December 19, 2022

Difficulties Getting Hot Water to Upper Floors with Your Tankless Water Heater


A man  suffering through a cold shower.

One of the most common tankless water heaters problems is their inability to provide even hot water to all parts of your home. If you have a larger family that uses a lot of hot water, you’ll want to make sure you have a hot water heater that matches your demand. We can help you choose and install the best tankless hot water heater for your home.

If your current tankless heater isn’t doing the job, we can explain why and offer a couple of different solutions. It’s no fun to have hot water downstairs but not upstairs. Sometimes the “cold water sandwich effect” can make hot water service spotty with tankless models. Trust the experts at Applewood to help you get hot water to your upper floor!

What is The Cold Water Sandwich Effect?

The “cold water sandwich” refers to a tankless system engaging and supplying hot water initially, then lapsing with a small amount of cold water, and then hot water again. This happens because the system’s heat exchanger takes some time to heat up water, resulting in a small gap in hot water service as the system catches up to the water demand.

Many multi story homes with tankless water heater systems experience the cold water sandwich effect. While these systems are incredibly efficient and effectively provide hot water on demand, they may struggle to provide consistent hot water after first turning on, especially when sending hot water to upper floors.

The Cold Water Sandwich Fix: Two Options

When you battle the cold water sandwich with your tankless system, it’s not so bad during short uses such as washing your hands, but it can be pretty bothersome when taking showers. Especially after shoveling your sidewalk on a cold Colorado morning. You can solve your tankless water heater cold water problem and ensure effective delivery of hot water to upper floors with one of two main solutions:

A tankless water heater mounted inside of a shower.
  1. Create a Hybrid Water Heater System.
    A tankless water heater system has the advantage of saving the space a typical tank water heater occupies. Similarly, a hybrid system with a small reservoir effectively provides the best of both worlds. A tankless unit with a small hot water reservoir provides a steady stream of evenly heated water. Instead of a large tank storing your hot water, the smaller reservoir effectively acts as a buffer and prevents the cold water sandwich effect when you need hot water for an extended draw. If you’re having trouble maintaining steady streams of hot water on your second or third floor, installing a hot water reservoir could offer a relatively easy solution.
  2. Install Multiple On-Demand Water Heaters
    If you install an additional tankless water heater on your second or third floor dedicated to the upper floors’ bathroom, you can enjoy steady streams of hot water with little to no delay. A targeted heater will reduce the cold water sandwich effect you currently experience and provide dedicated service to that particular faucet or shower. Tankless water heaters are small enough to fit inside most small closets. You easily add a second water heater to an upper floor bathroom without sacrificing valuable storage space.

Either of these solutions should help get hot water upstairs faster. While either option comes at some initial expense, keep in mind that an efficient tankless water heater system can provide consistent energy savings for many years. You will also encounter fewer issues that demand repairs, and any repairs you do end up needing will be much more affordable than they would be with a tank-based traditional water heating system.

Get Hot Water Upstairs and Everywhere in Your Home

Every home is different, and every homeowner has different goals when it comes to heating their water. Whether you’re more concerned with energy savings or simply never want to worry about running out of hot water when you need it, we can help with the right solution for your home.

Technology changes quickly. Contact Applewood today to learn more about the latest solutions to the cold water sandwich effect in your home. Our team will walk you through the potential solutions and the long-term value they might provide to your home.

Call  303-328-3060

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