Tankless hot water heaters, celebrated for their efficiency and space-saving design, have become a staple in modern homes. While they may eliminate the need for a bulky storage tank, they don’t remove the need for regular maintenance.
According to Australia’s Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, traditional water heaters comprise about 12 per cent of the average homeowner’s utility bill. Keeping your tankless unit in top condition extends its life. It ensures that it runs efficiently, saving you money on energy bills and safeguarding against unexpected showers from the cold water valve.
In this blog, we’ll dive into the ins and outs of maintaining a tankless hot water heater. From the simple tasks you can do monthly to keep your system running smoothly to the annual check-ups best left to the professionals, we’ve got you covered.
Whether you’re a seasoned DIY enthusiast or a newcomer to home maintenance, our guide will empower you to take charge of your tankless hot water heater’s longevity and performance. So, let’s turn up the heat on maintenance and ensure you enjoy a seamless supply of hot water day in and day out.
The Importance of Maintaining a Tankless Water Heater
Maintaining a tankless water heater is essential for several compelling reasons. First and foremost, regular maintenance ensures that the heater operates at peak efficiency.
Over time, minerals from hard water can build up in the heater’s components, causing it to work harder to heat water, which can lead to increased energy consumption and reduced heating efficiency. By performing routine descaling and cleaning, you prevent mineral deposits from compromising the heat exchanger, which is the heart of the unit. This conserves energy and maintains the water temperature consistency that tankless heaters are known for.
Maintenance also extends the lifespan of the tankless water heater. Without regular upkeep, the accumulation of minerals and debris can lead to corrosion, reduce water flow, and eventually cause the unit to fail. Manufacturers typically recommend annual service to keep the system running smoothly.
During a maintenance check, a professional can also identify and rectify any small issues before they escalate into costly repairs. Keeping up with maintenance tasks like filter cleaning, system flushing, and checking for gas or water leaks can prevent the inconvenience of unexpected breakdowns and the need for premature replacement. In the long run, investing in routine maintenance can save homeowners from the disruption and expense of addressing major water heater malfunctions.
Tips for Maintaining a Tankless Hot Water Heater
Understand Your System
To ensure you provide the best care for your tankless hot water heater, familiarise yourself with its design and function. Each model comes with its own set of features and maintenance guidelines, which are typically outlined in the owner’s manual.
Identify your unit type— be it gas or electric—as the maintenance steps can differ. Understanding the components, such as the heat exchanger, water filter, and control panel, is essential. This knowledge will assist you in performing routine maintenance tasks and identifying when something isn’t quite right with your system.
A key aspect of maintaining your tankless water heater is to conduct regular inspections. This means visually checking the unit for any obvious signs of wear and tear, such as corrosion, leaks, or loose connections.
Observe the colour of the burner flame; a consistent blue flame is ideal. Any changes in performance, unusual noises, or error codes on digital displays should be noted and investigated. Regular inspections can catch small issues before they turn into costly repairs.
Clean the Air Intake Filter
Tankless water heaters require a clean air supply to operate efficiently. Most units have an air intake filter that should be cleaned periodically.
Remove the filter according to the instructions in the manual and gently clean it with soap and water, removing any dust or debris. This simple task can prevent airflow-related performance issues, such as overheating or incomplete combustion.
Descale Your Heater
In areas with hard water, calcium and lime can build up inside the water heater and affect its performance. To prevent this, descaling is recommended at least once a year.
This involves circulating a descaling solution through the unit to dissolve any mineral deposits. Some models have a descaling mode, or you may need to submersible pump the solution through the system manually.
Check the Water Filter
Your tankless heaters have a filter to prevent debris from entering the unit and damaging it. This water filter should be checked and cleaned regularly to ensure proper water flow and prevent clogs.
Turn off the unit and remove the filter, then rinse it with water and replace it. The water must be turned off before removing the purge port valve caps. These are located on each of the cold and hot water valves. Closing the hot water valve (the red valve that feeds back to a cleaning solution container) will stop warm water circulation from the tankless water heater to your home.
If the filter appears damaged, replace it with a new one to protect your system. Tankless units require less attention or replacement parts than a traditional tank water heater.
Maintain Water Softness
Hard water can significantly shorten the lifespan of your tankless water heater due to scale build-up. If you live in a hard water area, consider installing a water softener or using a scale inhibitor to maintain water softness. This will help to reduce mineral deposits within the unit and keep it running more efficiently.
Annual Professional Service
While many maintenance tasks can be done on your own, an annual check-up by a professional is advisable. A licensed technician can perform a comprehensive inspection and service, including cleaning the burners, checking the venting system, testing the water pressure using pressure relief valve and temperature, and ensuring all safety devices function correctly.
Keep the Area Clear
The area around your tankless water heater should be kept free of clutter and debris. This ensures proper ventilation, which is critical for safe operation and allows easy access during maintenance or emergencies. Make sure there’s enough clearance as specified by the manufacturer.
Know When to Call a Professional
While preventative maintenance is key, it’s equally important to recognise when a professional’s expertise is needed. If you encounter persistent issues and error codes or if the unit requires repairs beyond basic maintenance, it’s time to call in a certified technician. They have the tools and training to safely and effectively service your tankless water heater, ensuring it operates at peak performance.
Endless Warmth, Effortless Care
Maintaining your tankless hot water heater is not just about preserving its functionality; it’s about ensuring a consistent hot water supply for your home’s needs while maximising the unit’s efficiency and lifespan.
Remember to prioritise regular inspections, keep filters clean, descale your heater as needed, and ensure your water’s softness to prevent scale build-up. And while much of the maintenance can be a DIY affair, the value of an annual professional service cannot be overstated.
At Service First, we’re dedicated to helping you keep your tankless water heater in top condition. Our team of experts is equipped with the knowledge and tools necessary to provide comprehensive service and address any issues your unit may present.
If you’re ever in doubt about a tankless water heater maintenance step or encounter a problem requiring professional attention, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here to ensure that your hot water keeps flowing efficiently so you can enjoy the comfort and convenience of your tankless system without interruption.
Tankless Water Heater Maintenance FAQs
How often should I flush my tankless hot water heater?
It’s recommended to flush your tankless hot water heater at least once a year to remove mineral build-up, particularly if you live in an area with hard water. Flushing the system helps to maintain its efficiency and prolong its lifespan. However, if your water has a high mineral content, you should flush it more frequently, such as every six months.
Can I perform maintenance on my tankless water heater, or should I hire a professional?
Many maintenance tasks, such as cleaning the air filter and performing a visual inspection, can be done by yourself. These are straightforward and typically outlined in your heater’s manual. However, for more complex tasks like flushing the system of scale, checking the main gas supply valve connections, or servicing the heat exchanger, hiring a professional is safer and more prudent, especially if you need to become more familiar with the workings of tankless water heaters.
What are the signs that my tankless water heater needs maintenance?
Some signs that may indicate your tankless water heater requires maintenance include a decrease in water temperature or hot water flow rate, unusual noises during operation, error messages on the display panel, and visible signs of corrosion or leaks. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to consult your manual and contact a professional if necessary to troubleshoot the issue and perform any needed maintenance.