonprofit tile research group in Healdsburg, Calif., and spoke with Sheila Menzies who recently began researching the history of aluminum tiles. Sheila tells us that the product was once manufactured by a company in Fresno, Calif. She asked us to send her a copy of your letter and advised us that when her research was complete she would forward her findings to us. Although the foundation has a few pieces of aluminum tile, they are being kept for archival purposes and aren't available for sale. The foundation not only does research on tile, but also has a list of companies that supplies old tile styles, call (707) 431-TILE.

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