sign up

AO Smith Vertex Water Heater Review

For a high-performance house there should be a hot water strategy in place. In this video, Matt Risinger, master builder, takes us to a recent build where the strategy began with making things as efficient as possible. In a 3,200 sq. ft. home, with four bedrooms, three baths and two half baths, thoughts originally went to tankless water heaters to not have to store the water, however, the issue was cost and the fact that in a hard-water area, scaling happens and maintenance would be pretty high. Also, tankless water heaters are great as long as demand wasn't extreme. With two teenagers in the home, that was a possibility. A traditional 50- or 100-gallon tank was also considered, however they are not particularly efficient. Finally, a decision was made to use an AO Smith Vertex 50-gallon tank with 96% efficiency. A hybrid system, it has a 100,000 BTU, double the horsepower of a traditional 50-gallon tank. It delivers 150 gallons of hot water in the first hour. To tackle the distribution of hot water in such a large house, a pump system was used to cycle water in the line, dumping it back into the cold-water line instead of down the drain. Hot water is available in a matter of seconds vs. minutes depending on the distance of the fixture. The system was modified with insulation, buttons at locations in the house to run the pump and deliver the hot water faster. The system is housed in a closet in the garage. There is spray foam in the closet and it is part of the air-conditioned space of the house. The unit has sealed combustion in the tank and PVC is used for combustion air and venting air. Another PVC pipe takes the exhaust air to the outside, eliminating carbon monoxide issues. When selecting a unit like this, it's important to plan for a condensate line. Maintenance of the efficient system is also very easy.