tankless water heater - install before kitchen remodel or after

elphaba_gwSeptember 11, 2012

Our home is a 1 story 1800 sq ft older home with a pier and beam foundation that was built in 1935 in Houston, TX. There has been a lot of work done - foundation, electrical, new sewer line, hardie board siding, A.C. ducts replaced, and other mainly exterior stuff. The interior looks pretty bad. A contractor will soon be starting on our hall bath and as part of the job, he will be replacing galvanized and pvc with copper. We hoped we would follow this job with the master bathroom remodel but after an inspection, we are wondering whether we should address the galvanized pipe issues first. We have lots of galvanized pipe including a bunch in the attic where the hot water heater is currently installed.

My question mainly concerns the sequence of work that needs to be done. We don't want to have it all done at once. Hoping to split into tasks but this is what makes things difficult.

I hope to interview a plumber with my questions but I'm concerned that it will be in his interests to do the whole job at once. I would like to know what I would be losing (or gaining) by splitting the job into separate parts and I would also like to know what sequence to do the parts.


1. If we want a tankless water heater (gas), should we have it installed before the master bathroom and kitchen remodel? Can this task be separated out from the other jobs for the other areas (see list below)? If so, should the tankless water heater come first and then master bathroom and then kitchen? (Our gas pipe has the required diameter for most of the run but underneath kitchen, it needs "enhancement" I think, plumber will hopefully confirm.

List of jobs to be done (none of these tasks will be DIY):

1.) Move gas hot water heater out of the attic and replace with an external tankless water heater downstairs on side of house outside kitchen.

2.) We currently have a major hall bath remodel coming up soon that includes having all the galvanized (and PVC) in the hall bath replaced with copper, at least in this bathroom.

Washer and Dry are also being moved out of the kitchen and installed in the hallway outside the hall bath. Copper plumbing will be used with washer/dryer also.

3.) We had hoped to move next to the master bath remodel where a small shower will be replaced with a tub. And galvanized replaced with copper.

4.) Master bath is adjacent to kitchen which is also scheduled for total demo and remodel. Also have galvanized in kitchen to be replaced with copper plus a small sink added and misc other plumbing tasks standard for kitchen remodels. Will not be using gas stove.

5.) We also hope to have a new roof installed.

6.) Also convert current vented attic to unvented/conditioned attic - using spray foam.

7.) Floors need refinishing and lots of painting and bookcases installed in living room and study.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

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Sophie Wheeler

I think I'd rather move that tackle all of those projects. Or do a teardown and start over. It might be cheaper. Really. Retrofitting is always harder and more expensive to do than to do new while all of the walls are open.

I'd also not waste my money on copper unless your water is perfect. Do a search on pinhole leaks and copper piping. I'd do CPVC and save the several thousand to put into the 150K worth of projects you've got planned. Most of the plumbing projects can be done as standalone projects, but you will probably get a much better price if you have someone do it all at once.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 12:06AM
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All that BS about pinholes and switching to CPVC is non-sense. I subscribe to about 5 different plumbing industry trade journals and they keep on top of the research on pinholes.....

Out of the 7 leading causes of pinholes in copper, 6 are directly related to the installation practices of the installer....I would have absolutely no hesitation in installing copper and writing a 60 yr warranty on it.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 12:21AM
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Are you living in the house while all this is going on? If not living there, I'd do 2, 3, and 4 together while the walls are open.

Save 5, 6, and 7 for later.

I suppose you could have the plumber rough in for the tankless while doing the first part and save the tankless for later.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 3:36PM
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Thanks for the info.

Can we have an old style gas water heater (in the attic) AND tankless water heater downstairs servicing the same house and gradually phasing out the fixtures (room by room) with end result of eliminating the old gas water heater after remodel complete?

This post has helped me realize that my main desire is to try to do this in phases rather than one job (which I'm sure would be cheaper.) For one reason, the smaller jobs help us evaluate the contractor and decide whether we want to continue using him (he gets to evauate too). It also helps us keep from having so many "change orders" before job is done as we learn more about our 77 year old house.
(think I will cross post this in the "old house" forum as well)

background: I think we are committed to going forward because we LOVE our neighborhood but neighboring homes are old like ours so besides prices being quite high though footprints are small (in center of major metro area), we are afraid we would buy another old home that was in worse shape than ours and would still need to do work.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 3:59PM
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WOW! So, we just moved into a pier and beam 1600 sqft home that is old in the metro houston area as well! We started our remodel with the kitchen, as the bathroom floor was too intimidating to even think about. (the classic 1940's tile laid over 5 solid inches of pure concrete that has to be jackhammered out) Im just dying to know what neighborhood your home is in, I haven't seem many Houstonians on this blog! Did you think about keeping the tank before you decided to phase it out with a tankless? Do you just need more space? We are trying to get rid of our tank thats currently in a pantry in our kitchen, but we don't know wether to go for the expensive tankless or move the tank to the attic. You've got a lot of projects, Im assuming cost in not an issue for the tankless?

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 10:45PM
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