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Heating water accounts for up to 30 percent of the average home’s energy budget. Some makers of gas-fired tankless water heaters claim their products can cut your energy costs up to half over regular storage heaters. So is it time to switch?

Probably not. Gas tankless water heaters, which use high-powered burners to quickly heat water as it runs through a heat exchanger, were 22 percent more energy efficient on average than the gas-fired storage-tank models in our tests. That translates into a savings of around $70 to $80 per year, based on 2008 national energy costs. But because they cost much more than storage water heaters, it can take up to 22 years to break even—longer than the 20-year life of many models. Moreover, our online poll of 1,200 readers revealed wide variations in installation costs, energy savings, and satisfaction.
With the help of an outside lab, we pitted Takagi and Noritz gas-fired tankless water heaters against three storage water heaters. We didn’t test electric tankless heaters because many can’t deliver hot water fast enough to replace a conventional water heater if ground­water is cold. Even in areas with warm groundwater, most homeowners would need to upgrade their electrical service to power a whole-house tankless model.
Our tests simulated daily use of 76 to 78 gallons of hot water. That’s the equivalent of taking three showers, washing one laun­dry load, running the dishwasher once (six cycles), and turning on the faucet nine times, for a total of 19 draws. While that’s considered heavy use compared with the standard Department of Energy test, we think it more accurately represents an average family’s habits. We also ran more than 45,000 gallons of very hard water through a tanked model and a Rinnai tankless model to simulate about 11 years of regular use.
Here’s what else we found:

Water runs hot and cold Manufacturers of tankless water heaters are fond of touting their products’ ability to provide an endless amount of hot water. But inconsistent water temperatures were a common complaint among our poll respondents. When you turn on the faucet, tankless models feed in some cold water to gauge how big a temperature rise is needed. If there’s cool water lingering in your pipes, you’ll receive a momentary “cold-water sandwich” between the old and new hot water. And a tankless water heater’s burner might not ignite when you try to get just a trickle of hot water for, say, shaving.

Nor do tankless water heaters deliver hot water instantaneously. It takes time to heat the water to the target temperature, and just like storage water heaters, any cold water in the pipes needs to be pushed out. And tankless models’ electric controls mean you’ll also lose hot water during a power outage.

Up-front costs are high The tankless water heaters we tested cost $800 to $1,150, compared with $300 to $480 for the regular storage-tank types. Tankless models need electrical outlets for their fan and electronics, upgraded gas pipes, and a new ventilation system. That can bring average installation costs to $1,200, compared with $300 for storage-tank models.

Tankless units might need more care During our long-term testing, an indicator on the tankless model warned of scale buildup. We paid $334 for special valves and a plumber to flush out the water heater with vinegar. Many industry pros recommend that tankless models be serviced once a year by a qualified technician. Calcium buildup can decrease efficiency, restrict water flow, and damage tankless models. Experts suggest installing a water softener if your water hardness is above 11 grains per gallon. Ignoring this advice can shorten your warranty.

Efficient storage models are priceyWe also tested the $1,400 Vertex, a high-efficiency storage water heater by A.O. Smith. The manufacturer claims its installation costs are similar to a regular storage model. But its high cost offsets much of the roughly $70 per year the Vertex will save you. Instead, we recommend buying a conventional storage water heater with a 9- or 12-year warranty. In previous tests, we found that those models generally had thicker insulation, bigger burners or larger heating elements, and better corrosion-fighting metal rods called anodes.

Posted: September 2008 — Consumer Reports Magazine issue: October 2008


Kitec is a plumbing system  that was manufactured by a Canadian corporation named IPEX sold in the  United States until IPEX discontinued the product line in 2007.   Kitec became a popular alternative to copper in the mid-1990’s due  to its inexpensive cost and simple installation. IPEX marketed Kitec  as a rugged, corrosion-resistant alternative to copper that would hold  up under aggressive water conditions.

