If you’re looking to buy a new water heater for your home, the main options available to you include traditional units and tankless water heaters. While traditional water heaters offer some advantages, they also take up a considerable amount of space. Tankless water heaters offer high efficiency and minimal space requirements. Even though tankless water heaters have fewer maintenance requirements than traditional ones, they still need to be looked after.

How Tankless Water Heaters Work

The purpose of a tankless water heater is to deliver hot water on demand. These systems can heat water without requiring a storage tank. Traditional units are designed to store heated water until it’s needed. While these units can effectively heat your water, they’re inefficient and have high maintenance requirements.

In comparison, tankless units work by immediately heating the water when you request it. The water moves through the system’s heat exchanger, which can be powered by electricity or a natural gas burner. While these systems offer excellent energy efficiency and a somewhat compact size, maintenance is required to ensure minerals don’t build up in the heat exchanger. When this occurs, the exchanger could become clogged, which would reduce the water flow rate.

Reasons to Own a Tankless Water Heater

Tankless water heaters offer low maintenance requirements and high efficiency. It’s also easy to remove mineral buildup within the system. Since these water heaters aren’t outfitted with a tank, they often last for around a decade longer than traditional units.

Tankless Water Heater Maintenance Requirements

By maintaining your tankless water heater, you can keep it in great condition and avoid efficiency issues. From cleaning the exterior of the system to replacing outdated parts, there are numerous actions a plumber needs to take when maintaining your tankless water heater.

Clean Heater Exterior

The exterior of your tankless water heater should be cleaned regularly to reduce grime and dirt buildup. The system can be cleaned with a soft cloth and a simple cleaning solution. If the system isn’t cleaned regularly, the dirt and dust that accumulate can get into your water heater, which could make it less efficient. Your plumber will turn the power off before cleaning the tank.

Have Temperature Adjusted

A common problem with these systems is that the water can become too cold or too hot. It’s possible, however, to fix this issue during maintenance by properly adjusting the thermostat. If you’ve been having problems with your water temperature, ask your plumber if the issue is caused by an incorrect thermostat reading or a more substantial problem.

Flush the System

You should have your tankless water heater flushed whenever you request maintenance services from a plumber. This process is necessary to get rid of any of the sediment that has built up within the unit. If your home has hard water, you may need to flush your tankless heater more often. In this scenario, consider flushing the system every six to nine months.

When minerals accumulate, they can damage the unit’s efficiency as well as the heat exchanger’s condition. If you wait for longer than a year to have your system maintained, the damage could be extensive. Larger mineral deposits are more challenging to remove. Each plumbing company has its own process for how to flush tankless water heaters. However, the process often occurs over five simple steps, which are as follows:

  • The water supply and heater are turned off before any parts are cleaned
  • Hoses are typically connected to the system’s inlet and outlet valves
  • The other ends of the hoses are attached to a circulation pump
  • Water circulates through the system for anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours
  • Your home’s water supply and the heater will be turned back on

There are times when flushing the system won’t remove all the scale buildup. In this situation, a cleaning agent may need to be placed in the hoses to ensure the heat exchanger and other components are properly cleaned.

Clean the Water Filter

Tankless water heaters come with filters that keep impurities out of your water. The system can become clogged as these contaminants build up within the filter. You can mitigate this issue by cleaning the water filter regularly. You should ask a plumber to remove and clean the system’s water filter once every year.

Importance of Maintaining Tankless Water Heater

There are many reasons why you should have your tankless water heater maintained at least once every year. Performing regular maintenance should give your water heater a longer lifespan. Maintained units can last for up to 20 years, which means that the cost of maintenance should be covered.

Maintaining the unit also reduces the risk of a malfunction. Over time, magnesium and calcium deposits will build up and harden on the system’s heat exchanger. When scale deposits grow in your system, they can damage the heat exchanger. Keep in mind that damage caused by scale isn’t covered by a manufacturer’s warranty. On the other hand, preventive maintenance can keep these deposits from developing in the first place.

Maintenance should also help the system run at peak efficiency, which means that your energy bills should be somewhat low. The types of tankless water heater parts that will be cleaned during maintenance include the following:

  • Hot water outlet
  • T&P relief valve
  • T&P discharge pipe
  • Cold water inlet
  • Pilot assembly
  • Gas valve
  • Thermostat
  • Heating element

Heating elements and thermostats will only be part of your system if it runs on electricity.

Issues that Maintenance Might Catch

During maintenance, plumbers can identify many different issues with the quality and condition of your water heater. Your plumber can inform you if a repair will suffice or if the entire system needs to be replaced. Most tankless water heater issues can be fixed.

Leaks are somewhat common with tankless water heaters. If water is leaking out from the top, the outlet or inlet pipes may be loose. When the leak is coming from the bottom, it might be caused by condensation buildup. Some of the other problems that can be identified and repaired during maintenance include the following:

  • Too hot water
  • No hot water
  • Lack of hot water
  • Pilot light that won’t stay lit
  • Strange noises from system
  • Rusty hot water
  • Rotten eggs smell

Do you need to maintain a tankless water heater or install a new one? At High 5 Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, we offer water heater maintenance services for all Denver residents. Our BBB-accredited company has experience servicing traditional and tankless water heaters. If one of our qualified plumbers detects an issue with your system during maintenance, they can make the necessary repairs and replace the damaged parts with high-quality ones.

Our plumbing services extend to everything from drain cleaning to piping installation. We also offer comprehensive HVAC services to ensure all your major home appliances are well-maintained. Call High 5 Plumbing, Heating & Cooling if you’d like to schedule our maintenance services or learn more about tankless water heaters.

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