When you picture a classic water heater, you likely think of a large tank inside of your basement, a crawlspace, the garage, or elsewhere, full of hot water and lots of external and internal components that keep things running smoothly. This large tank water heater, with all its safety switches and valves, needs regular maintenance—including flushing the tank sometimes if you have hard water. This is something you may have experience with.
However, when you picture a tankless water heater, you might simply see the small, rectangular box it comes in. Tankless water heaters can last for 20 years, and seem to be self-sufficient, but this is far from the truth. Today, we explain why tankless water heaters should receive regular maintenance, too!
How a Tankless Water Heater Works
Before we can explain to you why a tankless water heater needs maintenance, we should first explain how a tankless water heater unit works. All you see is the small box the water passes through (if you can see this at all in your home), so the inner workings may not seem all that complex.
In essence, a tankless water heater’s control system is a computer board. When a hot water tap opens up, water passes through the water heater, which activates a sensor that starts up this control board. The heating elements start to heat or the burners light up. Either way, heat transfers to the heat exchanger, a metal component over which water flows before making its way to your faucets.
Tankless Water Heaters and Scaling
The main problem that can come about for water heaters that do not receive regular maintenance is scaling. Scale collects in water-using appliances because of hard water, something that indicates a water supply has an excess of minerals like calcium and magnesium. Deposits of these minerals, called scaling, get left behind in pipes and in a water heater tank, which is why some tank water heaters need to be flushed once a year.
But tankless water heaters are not exempt from the effects of scaling. In fact, the metal heat exchanger is likely to collect some amount of scale over its lifespan. Eventually, scaling can coat a heat exchanger, leading to trouble getting the water to stay warm. In addition, the heat exchanger may break, leaving you in need of a water heater replacement.
Other Maintenance Considerations
Routine maintenance sessions can take care of everything you need to ensure your water heater stays in the best condition possible. Here are all of the improvements you may see when you have your tankless water heater maintained, especially if you keep up with this task once per year.
- Better heat transfer: Without any buildup on the heat exchanger, your water heater works better.
- Higher efficiency: Fine-tuning and cleaning a tankless water heater helps it to run at its best possible efficiency, saving you even more money every month.
- A longer system lifespan: We hate to see tankless water heaters breaking down long before their time is up. With routine maintenance and, if necessary, the occasional early repair, you can prevent major system shutdowns.