There’s a lot of things we have to do annually. Annual dental appointments are important to keep those pearly whites clean. Your smoke alarms should be checked once a year to ensure they are functional. If your car hasn’t had an oil change in a year, you’d better hightail it over to the nearest service station now!
With all these yearly tasks we’re forced to remember, wouldn’t it be nice to have something that you knew you could rely on for more than a year without maintenance? A Noritz tankless water heater could well be one such product.
Many believe that a tankless water heater needs annual maintenance, but that is a myth, according to Jason Fleming, marketing manager at Noritz America. “There’s no set time frame to service a tankless water heater,” explains Fleming. “It all depends on the hardness of the water.”
Water hardness refers to the percentage of compounds, like calcium and magnesium, in the water. Each region of the United States has water with varying levels of hardness. For example, many Western states have far higher water-hardness percentages than Northeastern states. (See this water hardness map.)
“The harder the water, the quicker those mineral deposits will build up in a water heater, be it tank-type or tankless, explains Fleming. Unlike a tank-type water heater, which forces the minerals to collect on the bottom of the storage tank, a tankless water heater pushes most of the scale through the system. If there is a buildup of scale somewhere in the tankless water heater, the burner will be forced to work at a higher temperature to properly heat the water. Eventually, the water heater, if it comes with scale detection software, will provide an error message that service is required
“In a very hard-water area, this could mean servicing the unit once a year, but in an area with softer water, you might go four to five years without any maintenance,” estimates Fleming. One way to cut down on the water hardness is to use a water softener with your tankless water heater.
To sum up: Maintenance frequency completely depends on location and whether the water heater has scale detection software. It occurs on a case-by-case basis, and there is no set schedule.
If you do get an error message and must descale or flush your tankless water heater, kits are available online to do it yourself. “We recommend a 60-minute flush, using a white vinegar as the descaling material,” advises Fleming. CLR-type products can be harsh on the copper heat exchanger within the water heater.
For more details on descaling your tankless water heater, including step-by-step instructions, please click here.