The Kitec plumbing system consists  of both pipe and fittings. Kitec water pipe was manufactured as a composite  cross-linked polyethylene (“PEX”) and aluminum (“AL”) pipe,  whereby a thin, flexible aluminum layer was “sandwiched” between  inner and outer layers of PEX plastic.  Thus, Kitec water pipe  was commonly referred to as “PEX-AL-PEX” pipe. Kitec pipe and fittings  were connected together using either a crimped aluminum or copper ring  or a compression fitting using a locking nut and split ring.


In 2005, Kitec fittings became  the subject of a state class action lawsuit filed against IPEX in Clark  County, Nevada. Kitec fittings were for the most part made of brass,  which is mainly composed of copper and zinc. The Clark County lawsuit  alleged that Kitec fittings failed because of a chemical reaction called  dezincification. As alleged in the Clark County lawsuit, when hot and/or  “aggressive” water flowed through the brass fittings, the zinc leached  out of the fittings, thereby weakening the structural integrity of the  brass and, ultimately, causing failure in the fittings.

The Clark County lawsuit only  concerned Kitec fitting failures occurring in that jurisdiction, and  did not concern Kitec piping product, or Kitec fitting failures occurring  outside of Clark County, Nevada.  However, failures of Kitec hot  water pipe and fittings have been reported across the United States,  prompting the filing of multiple federal nationwide class action lawsuits  and investigations concerning the manufacturing process and composition  of Kitec hot water pipe. During the Kitec hot water pipe manufacturing  process, IPEX added an “antioxidant” to the PEX, which is a product  intended to prevent the PEX from quickly corroding under the effects  of light, oxygen, heat, and water exposure. In the case of Kitec hot  water pipe, it appears that the antioxidant is rapidly depleting from  the PEX, resulting in separation of the PEX-AL-PEX layers, corrosion  of the PEX and the aluminum core and, ultimately, premature failure  of the pipe.


A flood is one of the most  disastrous events that can occur to a home, given the damage that invasive  water can do to a home’s structure, appliances and furniture.   There have been numerous failures of Kitec fittings and piping components  reported across the United States, often resulting in severe damages  to homeowners (see map of affected states, below). Given the available  failure data, it is perhaps not a matter of if your Kitec Plumbing  System will fail, but when.


Identification of Kitec plumbing  should be performed by a qualified plumber.

IPEX manufactured Kitec pipe  in two primary colors for the interior of a home: blue for the cold  water side and orange for the hot water side. A typical sample length  of Kitec pipe prominently displays that it was manufactured by IPEX  in Canada, along with its pressure rating and other information (see  sample photographs of Kitec hot water pipe, below). Kitec fittings are  likewise prominently stamped with “Kitec” and the place of manufacture  on the obverse side of the fitting, (often Taiwan, as shown in the sample  photographs, below) and rating agency information on the inverse side.

Contractors who plumbed homes  with nonmetallic plumbing systems often affixed yellow stickers to warn  electricians not to ground the electricity near the nonmetallic plumbing  system. Homes that were plumbed with Kitec may have a yellow sticker  inside the electrical panel box or on their boiler (see sample photograph,  below). If you find this sticker in your electrical panel box or on  your boiler, it is likely that your home is plumbed with Kitec  or another nonmetallic plumbing system. You should only open your electrical  panel box if you have experience with its safe use.

The proper way to determine  whether your home has a Kitec plumbing system is to have a qualified  plumber inspect your home. In many cases it may be necessary to make  drywall penetrations to determine what type of plumbing is installed.

By Natalia on April 2, 2010 |

Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Spend more time with the family.
  2. Take more exercise – Get fit.
  3. Lose (loose!) weight.
  4. Give up smoking (again).
  5. Get out of dept.
  6. Learn a new skill, take up a new hobby.
  7. Put something into the community -help others.
  8. Get organized.  Else buy shares in diary, or companies selling electronic planners!
  9. Become more security conscious.
  10. Give up drinking, at least for the first week of January!

