Tank water heaters are typically what most homeowners are familiar with when they think of water heaters. They’re large, noticeable, and sometimes even a bit noisy. Because of their prevalence, most people understand and suspect that they need service from time to time—particularly maintenance.
Scaling, after all—which is the buildup of hard water minerals that settles to the bottom of the water heater tank, can have significant consequences for a water heater. Scaling causes issues with water pressure, temperature, and even corrosion. The way to solve this is with flushing, as part of your maintenance session.
But tankless systems don’t have to deal with this, right? Well… actually… yes, yes they do. Read on to learn more!
Scaling in a Tankless Water Heater
Scaling can impact a tankless water heater in a way that could lead to a shortened lifespan if you do not schedule maintenance for it on a regular basis. Hard water, which is water with a high level of minerals in it like calcium and magnesium, is found in plumbing systems throughout the country. When these mineral deposits are left behind in appliances or pipes, we call it scaling.
This process can negatively impact the heat exchanger component of your tankless water heater. As you probably already realize, the heat exchanger is what actually heats up the water, to begin with. You need this component to be clean and unobstructed, so the water can be heated efficiently. Scaling can make your burners work harder or can overwork your tankless water heater to the point that it breaks down.
How Often Should You Schedule Maintenance?
For some tankless water heater systems, annual maintenance is absolutely vital for keeping the system running as smoothly as possible throughout its lifespan. This is true for areas significantly affected by hard water. Of course, you can combat this hard water with the installation of a whole-house water softener. Until then, you should plan on yearly maintenance appointments.
For tankless water heaters in homes that don’t suffer from hard water, you can typically go 2-3 years between maintenance sessions. The best thing to do is to have a plumber do water testing in your home to see what your levels of hard water are.
When Should You Replace Your Tankless Water Heater?
While annual or semi-annual maintenance is vital for a tankless water heater, no amount of maintenance will make the system last forever. Eventually, you’ll need to replace your tankless water heater with a new one. The good news is, well-maintained tankless water heaters typically last 2 decades or longer.
If your system starts showing signs of failure before this time, it can absolutely be due to a lack of maintenance. Keeping up with these appointments is the only way to be sure your system lasts its entire lifespan. Be sure to consult with a professional to learn more about the current state of your tankless water heater system, and pay close attention to when your water heater is showing signs that it’s approaching the end of its life.