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Have you ever thought about cleaning your tankless water heater? A tankless water heater is one of the most energy-efficient ways to get hot water on demand.

Although these heaters are known to be among the ‘least demanding’ appliances in terms of maintenance, cleaning them occasionally as a precautionary measure is not a bad idea!

So, to help you, we have written this guide to answer some of the most common questions about tankless water heater maintenance and the best ways to do it!

How Frequently Does A Tankless Water Heater Need Maintenance?

Tankless Water Heater Bathroom

Well, there’s no ‘one answer fits all’ scenario here, as the frequency of maintaining your tankless water heater will largely depend on the water quality in your area. For example, if your home receives hard water, it can inflict damage on the internal components of the appliance in the form of rust or corrosion.

Similarly, limescale build-up can cause the heating elements like the heat exchanger and gas burner to malfunction. Likewise, calcium deposits left behind by the minerals in hard water can cover the thermostat to the point where it fails to detect the proper water temperature. As a result, you may get scalding water from the faucets, and the increase in temperature can damage the tank body, causing leaks.

Aside from that, the accumulation of minerals and calcium can clog the water heater and other plumbing fixtures, resulting in low hot water production. The appliance may work harder to produce more hot water, reducing its lifespan.

Generally, it’s advisable to clean a tankless water heater at least once a year before the winter sets in, but you may have to do it more often, depending on the water quality in your area. Besides, most tankless water heater manufacturers will instruct you on the maintenance frequency, and it’s best to stick to that.

How To Maintain Your Tankless Water Heater?

Apart from cleaning the heater’s exterior with a clean, soft cloth, the other thing you need to do to maintain your tankless heater is to clean it from the inside. And for that, here are the things you will need:

  • Sump pump with a minimum output of 3/16 HP or tankless heater flush kit
  • A long hose
  • A 3 to 5-gallon water-filled bucket
  • Plumber’s tape
  • Wrench
  • Clean cloth
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Soap solution
  • White vinegar

If you can get a tankless water heater flush kit, the recirculation pump will generate enough power to flush the heater. But if you don’t have one, you can substitute it with a sump pump, producing a minimum output of 3/16 HP.

Remember that the sump pump should be completely submersible; otherwise, it can damage the heater or cause injuries immediately after water exposure. Now, let us walk you through the steps of cleaning the tank.

Maintaining Tankless Heater

Step 1- Switch Off The Power Supply

The number one rule before handling any appliance is to switch off its power supply. So, if your tankless heater runs on gas, turn off the valve that supplies the ‘fuel’. Likewise, switch off the power supply and unplug the heater if it’s electrically powered.

As a precautionary measure, ensure that the water supply to the heater is also turned off till you’re done cleaning it.

Step 2- Inspect The Heater And Repair Or Replace Any Damaged Parts

Detecting and repairing damages is vital before you proceed with the cleaning process.

Start by running a thorough visual inspection of the tank, first on the outside and then on the inside (by removing the cover). If you notice any corroded valves, replace them immediately.

Without an anode rod, the valves inside the heater are particularly susceptible to corrosion. You may even notice rusty flakes on other parts, so clean them gently with a soft brush or clean towel.

However, other issues like corroded casing or leaks may require you to avail yourself of professional services.

Step 3- Flush The Heater

The most crucial part of the cleaning process is flushing the tank. For this, add white vinegar to the water bucket in a ratio of 1:2 and mix it thoroughly.

Next, grab the sump pump, bucket and hoses. Then, remove the tank’s cold water line and connect one end of the hose to the valve. Attach its other end to the sump pump, submerge the pump in the bucket and switch it on.

If you’re using a flushing kit, follow the manual to set up the pump. Either way, the pump will create water circulation to cleanse the tank, removing sediment and scale build-up.

Let the sump pump run for about an hour, but a few recirculation pumps can clean the tank quicker than that, so stick to the instructions.

Step 4- Clean The Filters

Your tankless water heater will likely have an air filter near the intake on the inside, which can collect minerals and debris over time. And an inefficient air filter can cause problems with the tank’s functionality. So, take it out and clean it gently with a soft-bristled brush dipped in soap water. Once completely clean, rinse it with plain water and put it back in.

PS- if you can’t locate the air filter, refer to the owner’s manual.

Another thing to remember is that some tankless water heaters come with a water filter or screen near the cold water inlet, which should also be cleaned. Take it out, clean it the same way and reattach it.

Step 5- Reinforce The Connections

With time, the valves and screws inside and outside the tank can become loose, so tightening them using the wrench may be a good idea. You can also apply some plumber’s tape over the connections to keep them from coming loose frequently.

Step 6- Switch On The Heater

After everything is done, reattach the heater cover, switch on the power and turn on the water supply. Keep the heater running for some time to ensure it’s running normally.

Tankless Water System Shower

Practical Tips For Keeping Your Tankless Water Heater Running Smoothly

Despite having the steps broken down, we understand that cleaning appliances the DIY way may not appeal to everyone.

If you aren’t confident about cleaning your tankless water heater or don’t have the required tools, contact WP Plumbing. Our trained and licensed plumbers are equipped to offer maintenance services for all water heaters across Melbourne. Rest assured that your safety and comfort will always be our top priority! Also, to learn more about DIY plumbing, check out our expert tips!

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