Politician in Action

A Senator in the USA was once asked about his attitude toward whisky.

‘If you mean the demon drink that poisons the mind, pollutes the body, desecrates family life, and inflames sinners, then I’m  against it.  But if you mean the elixir of a New Year toast, the shield against winter chill, the taxable potion that puts needed funds into public coffers to comfort little crippled children, then I’m for it.  This is my position, and I will not compromise.’

Lecture Tour with A Difference

On New Year’s Eve, Daniel was in no shape to drive, so he sensibly left   his van in the car park and walked home.  As he was wobbling along,   he was stopped by a policeman.  ‘What are you doing out here at four   o’clock in the morning?’ asked the police officer.

‘I’m on my way to a lecture,’ answered Roger.

‘And who on earth, in their right mind, is going to give a lecture at   this time on New Year’s Eve?’ enquired the constable sarcastically.

‘My wife,’ slurred Daniel grimly.

Mark Twain Said

New Year’s Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular   annual good resolutions.  Next week you can begin paving hell with them   as usual.

‘Twas the night before Christmas when just north of town

Santa’s sleigh dropped a runner.  Santa’s sleigh broke down.

St. Nick landed safely and walked all round his sleigh.

“Why now,” he thought, “On the night before Christmas Day?”

Claus dialed up the Elfnet where calls are never dropped.

“Get some mechanics here fast.  Christmas can’t be stopped.”

“Don’t worry we’ll be there in a second or two,”

Said the Chief Elf Mechanic.  “We know what to do.”

A dozen elves arrived and swarmed over the sleigh.

“Well,” said Santa.  “Tell me.  Tell me.  What do you say?”

“Uh boss, I don’t want to put you in a panic,”

“But we’re done tonight,” said the Chief Elf Mechanic.

“But,” said Claus, “If this isn’t fixed on the double,”

“There will be no Christmas presents.  This is trouble!”

“You think I can just snap my fingers more or less?”

Asked the Chief Elf Mechanic and Santa said, “Yes!”

“Repairs like this aren’t easy, even with magic,”

Said the elf.  And Claus said, “No gifts would be tragic.”

“Think of children with no presents under the tree.”

“Wait-a-sec,” said the elf, “You can’t blame this on me!”

“Then come up with an answer to get us on task,”

“And hurry,” pleaded Santa, “That’s all that I ask.”

“We need a service truck with studded tires and such,”

“With room for lots of stuff.  That’s not asking too much.”

“A plumbing contractor would have these by the fleet.”

“We could load the truck and hook up the deer quite neat.”

“I don’t know,” said Santa.  “It doesn’t seem quite right.”

“But then, I can’t be choosy.  It’s Christmas Eve night.”

“Yes, do it,” said Santa.  “Go find someone on call,”

“With a truck that’s got room for the gifts we must haul.”

They called and they called, but no one answered the phone,

Except for me.  I answered.  I answered alone.

They’re crazy, I thought, if you really want to know.

Still, I left to find them, north of town in the snow.

This is a practical joke, I thought to myself.

A call from a sleigh phone by Kris Kringle’s chief elf?

But I was curious and I wanted to see

If the story was true.  If it really could be.

So I drove the back roads, following GPS

As the snow started to fall; the roads were a mess.

I couldn’t believe it when I saw Santa’s sleigh.

It really is true and I thought there was no way.

There was Santa and reindeer and elves I suppose,

And one of the reindeer had a bright red shiny nose.

When Saint Nicholas saw me emerge from the snow,

He grabbed his stomach, leaned back, and laughed, “Ho, ho, ho!”

“Your truck will do.  I think it will do quite nice.”

“It’s even bigger than my sleigh, bigger by twice.”

When I opened the door, I was swarmed by the elves.

They emptied my inventory, emptied my shelves.

And stuffed them with games, dolls, and every sort of toy.

They really had something for every girl and boy.

Now my truck holds a lot of parts, this much is true,

And it’s clean and well maintained.  It’s practically new.

