Switching to the tankless water heater is a great way to reduce the energy costs, giving the fantastic benefit of having hot water on demand, endlessly. Even if tankless water heaters pose a lower risk for corrosion (the water only runs through and doesn’t stay in the system) and are more durable than the traditional water heaters with tanks, they still require your attention.
Taking care of a tankless water heater isn’t complicated, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. Flushing the unit once a year and installing a water softener may be enough most of the time. However, you may still have to service your unit now and then, as no product ever humanmade is perfect.
Truth be told, all mechanical devices and equipment require regular maintenance for better durability and performance. The tankless water heaters don’t make an exception, so you have to keep reading for the details.
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What issues is a tankless water heater likely to develop?
Tankless water heaters are rather new technology, which is intended to require less maintenance. They run differently from the traditional water heaters with tanks, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t malfunction at times. Most of the time, you need to hire professional help, which may cost you from $150 to more than $800. However, common repairs are somewhere around $600.
Taking care of your tankless water heater regularly should lower the risk of severe problems and repair. It can expand the lifespan of your unit and improve its performance. Water hardness is a crucial aspect to consider, but using a water softener may solve the problem right from the start.
Hard water isn’t suitable for your tankless water heater (or any other water-related appliances) because it contains minerals (calcium and magnesium are the most important ones), which lead to scaling and various issues in the water heater. Water hardness is different between regions, but even if you live in an area with a low level of hardness, you may still have to deal with maintenance problems. Tap water flows through the system, and the trace elements of minerals do build up after some time.
Periodic flushing will keep mineral and sediment away from your tankless water heater. Cleaning the buildup helps your unit run more efficiently, and flushing it once a year should be enough. Flushing and cleaning the water heater can get as high as $200. However, many models come with user manual teaching you about flushing. It’s not very complicated, and you can try it if you are the DIY-type of the customer.
Even if you may be tempted to ignore the minor issues, it’s better that you solve the problems from the moment that they occur. The longer you wait, the more expensive it will be for you to fix the unit.
How much will you pay for repairs?
Tankless water heaters come in a great variety of models, so you may not know how much you’ll pay for fixing until the plumber is in front of your unit. On the other hand, you can still make an idea about the money you’ll pay for various jobs:
- Pressure relief valve- $20 to $200
The pressure relief valve is a feature that helps the water pressure to remain at proper levels. If the pressure goes too high, the valve is opening to release some of the pressure.
When the valve starts leaking, the pressure of your unit is too high. The pipe may also be clogged or faulty. A new pressure relief valve is $20, whereas repairs can be as high as $200.
- Thermocouple- $20 to $150
Sometimes, the pilot light in the gas water heater no longer runs, in which case the thermocouple may be the main cause. It’s a device that identifies when the pilot light is lit, triggering the gas control valve.
You have to hire a professional plumber for the repairs, which is around $150. The thermocouple is only $20.
- Gas control valve- $300-$500
A bad gas control valve is another problem that gas-fired tankless water heaters may present. If the pilot light and the thermocouple are working just fine, but you still have issues with the water heater, the gas control valve is the leading cause nine times out of ten. You have to repair it professionally, which can set you back as much as $500.
No matter how pricey it is, you can never go without replacing the gas control valve as it’s your life at stake. When the gas flow isn’t controlled accurately, the risk for accidents is high, and you cannot afford it.
- Electric thermostat- $150 to $200
It’s obvious that only the electric tankless water heaters would have problems with the electric thermostat. The thermostat controls the temperature in the water heater, turning on the heating element when more heat is required. If the water is warm enough, the thermostat will turn off the elements.
When the water doesn’t get hot enough, the thermostat may be the cause. A thermostat is only around $20, but you should hire professional help, which costs you up to $200.
- Heating element- $200-$300
Electric heaters are made with a conductive metal element for heating the water. Once the element is corroded or doesn’t function anymore, the water won’t heat again. Repairing the heating element is a job for the professionals, so prepare $300 for the job.
How often do you need to service the tankless water heater?
It goes without saying that you cannot undermine the importance of maintenance for your tankless water heater. It’s essential that you know about the hardness of the water in your area so that you (feel free to ask your plumber too) establish how often you should clean the unit. You may have the plumber do the flushing for you, or you can learn from him.
Either way, it’s only the flushing and cleaning that may be performed without professional help. For any other problems related to the heating elements (in the case of electric models) or pressure valves (for the gas models), you should always get in touch with the professionals.