The tankless water heater is an ingenious, home water heating innovation that has been on the market for a number of years now and is becoming increasingly popular with consumers due to its long term energy and cost saving potential.
A tankless water heater looks and operates very differently from a traditional storage water heater, so everyday maintenance can sometimes be a challenge for the unfamiliar homeowner.
A tankless water heater heats water directly as it passes through its internal piping; it does not rely on a 20-80 gallon water storage tank like traditional models and is able to eliminate standby heat losses associated with these less energy efficient models.
With a tankless model there is absolutely no threat of diminishing your reserve of hot water to the point where you run out, as there is with traditional storage models. Because tankless heaters heat and deliver hot water almost instantaneously, there is significantly less lag time between when you turn on your faucet and when hot water is delivered.
One unfortunate drawback of the tankless models is their slower rate of flow compared to storage models. Typically, tankless water heaters provide hot water at a rate of 2–5 gallons per minute—gas fired versions provide higher rates of flow than electric powered versions.
To alleviate the problem of insufficient supply, homeowners will sometimes install multiple ‘point-of-use’ heating units to service different regions of their home or even single, high demand appliances.
Many tankless water heaters have a life expectancy of more than 20 years. Storage heaters by contrast, typically last only about 10–15 years.
In order to extend the life of your tankless water heater and keep it running optimally, manufacturers suggest performing certain maintenance steps every six months to two years.
Find a plumbing professional who can perform maintenance and extend your water heater’s life.
The key to proper tankless water heater maintenance is flushing the entire unit regularly to remove any mineral deposits (usually calcium) that may have built up inside the boilers.
Two to three gallons of white vinegar or another low-grade acid is pumped through the system with a sump pump to clear out these deposits.
Plumbing professionals will usually charge anywhere from $150-200 for this kind of service.