Yet there are limits to how much stuff it can hold,

But the chief elf said the elves use a space time fold.

“You humans think of dimensions X, Y and Z,”

“But we add a fourth.  We aren’t limited to three.”

“We load it full for an instant of time, and then,”

“We advance an instant and we do it again.”

Next, they hooked up the deer to the front of my truck.

“It works,” said the Chief Elf Mechanic, “Finally some luck!”

“Your truck’s quite toasty,” claimed Claus, as he climbed inside.

“So much warmer than a supersonic sleigh ride.”

“I want you to know,” said Saint Nicholas to me,

“That you will find something special under your tree.”

“But now its time for you to sleep until the dawn.”

And Despite myself, I found I started to yawn.

“The elves will see to it that you’re safe in your bed,”

“Though I know you would rather ride along instead.”

“And when you wake up this will all seem like a dream.”

My eyelids felt heavy as Santa called his team.

And the next morning my truck was covered with snow.

I doubt it had moved and there were no tracks to show.

It must have been a dream, was my sad little thought,

Until I looked under the tree.  Guess what I got!

It was the tool of my dreams, the tool of my life!

It was an Elvish space time folding pocket knife!

Don’t believe me?  Think I’m just having a yuck?

Wait until you see all of the stuff in my truck.

For all of your plumbing, we can take care of you,

What’s more, we’ll even take calls on Christmas Eve too!



by Heidi Isaza, WV communications

How many times have you used the toilet today? Judging by the fact that you are awake enough to be reading this blog, I’m assuming the answer is at least once, and probably more. (Maybe you are even reading this while on the toilet, which means you probably have the luxury of using a loo that is clean, private, and relatively comfortable).

For all of you who are fortunate enough to have a toilet in your life, I would like to wish you a happy World Toilet Day.

No, I’m not kidding — Saturday is World Toilet Day. You mean you didn’t get the memo?

Granted, for those of us who are lucky enough to have an abundance of bathrooms in which to “do our business,” it might seem a bit silly to celebrate the toilet. Aren’t there bigger development problems to tackle? Bigger accomplishments to celebrate?

But I want you to think back to the last time you didn’t have a decent toilet when you needed one (maybe your last camping trip, that port-a-potty at the stadium, or that long stretch of road between rest stops). Toilets, or lack thereof, are no laughing matter. Are they?

For those of us who are fortunate enough to live in developed societies, it is easy for us to chuckle at the important role that toilets and proper hygiene play in our lives.

But for those 2.6 billion people — more than a third of the world’s population — who don’t have access to toilets, their absence can lead to sickness and death. Did you know?

  • Children living in households with no toilet are twice as likely to get diarrhea as those with a toilet, causing more deaths every year than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined.

World Vision takes toilets and hygiene seriously. Last year, we installed more than 30,000 toilets around the world in homes, schools, and health centers, and trained more than 165,000 in proper hygiene practices — keeping kids and communities safer and healthier.

The following are just a sampling of photos of the toilets built by World Vision around the world. Enjoy.

An ode to the toilet | World Vision BlogCambodia: “World Vision has given (us) a latrine and teaches us how to stay healthy,” says Poeung Sokkhonn, 44, with her daughter Chhern, 14.

An ode to the toilet | World Vision BlogPeru: “I have three children under 8 years old, and the lack of sanitary conditions was a huge problem for my family…The latrine that World Vision installed helps prevent my children from diseases, such as diarrhea,” says Arnilla Moya, 28.

An ode to the toilet | World vision BlogSouth Africa: Life is hard for Itumeleng and her siblings. The children are orphans. Their mother died and their father abandoned them. World Vision recently provided them with a new house and sanitary latrine.

Next time you visit the toilet, remember you are one of the lucky ones and that there are billions of people around the world who don’t have such a luxury. (Photos by Sopheak Kong, World Vision Cambodia; Ester Luis, World Vision Peru; and Olwetu Gwanya, World Vision South Africa)