Nicolette Forbes

By: Nicolette Forbes on April 27th, 2022

Print/Save as PDF

What is a Neutralizer?

Tankless Water Heaters

Congratulations! You’ve got a tankless water heater! But is water now leaking from your water heater and turning your concrete a green/blue color? Or is the water now killing your plant life outside?

Not to worry. Want to know why that is and how to stop it? Then you’ve come to the right page! 

Here at Monkey Wrench Plumbing, protecting your home is a top priority. Since 2007, we have been dedicated to providing the best service to our clients and answering all the questions that you may have about anything plumbing-related. Regarding your current issues, the device you’re looking for is called a neutralizer.

In this article, I am going to walk you through:

  • What a neutralizer is
  • What it does
  • Discuss the costs of having a neutralizer installed 
  • Benefits and drawbacks of having a neutralizer installed in your tankless water heater

By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear understanding of how a neutralizer works and if installing a  neutralizer is the right choice for your home.

Let’s get started!

What is a neutralizer?

A neutralizer is a canister filled with gravel-like rocks that are usually found in a tankless water heater.  When a tankless water heater condenses, the water coming out of the unit is acidic. This acidic water passes through the neutralizer with a material that raises the pH level to make the acidic water balanced again.


image (2)

Therefore, when it reaches your plumbing system it’s no longer harmful to your sewer, your drain, or the grass. If you do not have a neutralizer on your tankless unit, it will most likely leave behind a blue/green buildup that is harmful to the environment and your plumbing system. Additionally, having a neutralizer is required by the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA. 

By Los Angeles County city code, you are mandated to have a neutralizer to prevent the low-quality water from damaging nature.

Sounds important, right? But how does it work exactly?

How does a neutralizer work?

A neutralizer is typically found on tankless water heaters that condensate or have a condensation line. When a water heater condensates, this water coming out of the unit is usually acidic. With the neutralizer, the water is neutralized from a high acidic level down to safer levels. To further break it down: when a tankless water heater condensates, the condensing water goes into the canister system, travels through the gravel rocks, and exits the water heater as safe, neutralized water.

For those of you who need a refresher, condensation is when water vapor becomes a liquid. A prime example of this is when you are boiling water with a lid, and droplets begin to form on the inside of the lid.

You do not want anyone or animals (including your pets) to drink that discolored water.

Additionally, if you are not neutralizing your water levels with the neutralizer, this can slowly over time corrode the pipes in your sewer system. Which, let’s face it, is a problem we do not want. Now, this is not to be confused with a filter. Filters will filter out hard water or contaminants in water, whereas a neutralizer will bring down the acidity of water from condensation.

Now that you know what a neutralizer is and what it does, let’s jump into the costs. 

What does it cost? 

The costs of a neutralizer are generally not bank-breaking. Our subject matter experts say purchasing a neutralizer will cost you between $150 to $300. However, that does not include manual labor costs or any other additional parts you may need to properly install a neutralizer which can range from $295 to $450. It’s also worth noting that a neutralizer will last you around two to three years before you should consider getting a new one.

We here at Monkey Wrench recommend that you call your local plumber or us for better estimates on neutralizer installations, as prices may vary due to labor costs and any extra parts needed for the installs. It’s also worth noting that a neutralizer will last you around two to three years before you should consider getting a new one.

So we’ve gotten this far, and you may be questioning if you really even need a neutralizer. Well, in this next section, we’ll go through the benefits and drawbacks of having a neutralizer. 

Benefits and Drawbacks

Having a neutralizer can provide you, your home, and your environment with plenty of benefits.


    1. Environment/Plant Life

      Having a neutralizer will save your plants outside and prevent your concrete inside from being stained due to the acidic water.
    2. Concrete/Sewer

      By having a neutralizer, your plant life and sewers will also be protected from acidic water.

While there are a bunch of great things that come with having a neutralizer installed, here’s what happens if you don’t. 


    1. Wear & Tear

      Without a neutralizer, the acidic water that moves through your plumbing system can ultimately corrode the pipes and cause serious damage to your drains or sewer.
    2. Green Algae

      Without a neutralizer, you will also be introduced to green algae. Green algae will form on the ground from the condensation drip from the tankless water heater.  The algae is incredibly slippery and can be potentially dangerous for you and your family.
      Green algae forming on the steps of a home due to the condensation drip

To neutralizer or not to neutralizer

So to recap, in this article, we learned what a neutralizer is and how it functions in a tankless water heater. We also talked about prices, along with the benefits and drawbacks of having a neutralizer installed with your tankless water heater. Having a neutralizer will certainly prolong the lifespan of your tankless unit and plumbing system by eliminating the acidic water that causes critical damage to your pipes and concrete while also being harmful to your landscaping and animals. 

Having a neutralizer installed also prevents possible slips and falls from green algae and ultimately protects your home.

Be sure to click the links below, as there’s a ton of information we have that will also teach you about other important parts of your tankless water system and how they work!

What is a circulation pump?

Copper vs Steel Heat Exchangers

Isolation Valves 

We here at Monkey Wrench Plumbing are dedicated to giving you all the facts and answering any questions you may have so that you can make the best decision possible for you, your home, or your business.