Tankless water heaters are a great investment that can provide an endless supply of hot water for your residential or commercial property right when you need it. That’s why they’re also referred to as on-demand water heaters. In addition to being extremely cost- and energy-efficient, the absence of a tank in which to store hot water also saves you a great deal of space and makes the tankless water heater installation process a lot easier for technicians.
If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and installing a tankless water heater for your property, here is everything you need to know about the maintenance involved.
Do Tankless Water Heaters Require Maintenance?
It’s important to get this question out of the way first. Yes, tankless water heaters require some level of routine maintenance. In fact, it’s safe to assume that all water heaters will require maintenance at some point during their lifespan. Tankless water heater maintenance doesn’t necessarily mean that repairs will need to be made, though.
It just means performing whatever upkeep is necessary to keep your unit running as smoothly as possible for as long as possible. An essential part of maintaining a tankless water heater entails taking the time to clean out its various components by removing dust, dirt, oil, and debris that are not only potential fire hazards, but can also clog up the system and cause it malfunction prematurely.
Scheduling a routine maintenance and inspection with a certified technician every six to 12 months depending on the age, make, model, and manufacturer’s recommendations is crucial to the overall health and longevity of your tankless water heater. It’s the best way to protect your long-term investment and even save you a lot of money in the long run.
Common Issues with Tankless Water Heaters
Technicians perform routine, but thorough inspections of all components of the unit to make sure that they’re all working properly and at optimal levels to maximize on water and energy conservation efficiency. They have a complete checklist of things to look for during the inspection.
Here are some of the most common issues that can negatively impact the performance of your tankless water heater.
- Internal mineral buildup from hard water
- Dirt, debris, and mineral buildup in the heat exchanger
- Failing to clean the exterior of the unit
- Overloading the system by using a lot more hot water than your tank can supply at any given time (e.g., too many people showering simultaneously) can cause it to shut down
- Gaps in water heating time
- Blockage in air supply exhaust
- Ignition and flame failure
While many of these issues are common amongst all types of water heaters, some of them are specific to tankless water heaters. For instance, overloading the system and gaps in water heating time are some of the biggest complaints consumers have regarding this type of water heater. The others are all easily identifiable and fixable with routine maintenance.
Overloading the system and the gaps in heated water supply have more to do with the capacity and size of the unit itself in comparison to the property for which its providing hot water. To put this into perspective, the distance that the water has to travel to reach the desired or intended destination (e.g., kitchen, bathroom, laundry) in the house makes a big difference. If your tankless water heater is located all the way in the basement and you need it to deliver hot water to your second-floor bathroom immediately after someone else used copious amounts of hot water in a different part of the house, then you may notice a delay in the hot water supply.
Despite the fact that tankless water heaters are supposed to supply hot water on demand, it still takes some time to heat up the water sufficiently based on the command given. Hence, you need to make sure that you’re purchasing the appropriate size tankless water heater to meet the hot water requirements of your household. Depending on the size of the property, you might even benefit from purchasing multiple tankless water heaters to meet your needs. This is still a far more space efficient option than getting a water heater with a storage tank.
How Often Should You Clean a Tankless Water Heater?
On average, most technicians and manufacturers would probably recommend that you clean out your tankless water heater at least once a year to keep it fully functional and prevent breakdowns. While this is sound advice, the frequency with which you clean your tankless water heater depends on the quality of the water in your area and where you live. If you have hard water that can result in a lot of mineral buildup inside the unit, then you should flush it out at least once a year or more frequently depending on usage.
Taking Care of the Exterior of the Unit
Cleaning the exterior and surrounding areas of the unit is just as important as flushing out the interior. Dust and dirt that have settled around and on top of the unit can easily make their way in and block the heat exchanger or other components. Once a month, sweep or vacuum the surrounding area of the machine and wipe the exterior with a soft cloth and non-abrasive cleaning agent to remove dust and dirt.
Why You Should Flush Out Your Tankless Water Heater
Flushing out your tankless water heater regularly removes all dirt, debris, and minerals that can clog its various components from the inside. Buildup of these various elements reduces the unit’s efficiency, which can drive up your monthly water and energy bills. Plus, it’s a huge fire hazard that can be easily addressed with regular maintenance and cleaning.
Descaling Your Tankless Water Heater
On average, you should descale your tankless water heater at least once a year. But the frequency may vary based on the unit make and model, where you live, your water quality, temperature, and usage. White vinegar is a common household item that you can use to descale your tankless water heater, or you can purchase a professional grade descaler from a hardware retailer.
Professional Tankless Water Heater Installation and Maintenance in the GTA
Make MDM Mechanical your go-to professional tankless water heater installation and maintenance experts in Toronto and the GTA. As a family-owned and operated local business, we can help you maximize the performance of your tankless water heater by offering professional maintenance services. Get a quote today!