A tankless water heater provides an energy-efficient and economical way for households to obtain hot water on demand. While tankless water heaters have become increasingly popular compared to traditional models, these appliances require adequate maintenance to prevent premature component failure and to ensure that the unit reaches its full life expectancy. Tankless water heaters require regular professional inspections, and they may also need more frequent maintenance if you have hard water or prefer the highest water temperatures. A look at the significance of regular maintenance can provide insight on keeping your unit in excellent condition.
What Is a Tankless Water Heater?
Tankless water heaters are inline appliances capable of warming water without the assistance of a storage tank. While traditional water heaters keep water in a chamber for later use, tankless heaters move water through a heat exchanger until it reaches the faucet or fixture. This process is called thermal conductivity. The result is an instant supply of hot water without waiting for a storage tank to refill.
Because tankless heaters do not need to use power to maintain consistent water temperatures within a large tank, there are also fewer standby energy losses. This translates into potential savings on your utility bills. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, tankless water heaters can be 24%–34% more energy-efficient than conventional units. The elimination of the storage tank also makes this type of heater more compact and space-efficient. Other names for tankless water heaters include instantaneous, continuous-flow, flash, on-demand, or instant-on heaters.
What Does Tankless Water Heater Maintenance Include?
According to the Department of Energy, the average tankless water heater has a life span of over 20 years. However, this device requires upkeep to maintain optimal performance. Without maintenance, the water heater can decline in both efficiency and flow rate. Scheduling maintenance also reduces the risk of needing major repairs related to product defects or buildup. Maintenance sessions typically include flushing the system, cleaning filters, checking internal connections, correcting temperature problems, and assessing the exterior of the unit.
Flushing the System
One of the first steps a technician will take when maintaining your water heater is flushing out the system. Because a tankless water heater works by quickly running water through the heat exchanger, its water lines and valves are much smaller than conventional water heater units. Over time, minerals naturally found in groundwater can accumulate in these small water heater components. Types of minerals that can adhere to water lines and valves include calcium, lime, magnesium, and other sediment particles. Households with hard water are particularly vulnerable to this sediment. A common name for the sediment buildup is “scale.”
If left uncorrected, the accumulation of scale can cause clogs that impair your unit’s ability to heat water. This can raise energy bills as your unit works harder to supply hot water, and it can even shorten the life span of the device. Sediment can also block or obstruct valves that result in unexpected breakdowns from the excess pressure. In the most severe cases, mineral deposits can cause irreversible corrosion of the heat exchanger and require replacement of this crucial component. Since damage due to preventable mineral buildup can void your manufacturer warranty, it is important to reach out to an HVAC technician to complete sediment descaling and help avoid problems down the line.
Cleaning the Air-Intake Filters
Tankless water heaters have air-intake filters and exhaust vents. Any gas-powered tankless unit relies on the filters to provide a stream of air to help produce instantaneous heating. If the air-intake filters or exhaust vents become clogged or dirty, your unit will not receive the airflow needed to supply hot water on demand. A trained technician has the equipment needed to properly scrape and clean air filters without damaging the structure of these components.
Cleaning the Water Filters
Most tankless water heaters also have inline water filters or screens that help trap the largest water debris and prevent these particles from entering the unit. However, the accumulation of debris can obstruct the openings of these filters over time. This buildup can affect the performance of the unit as well as the volume output of hot water. A technician can clean or replace these water filters to help restore the efficiency of your unit.
Checking the Connections
Maintenance sessions also involve checkups of internal connections. These connections typically include additional valves like the gas-shutoff valve, pressure-relief valve, isolation-valve, port valves, and purge valves. Since knowledge of how to repair openings this size requires extensive training, you should never attempt to tamper with these components yourself. A technician can test the valves and replace them if they are worn or damaged.
Setting the Temperature
If your water temperatures are excessively high, you may notice an increased amount of scale buildup. Most minerals and chemicals dissolve more readily in very hot water. The hotter the water, the more buildup you may see around your unit’s connections and heating elements. A technician can determine the best temperature for your household and establish this default setting.
Cleaning the Exterior
The final maintenance step is the assessment of the water heater exterior. A technician will review your unit for signs of deterioration. The expert can also clean the unit to remove hard-to-dissolve debris, grime, or dust particles that may have adhered to the surface of your appliance over time.
What Are Possible Signs That I Need Tankless Water Heater Servicing?
All tankless water heaters require servicing at least once and possibly twice each year. However, households with problems such as extremely hard water may require additional intervention. Symptoms that indicate the need for unit maintenance include low water pressure, leaks, constant shutdowns, or sensor alerts.
Inconsistent Water Pressure
Depending on the composition of your water, it can contain minerals that adhere to the inside of your water heater. This restricts water passageways and causes pressure problems. If you notice inconsistent water pressure when trying to get hot water from various fixtures of the home, the water heater itself may be the culprit. A professional can test the pressure and make repairs as needed.
Leaking Water Heater
Tankless units quickly transfer water as part of the heating process. As a result, it should not retain water or emit leaks. If you notice moisture seeping from the unit, it is usually a sign of a structural issue. Reach out to an expert company to diagnose the device and provide troubleshooting solutions.
Water Shuts Off Unexpectedly
If your water shuts off unexpectedly during showers, laundry, or other essential tasks, it can indicate a problem with the water heater’s internal components. Similarly, problems with internal valves or hose lines can shorten the duration of the hot water output. A plumber or technician can inspect and fix these parts.
Sensor Lights Illuminate
The latest tankless water heater models often feature digital screens sensors that alert homeowners when something is wrong with the unit. Severe obstructions or component dysfunction can often trigger error messages or alarms. Reach out to a plumber if you notice this sign of complications so that an expert can investigate.
Contact Us Today
Tankless water heaters offer an instant supply of hot water. However, these devices require professional oversight to perform at the best of their design ability Smedley Service provides heating, cooling, and plumbing services for homes in Layton and surrounding areas. We offer tankless water heater installation as well as repair. Our experts can also provide water softening as well as pipe inspection and repair. We can also help with boilers and other related HVAC equipment. Contact Smedley Service today for all your water heater needs.