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Maintaining Your Tankless Water Heater

tankless water heater
February 14, 2018

Tankless water heaters come with a variety of benefits: they’re smaller in size, can be installed just about anywhere, and they’re energy efficient. Like any other appliance, however, they require maintenance. While a tankless water heater lacks a tank, it’s not as low maintenance as it may be advertised. Quite the contrary, it needs as much maintenance as a standard tank water heater does. Why? Hard water still affects a water heater, tank or no tank. The good news is that you can properly maintain your system, and ensure it functions as it should.

How to Keep Your Tankless Water Heater Happy

Besides energy efficiency and size, there’s little difference between a tank and tankless. A tankless water heater heats water as it comes from your home’s water line, instead of heating a tank full of water. It uses a heat exchanger powered either by gas or electricity to generate said heat. Over time, however, the minerals found in hard water build up mineral deposits that wear down the water heater and can clog plumbing. It affects both types of water heaters, damaging the tank for a tank water heater, and damaging the heat exchanger for a water heater. Like any appliance, especially a water appliance, your tankless water heater needs routine maintenance in order to function effectively and last its lifespan. Here’s how you can effectively maintain your tankless water heater.

  • Give it space. Since your water heater combusts fuel to generate heat, it’s important to keep any combustible items or materials at a safe distance. Keep away all papers, clothing, paints, and chemicals, it’s ideal to keep all flammable items in a separate room from the water heater.
  • Check the exhaust vent. Like any heating appliance, a tankless water heater needs proper ventilation. That’s why it’s important to keep the exhaust vent clean of any dust or debris that can restrict airflow. Not only will a dirty vent damage the water heater, it can become a carbon monoxide hazard.
  • Watch for leaks. Leaks are a common plumbing problem, and your tankless water heater is no exception. Watch the pipes closeby for any leaks. If you spot dripping pipes or pools of water nearby, you’ll want to call a plumber immediately. A leak left untreated turns into a bigger problem, costing you more than the water wasted.
  • Keep it clean. Dust and dirt get everywhere, but it’s problematic when enough of it gets into your heater. Routinely cleaning the exterior of the heater with a lint-free cloth and mild detergent, helps to keep it clean and dust-free.
  • Keep the drain valve and water screen clear. Over time dirt and other debris can build up on the drain valve and water screen, which can disrupt the flow of hot water. Make sure to check them periodically and clean when necessary.
  • Descale your water heater. Hard water is a nuisance, but even with a water softener, mineral deposits can still build up inside your tankless water heater. That’s why it’s recommended to descale or flush your tankless water heater at least once a year to prevent too much of a scale buildup.

When to Call a Professional

Problems happen despite how well-maintained your tankless water heater, and when that happens, it’s important to call a plumber right away. Damages left untreated can not only cost you higher water bills but possibly even an early replacement. The earlier you act, the better. If you think your tankless water heater is due for a repair, here are a few warning signs to watch for.

  • Warm water. One of the first red flags is if your tankless water heater no longer produces hot water. If you’re dealing with tepid water, it could be a number of issues. Your tankless water heater may simply need a temperature adjustment, or there could be too much water pressure. A plumber will be able to diagnose and effectively treat the problem.
  • Water heater turns itself off. If you’re suddenly out of hot water, don’t panic yet, the issue may just be a clogged filter. Tankless water heaters can shut off when its filter is no longer functional. Cleaning or replacing the filter should do the trick.
  • Fluctuating temperatures. If your shower quickly ranges from freezing cold to lukewarm to scalding hot, you have a serious problem. The usual culprit is a loose connection somewhere in the tankless water heater.
  • Your water appliances won’t work. Appliances like your dishwasher or washing machine require certain temperatures and water pressure to function properly. If something is wrong with your tankless water heater, however, it may fail to deliver enough heat and pressure, rendering your water appliances useless. One trick to fix this problem is to adjust the hot and cold valves until you reach the right temperature. If it doesn’t work, you’ll need to call a plumber.

Treat Your Tankless Water Heater Right with The Right Maintenance

No homeowner wants to deal with the stress of a busted water heater, and luckily with the right care and maintenance, you don’t have to. A clean tankless water heater, clear of obstructions and scale can easily function up to 20 years. If your tankless water heater is in need of repair, it’s crucial to call a plumber right away. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Call a plumber today to ensure your tankless water heater works as it should.