Tankless water heaters, or on-demand water heaters, have been around for over a decade and have been proven to be a reliable, and an energy efficient alternative to tank-style water heaters. When problems do arise it's often a result of installation issues or a lack of maintenance.
Tankless water heaters are hi-tech appliances that heat water rapidly only when it's need, resulting in less wasted energy and a nearly continuous supply of hot water. When properly maintained they will last around 20 years. Here are some of the most common problems experienced with tankless water heaters.
1. Hard Water and Mineral Build-up
Hard water can lead to scaly calcium buildup which can increase the maintenance requirements for the unit. The unit should be flushed with vinegar following the manufacturer's instructions to prevent minerals from reducing performance or potentially damaging the unit. If your home has excessively hard water, it's recommended that a water softener be installed to prevent excessive calcium deposits form accumulating in the water lines.
2. Lack of Maintenance
This is related to the above problem. Most tankless water heater manufactuers include a maintenance schedule in the owner's manual. One of these maintenance items is flushing the water lines, usually with vinegar, to prevent the accumulaiton of mineral deposits that can build up over time and reduce burner efficiency and water flow. Check your owner's manual for the correct procedure for your tankless unit. Or, give us a call, we would be happy to help.
3. Burner Corrosion
While you're more likely to experience corrosion problems with a conventional tank-style water heater, tankless water heaters can also be damaged by corrosion if condensation drips onto on the gas burner and causes problems with the gas supply.
4. Excessive Demand
Before installing a new tankless water heater your plumber will ask about your water usage to calculate which unit will best serve your hot water needs. If you exceed the capacity of the unit by showering, doing laundry and other water-intensive tasks simultaneously, the unit may shut down to prevent damage from over heating. If you use a lot of hot water at the same time in different areas of your home, you may be better off going with a larger tank-style water heater.
5. Improper Installation
When a tankless water heater is installed it's essential that the unit have enough ventilation to allow excess heat to escape, and in the case of gas units, for exhaust gases to vent to the outside of the home. If not properly vented, the unit may overheat and automatically shut down as a safety precaution.
Have questions about tankless water heaters? Call Grand Lake Plumbing & Heating. We can help answer all your water heater questions.