It’s always a good idea to learn how to maintain everyday appliances. Not only will you be able to get your appliance up and working quickly, but you’ll also save the money you would otherwise spend on hiring a professional. Of course, you will likely need help with major issues – but understanding your appliances means that when it comes to easy-to-fix problems, you’ll be able to handle them yourself.
This theory is also true for your tankless water heater. While water heaters may seem like a step too far when it comes to doing your own maintenance work, they’re not all that complicated to handle.
If you’re wondering how you should go about maintaining your tankless water heater, you’re in the right place. Here are some tips you should keep in mind.
CLEAN THE FAN AND MOTOR
The fan and motor of your tankless water heater should be clear of dust and dirt. You can clean these parts using pressurized or compressed air, which also allows you to get the dirt out of all the tiny crevices. This is one of the easiest parts of maintaining your water heater and should ideally be done every few months.
However, depending on where you live and where your water heater is installed, you may have to clean it more often – it all depends on how much debris your water heater is exposed to.
FLUSH YOUR HEATER
You will need to flush your water heater at least once a year. Flushing the heater essentially means removing the mineral build-up from the inside of your appliance. If left unattended, this build-up can damage the walls of your heater and affect its lifespan and ability to function.
Though flushing (also known as descaling) your water heater may seem complicated, it’s actually pretty straightforward. As explained by Sacramento-based plumbers, the tankless descaling procedure should be handled properly, so it’s best to have professionals inspect your heater before problems escalate. However, if you’re up for it, you can attempt to flush your heater yourself with the steps below:
- Turn off the power, whether that means turning off the gas or the circuit breaker.
- Close all the water valves so that no water will enter or exit your heater during the procedure. There will usually be three valves for you to turn off.
- Remove the purge port valve caps. The purge valves help control the pressure in your heater, and their handles are T-shaped. When removing these valve caps, make sure to do so slowly and carefully so that the pressure can be relieved gradually without the hot water burning you.
- Attach hosing lines to each of the valves (as mentioned above, there are generally 3 valves to a tankless water heater)
- Open the purge valves.
- Add descaling solution into your water heater. Alternatively, if you don’t want to use chemicals inside your water heater, you can use pure white vinegar as a natural alternative instead. You’ll need about 2.5 gallons of vinegar for a standard water heater, though this amount will change depending on the size of your appliance.
- Check the water heater manual for instructions on how to flush your appliance. Once you’re done flushing it, you will also need to drain it properly, and the procedure for this step will also be included in the manual. If you cannot find your manual, check to see if there’s a digital version you can reference instead.
- Once flushing and draining are complete, close the port valves, disconnect the hosing lines, and reseal the purge valves using the port caps you removed.
- Restart your water heater by turning the water valves back on and turning on the power. Don’t be alarmed if it takes a few moments before water starts flowing through your heater – the pipes will first expel the air within them before the water starts flowing properly once again. However, your water heater should be back to normal within a couple of minutes.
CLEAN THE FILTERS
Aside from the fan and motors, you will also need to regularly clean both your water heater’s air and water filters.
For the air filter, you will first need to detach it from the water heater. Once it’s removed, you can then use a soap and water cleaning solution and a soft brush to clean the filter. Clean it thoroughly to ensure there is no dirt or debris obstructing airflow, then rinse it well and let it dry before reattaching it to the water filter.
The water filter in your water heater is essentially a screen that is meant to trap any sediment in the water so that the water you use is as clean as possible. However, this sediment will need to be cleaned from the filter regularly – a built-up will prevent the filter from doing its job and will prevent it from working correctly.
To clean the filter in your tankless heater, you will first need to remove the filter. However, make sure the water is turned off before you remove it to reduce the risk of being singed by the hot water. Once it’s removed, clean the filter using the same water and soap solution you use for the air filter.
Once clean, wipe down the water filter and let it dry before returning it to your water heater.
CLEAN THE BURNERS AND OTHER KEY ELEMENTS OF YOUR GAS HEATER
If you’ve got a gas tankless water heater, you’ll need to ensure that all the “control” components are working properly. This means ensuring there’s no dust or dirt around the burners and also making sure that the control compartments and air passages are completely clean.
If these elements are not clean, you risk your water heater suffering from a major failure. Ideally, you should do this at least once a year.
When maintaining your tankless water heater, you should also consider just giving the outside of your tank a quick wipe. This will make sure that the outside looks just as good as the inside does – and as an added advantage, you’ll have a visual confirmation that you’ve finished cleaning (and you can also use the external appearance of the tank to decide when it needs to be maintained again).
That said, keep in mind that not everyone should or is comfortable handling their tankless water heater maintenance themselves. If you’re worried about your handyman skills, a bit concerned about your safety, or simply have a major water heater issue to deal with, you should always be open to contacting a professional. After all, a professional will know exactly what they’re doing, and there’s a lower chance you’ll lose time and money over a mistake, which is always a positive!