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2 Types of Tankless Water Heater Maintenance: Why They’re Important

Do you own a tankless water heater? Are you having any of the following problems with it?

  • Water temperature fluctuations
  • Hot water cutting off

  • Water not getting hot

  • Long wait times for hot water

  • No hot water

  • Decreased water pressure when you turn on the shower/bath

  • Fixtures far from water heater acting up

  • Error codes on the tankless status screen

If you circled any of the bullet points in this not-so-fun list, your water heater could need tankless maintenance. If your previous plumber didn’t tell you a tankless unit needs maintenance, you might even have bigger problems.

What makes us so sure about that? We’ve serviced tankless units for 14+ years all over the Los Angeles area, and we’ve seen just about everything.

By the end of this post, you will know the two types of tankless maintenance are and why they’re important to protect your water heater.


Tankless Maintenance Basics


Tankless units need maintenance, but what does that mean, and why is it recommended at least every year?

There are two types of maintenance. Both are vital parts of a water heater maintenance appointment:

  • Internal - Cleaning the parts water runs through.

  • External - Cleaning things like fans, filters, etc.


When these stay maintained, they can keep your tankless water heater running well. However, if a tankless unit is not taken care of, it can break down and cost you a boatload of money. It should also be said you should schedule maintenance appointments in advance. The reason you do this is so you don’t have to deal with situations like this:

You crawl out of bed tired from not getting a good night’s sleep. You don’t want to do anything today, but you’ve been so busy that you have to catch up on a ton of errands. So, you decide a nice hot shower will wake you up. You shuffle to the bathroom and turn on the water and wait. And wait. And wait. No hot water. Only horrible ice-cold water.

If you’re dealing with the above situation, you’re going to be in a bad mood all day. If your plumber can’t get you in for the week, you have a lot more to deal with than just a sour mood. So schedule before it becomes a big problem.


1. Internal Tankless Water Heater Maintenance


When you hear the term flushing, what do you think? If you’re not used to tankless maintenance, the first thing that might come to mind is a toilet, and you’re not too far off.

Flushing a tankless water heater means clearing out the pipes with a cleaning liquid.

Why does a plumber clean these pipes? Well, it has to do with hard water and limescale buildup. That’s the white stuff that gunks up your fixtures. Tankless water heaters are especially affected by white buildup because of the way they heat water.


Think of it like this:

A tankless water heater is like a coffee machine. If you don’t clean it out regularly, it won’t work. That’s why manufacturers include a flushing mixture with all the coffee machine’s attachments. You combine that mixture with water and run it through the system a few times.

When cleaning a tankless water heater, a plumber will cycle the cleaning mixture through the pipes for about an hour to clean it.


2. External Tankless Water Heater Maintenance


Now comes the overlooked part of tankless water heater maintenance. External maintenance. If your plumber doesn’t do this, block their number because they’re not doing a complete cleaning of your unit. You can still have these things clogging your water heater:

  • Bug infestations

  • Feathers or fur

  • Animal nests

  • Leaves

  • Dirt


Gross right? If these aren’t taken care of, your tankless water heater won’t work well no matter how many times you flush it. These can either wiggle their way in or get in due to the wind.

For example: If you have a tree next to your tankless unit, you’re going to get leaves in your tankless water heater.

Other external components plumbers should service during a tankless maintenance call include:

  • Fan motor, fresh intake valve, and exhaust - Cleaned with an air compressor to reduce energy waste.

  • Filters - Cleaned out or replaced to keep the unit protected from grime.

  • Burner and assembly - Cleaned to make sure they’re working correctly.

  • Gas and manifold - Checked to make sure they’re at stable pressures and working correctly.

  • Flame and ignition rods - Inspected and cleaned for proper levels and to ensure easy ignition.

Debris on flame and ignition rods

Skipping these important things is like changing your car’s oil and never doing anything else to it. That car will not work forever, and neither will a water heater. So, always make sure your plumber does external maintenance. It takes at most 30 minutes, if not less.


Ready to Schedule Your Tankless Maintenance?


To recap, you need to schedule at least a yearly maintenance for your tankless water heater. Also, make sure your plumber services the inner and outer parts of your unit. Otherwise, your tankless isn’t being correctly maintained.

Note: Some people with big households, really hard water, or trees that drop a lot of leaves have to get maintenance every six months, so keep that in mind.

White buildup in a big household after 6 months

It may seem that if you haven’t had water heater problems yet, you don’t need maintenance. The fact remains issues are building up behind the scenes, even if you can’t see them. When you notice the problems, it may be too late for a simple maintenance to fix them. Then you may have a bigger, more expensive problem on your hands.

We can’t speak for other plumbers if they do internal and external maintenance or not. We can speak for our crew at Monkey Wrench Plumbing. We do both types of maintenance and keep a detailed record of every appointment.

If you live in the Los Angeles area and you want to schedule an appointment, book us here Tankless Water Heater Maintenance.