Tankless water heaters are becoming more popular in Snohomish County as people learn of this technology and how it can save them money. Learn how to service a tankless hot water heater to extend the life of your unit. Flush your unit once a year can stop corrosion and leaks from claiming your tankless hot water heater prematurely. Or you can call Danika for plumbing services in Snohomish and beyond!
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What’s the main objective for tankless water heater maintenance?
One of the most important parts of servicing these water heaters is descaling. Depending on the hardness of the water that flows through it, lime scale builds up on the parts of the water heater that come in contact with the water. It eventually builds up enough to flake off inside, potentially reducing the water flow or even blocking it. It also interferes with the heating efficiency of the heater, meaning it costs more to heat the water.
Descaling or flushing the water heater involves running vinegar through the system. The vinegar reacts with the limescale, causing it to dissolve right from the interior of your water heater. This process reduces the chance of repair and quiet clogging and noise, which can be caused by a buildup of scale inside the heater’s parts. It will also improve the speed of heating the water, which can be slowed by a scale buildup, and reduce the need for a water heater replacement.
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Supplies you’ll need
- A sump pump, pond pump, or submersible utility pump. (A pump of 1/6 horsepower is ideal for this job. Exercise caution if you’re using one stronger than 1/4 horsepower)
- 3 gallons of white distilled vinegar.
- 5-gallon bucket.
- Two lengths of hose (about two to four feet long) should have been supplied with your unit. If not, they can be found in local hardware stores. They look similar to water supply hoses for washing machines. You’ll also need your owner’s manual.
Prepare the water heater
Depending on how your unit is powered, shut off the gas line or trip the proper circuit breaker. Take off the access cover, which is usually attached with a few small screws or metal tabs. Then turn off the water supply valve and the hot water valve. Release the pressure release valve.
Set up the pump
- Hook one hose to the inlet side of the water heater where the tap water goes into the system. It should have a separate hose connection to enable this. If not, you may need to remove the existing supply hose.
- Connect the other end of the hose to your sump pump.
- Fill your five-gallon bucket with the three gallons of white distilled vinegar, then place your sump pump into the bucket.
- Connect your second hose to the hot water valve where the hot water comes out, then put the other end into the bucket with the pump.
Open both the hot and cold water valves on the water heater, then turn on the pump. What you’ve done is create a closed-loop system so that the vinegar goes through the water heater, into the bucket, then back through the pump, and back into the water heater.
Let this run for an hour, then turn off the pump, dump the vinegar, and fill the bucket with fresh water to rinse the vinegar out of the system.
When you’re done, turn off the pump, remove both hoses, then close both valves. Re-connect any hoses you disconnected when you attached your hoses. Follow the directions in your owner’s manual for starting up procedures and setting the best temperature for your tankless water heater.
Usually, this means turning on the water first before restoring the gas or electricity. If you see any leaking go on it may be one of the many signs you need a new water heater.
Some tankless water heaters have a screen that prevents larger-scale flakes and debris from reaching the heating unit. These filters usually last for the life of the heater. These screens can easily be cleaned under running water.
If your screen is coated with a scale that doesn’t come off easily, soak it in vinegar for a half-hour to an hour, depending on how quickly the scale comes off. Removing this filter and reinstalling it depends on the make and model of your water heater. Your owner’s manual should have directions for this.
Depending on the hardness of your water, this descaling process should be done every six months to two years, making it once a year on average. It’s not a hard process, and although it is a bit time-consuming, it is very important.
Many homeowners learn how to service a tankless hot water heater but if you have doubts about the process, just give Danika Plumbing a call. We’ll be glad to take care of the descaling for you whether you’re in Snohomish, Edmonds, Kirkland, Lake Stevens, or anywhere in the Greater Seattle Area, we got you covered.