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Determining Your Commercial Building's Hot Water Needs

 November 11, 2020 |  CRE News, Property Management, Property Maintenance |  interior maintenance, commercial plumbing, multi-family property, condo, apartment

Commercial properties each have their own unique hot water needs based on their size and occupants. Much like a home plumbing system, you’ll have to determine what will work the best for you, taking into account square footage, usage and any specific features you’ll need.

What Do You Need Hot Water For?
In assessing your best option, think about what the water will be going towards. Do you own a restaurant that requires you to constantly wash dishes and utensils? Do you own a large, multi-family building with multiple baths and sinks per unit? Do you own an office space that will only need hot water occasionally? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you choose the best path.

Water Heating Fuel Types
There are three top candidates when it comes to fueling your heater: 

  • Electric water heaters are very common among homeowners and commercial property owners. They run cleaner and are easier to maintain compared to gas or oil units. While newer models have been made more efficient, they can be slightly expensive to run. Electric heaters also have the issue of longer times to recharge after being used. 
  • Oil water heaters warm the tank itself, making them faster than electric ones. However, the oil is usually stored in a side-tank and can take up more space. Oil is a scarce fuel source, which can mean higher operating and maintenance costs. You’ll also need to be cautious of the flame produced by oil water heaters while in use. 
  • Gas water heaters, like electric, are a popular choice with homeowners and landlords. As with oil units, they use a direct flame underneath the tank to quickly heat water. However, they do have a faster reheating time than electric heaters. Natural gas is more readily available as opposed to oil burning tanks. Along with cheap maintenance and operating costs, gas heaters have a longer lifespan.

Tank Storage or On-Demand
Once you’ve decided on a fuel source, you then need to choose whether to go with a tank or tankless/on-demand water heater. 

  • Tank heating is exactly what it sounds like. The water is stored in a tank so that you have what you need at the ready. Tank heaters are the most common among home and property owners, but they do have drawbacks. Because you’re heating up the whole tank, this can result in energy and water waste. They also have a finite water supply, so you’ll have to wait for it to refill. 
  • Tankless or on-demand heaters heats the water as it travels through the unit. This helps reduce waste, and decreases wait times. But the drawback to not having a tank means you’ll have less flow output. You can stretch your tankless heater to its limits if you’re trying to do multiple things at once like showering and doing laundry. One way to combat this issue is installing more units in your building.

Tank Placement
Along with considering the tank style and heat source, you also need to figure out where your water heaters will go. For instance, if you have a larger apartment building, you might opt for an in-unit heater. For smaller buildings, you may only need one tank in the basement or mechanical room.

Tank Size
You’ll need to decide on the tank size best suited to your building. Undershoot your estimate, and you’ll have tenants waiting longer for their shower to heat up, leading to water waste. If you overshoot, you’ll be heating up gallons of unused water. To get an accurate assessment of your building’s needs, consult a professional.

The last box to check off in your search for the right water heater is the price point. Consider fueling, maintenance and installation costs when making the decision. If you already have a tank system installed, making the switch to a tankless one could cost a few thousand dollars. Factor that in with usage and how many units you’ll need. It’s also about half the cost to operate a storage tank compared to an on-demand model. Lastly, payback time for an investment in tankless water heaters is around 15 years compared to 7 years for a tank.


Get Your Commercial Water Heater Checked by NPI
Making sure that your water heater runs smoothly is another way that you can cut down on costs. Find your local NPI inspector and schedule an inspection today.

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National Property Inspections, Inc., founded in 1987, is one of the oldest companies in the inspection industry. Our reputation is built on honesty, integrity and professionalism. National Property Inspections operates as Global Property Inspections in Canada.