Tankless Water Heater Maintenance

Tankless water heaters are fast becoming a popular choice home appliance. It is sweeping the water heater industry like wild fire and gaining popularity among users.

Worth mentioning, is that facts emerging from tankless water reviews show that appropriate tankless water heater maintenance is imperative. Good maintenance culture can extend the longevity of a water heater up to 20 years or more.

Adopting appropriate tankless water heater maintenance saves you the stress of constant replacement and the cost associated with it.

Tankless Water Heater maintenance

It is important to note that basic tankless heater maintenance entails flushing the heater yearly. This procedure keeps the heater free of mineral scale deposit and lime build up.

Experts are of the view that descaling on yearly basis or less is necessary, especially for people residing in hard water region. The harder the water the more frequent the descaling should be. Those residing in soft water region can afford not to descale their heaters up to 2 years.

Hard water deposits, scale and lime on the coiled copper pipe. This buildup can decrease efficiency and restrict water flow. It has the capability of causing damage to tankless heaters.

  • For hard water areas, a good maintenance culture involves using hard water softeners to soften the water (Click Here for Amazon). Installing a water softener in regions where the water hardness is up to 11 grains or more per gallon is quite advisable. In addition, installing hard water softener has a double barrel value: it ensures the durability of tankless units and gives better tasting water.
  • It is equally important that you read the manufacturer’s manual before you start using your water heater. This step will arm you with knowledge on what proper maintenance practice to toe.
  • Always carry out repair work on the unit by seeking the help of a trained professional for unit to at its optimal best. Avoid being your own handy man or seeking the help of friends and colleagues. This practice will do more harm than good.
  • It is good to use a trained professional for installing the device. A professional, drawing from years of training and experience knows how to go about the business, pitfalls to avoid and danger inherent in wrong installation. These traits might be lacking in a quack or an untrained person.
  • Good ventilation and bigger exhaust pipes are imperative. They ensure that there is no clog in the device.
  • Proper installation of the exhaust condensation is pertinent and a good preventive tankless water heater maintenance. The corrosive liquid from the exhaust condensation of an ill fitted exhaust pipe has the potential of destroying the heat exchanger a few years after installation.
  • Ensure that you have a heavy electric service that is capable of handling the heavy load of a whole house electric tankless water heater. It is necessary that you upgrade from a lower capacity to a heavy one if you are considering installing a whole house electric water heater.

How to descale your tankless water heater heat exchanger

With tankless water heaters the major problem associated with these units is build up of calcium and lime. The most affected part is the heat exchanger. The best way to avoid this is adopting preventive maintenance for tankless water heaters. This means you have to flush your heater periodically.

Many manufacturers of tankless water heater offer flushing or descaling services to clients. Unfortunately, most users do not make use of this service. They prefer to do it themselves, may be they are short on cash or plain adventurous. For such people, flushing out your system can be interesting and fun, if you are knowledgeable of what to do, the tools to use and steps to follow. It is also important to note that flushing /descaling takes an hour at the most. The good thing about most tankless water heaters is that they come with an error indicator. This indicator quickly alerts you when you heater needs flushing.

What procedures are necessary to get the job right?

The first thing is to get the necessary tools needed. The required tools are-

  1. Screw driver
  2. Adjustable wrench
  3. 2 hoses (garden hose about 6ft long)
  4. Electric tester (non contact models are the best)
  5. 1 small sump pump(pond pump is equally good)
  6. 2 or 3 gallons of white vinegar ( vinegar is use as cleaning solution because it is health friendly unlike chemical solutions)
  7. Bucket (2 or 5 gallons, depending on the size of unit, level of calcium and lime build up.

Alternatively, you can get complete set of tankless water maintenance cleaning kits from shops online or offline.

To get a more comprehensive review on the cleaning kits click here.

Need to Know Precautions

  • Now that your tools are ready, check if your tankless water heater has isolated valves. If these valves are absent, the best alternative is to seek the help of a professional. Such units are complex and definitely need professional handling.
  • Secondly, ascertain that the electricity is off, if you are using an electric water heater. For gas powered water heater, you need also to shut off the gas. The way to ascertain if the power is off is by testing with a non-contact electric tester. If it turns red, it means that power is still on and you need to turn it off completely. Working with the electric mains on or gas on goes against the law of appropriate tankless water heater maintenance as it could probably wreck the unit.
  • Another important fact is to have it at the back of your mind that you are dealing with hot water, which can cause bodily harm. The possibility exists that hot water might still be in the system, hence it is extremely needful to be cautious and alert when flushing or draining your tankless unit.

Now that you are through with these, it is time to get into the business of flushing your water heater.

  • Turn off the main water supply valve to your system. How do you do this? You keep turning the cold and hot water valves until they point straight up (perpendicular) with respective valve body.

This shuts off cold water supply to the unit and the flow of hot water to the various fixtures in the house. The cold water valve is marked blue while the hot water valve is marked red.

  • Take the two garden hoses; attach to cold water and hot water drain valves. Then take the attached coldwater garden hose and connect the other end to a small sump pump or pond pump. With the help of an adjustable wrench, tighten the garden hoses firmly in place.
  • Next, get your white vinegar, which by the way should be about 2-3 gallons and pour it into the bucket. Although, manufacturers recommend the use of 5 gallons of white vinegar, users from various tankless water heater are of the opinion that 2 or 3 gallons of vinegar will do the job perfectly.
  • In the bucket containing the vinegar place the pump and the open end of the garden hose attached to the hot water valve.
  • Open the hot and cold water valves respectively. At the same time turn on sump pump in the vinegar solution to let the vinegar run through the water heater. This should go on for about 45 minutes to one hour. (Sometimes it is good to let the vinegar sit in the heater for quite awhile if the level of calcium buildup is high or if it had been long since you serviced or descaled your heater.)
  • After about an hour turn off the sump pump, drain the vinegar from the tankless water heater via the cold water drain valve, and close the drain valve. Ensure the vinegar is completely out before closing the drain valve.
  • Open the main cold water supply valve in order to run clean and fresh water through the unit for five minutes. The idea is to rid the heater of vinegar residue.
  • Shut off the main water supply again; remove the intake screen for cleaning.

9) For tankless water heater maintenance, you need to clean your system intake screen whenever you are flushing your heater. This screen is located at the cold water inlet side of the water heater.

The screen help to keep at bay debris from main water supply, hence it gets slimy very easily. The debris ranges from plastic Teflon sealing tapes, insect carcasses, paper and a whole lot of unidentifiable elements.

10) After you are done with screen, put it back .Turn on the closed valves and run hot water through the tankless water heater. This clears the tankless heater of trap air. You will benefit yourself greatly by checking for leaks before turning on power.

12) Ascertain the performance of your water heater by running hot water from different fixtures in the home.

Conclusively, the tankless maintenance secret is to ensure you buy service valves and pre-sediment filters. Information from various tankless water owners show that they are necessary, if you want your unit to last, function and serve you effectively at its optimal best.