The typical water heater type found in most modern homes is the tank water heater–large and noticeable, sometimes even a little noisy. In other words, it would be pretty hard to not pay attention to it, right? So, you probably already know that it would need an occasional tune-up. After all, it can suffer from scaling–which is a buildup of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and sometimes iron. This scaling can create problems with water pressure, corrosion, and the temperature of the water. As a result, tank water heaters need to be flushed out once a year.
It may seem to you, then, that a tankless water heater doesn’t need maintenance. This just isn’t the case though. In fact, much of the maintenance done for conventional tank water heaters is actually pretty close to what is needed for a tankless system. Read on as we uncover why your tankless water heater needs tune-ups just as much as a tank water heater would.
The Impact of Scaling on a Tankless Water Heater
Scaling affects a tankless water heater in such a way that it could prematurely fail on you, if you skip routine maintenance for the system. Hard water is what causes this problem–as we mentioned above that’s water with a high level of mineral contents in it. These minerals–calcium, magnesium, iron–solidify and become deposits in your tankless water heater. Hard water is harmless to ingest, but it can wreak havoc on your plumbing system, and a tankless system is no exception.
When hard water leaves behind mineral deposits, it’s called scaling. Where scaling does the most damage is on the heat exchanger component of the tankless water heater. As you may already know, the heat exchanger is the component responsible for actually heating up the water. You want this component to be clean so that water can be efficiently heated. Scaling will prevent the system’s burners from doing their job, which can eventually overwork a tankless water heater to the point that it breaks down.
When Is the Best Time to Schedule Tankless Water Heater Maintenance?
For some models of tankless water heaters, maintenance every 2-3 years will keep the system running smoothly through its lifespan. For other tankless systems, though, particularly those in communities that have a large presence of hard water, you’ll want to up this to annually, at least.
A professional plumber can help you determine if you have hard water by doing water testing in your home. Actually, you might be even able to detect hard water on your own–if you notice white spots on your dishes, faded laundry, or limescale buildup around your drains and faucet heads, this is a pretty clear sign that hard water is present. When you have hard water, soap residue doesn’t break down as it should, and that’s what leads to these problems. Unfortunately, it can also start corroding your plumbing pipes, which is why it’s so important to address.
To avoid big problems with hard water, talk to your plumber today about having a whole-house water softener installed!