Most homeowners are somewhat unaccustomed to servicing their water heaters. You may not realize that the old tank style heaters do benefit from an annual flushing and regular replacement of the anode rods that protect the tanks from corrosion. This type of routine, scheduled maintenance is seldom done on hot water tanks. Most people are instead content to just letting their water heater work for them and then dealing with problems as they arise.
The reality is you could also end up spending more money repairing those old tanks than they would cost to replace. In fact, many people are choosing to replace their old water heaters by investing in energy efficient, on-demand tankless systems. While tankless water heaters initially require a more significant investment, this option is ultimately more cost-effective as it also saves on energy and water.
With a lifespan of over 20 years, if you do choose to invest in a tankless system, you will want to maintain it from the outset (rather than use that old approach of letting it run until it wears out). The value of a well-functioning tankless water heater makes regular maintenance worth the investment.
Calcium Build-up Requires Regular Maintenance
The hardness of the water in your specific area will ultimately determine how often your tankless water heater will need to be serviced. Hard water causes calcium buildup and the harder the water; the more quickly buildup will accumulate.
Typically, to keep your water heater running smoothly, a service should be scheduled at least once every twelve months. If you have particularly hard water or run your water heater hotter than 130 degrees, you will want to schedule that servicing every 6 to 9 months.
Calcium Buildup Issues
Calcium, sediment and other mineral buildup need to be regularly removed from your tankless hot water system because this buildup can reduce the heating efficiency of your tankless heater. Calcium and sediment buildup acts as an insulator, preventing the elements from heating water efficiently, and using more energy than necessary.
Sediment and mineral buildup can also obstruct the pipes and reduce the flow rate of your tankless water heater. Sediment and buildup can accumulate to such a degree that it even blocks pipes, causing clogs, leaks and potential damage to your water heater.
How to Clean Tankless Water Heater
Cleaning a tankless water heater involves running white vinegar or another approved cleaner through the heat exchangers to clean scaling and mineralization that can clog up the heat exchangers. Do NOT use a chemical that you would not consider drinking. Even after careful cleaning and flushing, trace amounts can stay behind and end up in your drinking water or food.
Tankless water heaters should be installed with a flush kit at the bottom to allow the main water supply to be disabled so that a loop of cleaner can be pumped through the appliance. Some manufacturers of tankless water heaters sell corresponding full flush kits. The kits include a pump, some hoses, and a bucket.
You will likely want to flush the unit periodically. This can help keep your unit free of scale and lime. Also, depending on the type of water heater you have, the screen filter should be checked for debris. Always refer to your owner’s manual for tips to care for your tankless water heater.
If you need assistance with the proper cleaning and maintenance of your tankless water heater, talk to your local plumbing experts at Magnificent Plumbing. They can also often put you on a regular maintenance schedule to ensure that tankless water heater cleaning gets done, and you don’t have to worry about the routine maintenance you need to keep your tankless water heater in top condition.