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Do Tankless Water Heaters Need Maintenance?

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases.

All mechanical devices and equipment must be maintained regularly for optimal longevity and efficiency, and a tankless water heater is no different. Understanding why it’s important and what needs to be done can help you plan for this process.

Common Issues With Tankless Water Heaters

Maintaining your tankless hot water heater can help you avoid downtime related to repair issues. It can also potentially help maximize the longevity of your unit and promote energy efficiency over the months and years. Water hardness is one of the more significant factors that can result repairs, but regular system maintenance steps can diminish the effects of hard water.

Hard water is full of minerals, and these minerals can result in scaling and other issues inside your system. While water hardness is dependent on region, even homeowners in areas known for low levels of may face these same repair and maintenance issues. After all, all tap water that flows through your system has at least trace elements of minerals that can build up over time.

See Also:  Condensing vs Non-Condensing Tankless Water Heaters

How Tankless Water Heater Maintenance Helps

You can schedule service or take a do it yourself approach to deal with maintenance. The primary type of maintenance service that’s needed for most of these units relates to cleaning the system in different ways. If minerals have caked onto the components in the unit, descaling efforts must be made. To greatly reduce buildup, installing an inline filter is a good investment.

Otherwise, a general cleaning is beneficial. These steps help your system to operate with peak efficiency and reduce related energy costs. In addition, these steps may reduce unnecessary wear and tear, and they may potentially help your unit to last longer.

Descaling Process

If you live in an area with hard water, descaling is necessary from time to time. Descaling is the process that involves removing the accumulated gunk inside of your system. The minerals in the water can settle in your system to create a thick mess.

The descaling process is similar to the flushing and cleaning process below. However, it also involves running a significant amount of water vinegar through the tank. Vinegar will break down the mineralized gunk inside your unit.

Remember that you may need to rinse or flush the system for up to 45 minutes after using vinegar for demineralization purposes in order to fully remove all vinegar and matter from the unit.

Here are descaling instructions for the most common tankless water heater manufacturers:

Here’s a good video showing the process:

Flushing the System

Regardless of the level of water hardness in your area, all tanks should receive regular cleaning. The process is a bit more involved than flushing a storage tank water heater but pretty straightforward. The frequency of this service may range from between 6 to 12 months in many cases. The flushing process requires you to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Related: How to Flush a Tankless Water Heater (Step-by-Step)

Generally, you will shut off the power and water supply to the water heater, attach a short hose to each of the isolation valves, connect a small pump to the end of the cold water hose, and then place both the end of the hot water hose and circulation pump inlet hose into a 5-gallon bucket of water.

You’d turn on the pump and have it circulate water through the tankless water heater for about an hour. The force of the water through the system will help to clean the system and may remove any minerals that have been deposited in the unit.

When to Perform or Schedule Service

Now that you understand the importance of maintaining your tankless water heater (see also ‘How To Winterize A Tankless Water Heater‘) and the steps required, you must decide how frequently to complete the cleaning. More than that, you must decide if you’ll do it yourself or if you’ll use a professional.

While these rudimentary steps may sound simple enough to complete, you need to understand which valves control which aspects of the unit before you start fiddling with it. In addition, you want to ensure that your efforts sufficiently clean the system.

If you’re planning to schedule service with a plumbing company, consider doing so today. Your plumber can then inform you of a recommended frequency for maintenance services on your tankless water heater (see also ‘Water Heater Repair Cost Guide‘) in the future.

If your tankless water heater goes out of commission, you may have to live with the inconvenience of having not hot water until the unit is repaired. In addition, the cost to repair is almost always higher than preventive maintenance. While you can’t prevent all types of issues from happening, you’ll be at a much lower risk of one occurring. By reading through your product manual, you can learn more about the specific maintenance steps required for your particular model.

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Anthony Barnes
Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age


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