How to Descale a Tankless Water Heater

How to Descale a Tankless Water Heater

Are you tired of dealing with low water pressure and lukewarm showers? It might be time to descale your tankless water heater. Over time, mineral deposits can accumulate inside the heater, reducing its efficiency and performance. Don’t worry, descaling your tankless water heater is easier than you might think. In this article, we will guide you through the step-by-step process to help you restore your water heater to its optimal performance. 

Before we begin, it’s important to note that every tankless water heater is different, so we recommend referring to your manufacturer’s guidelines for specific instructions. However, the general descaling process involves flushing the system with a descaling solution to remove the mineral buildup. We will cover all the necessary steps, including preparing the solution, shutting off the power, and flushing the heater. By the end of this guide, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence on how to descale a tankless water heater, ensuring a reliable and efficient supply of hot water. Let’s get started!

What Is a Tankless Water Heater?

A tankless water heater, also known as a demand-type or instantaneous water heater, is a modern alternative to traditional storage tank water heaters. Unlike conventional water heaters that store and continuously heat a large amount of water, tankless water heaters heat the water directly as it flows through the unit. This allows for a more energy-efficient and space-saving solution, as there is no need for a bulky storage tank.

Tankless water heaters are becoming increasingly popular due to their ability to provide hot water on demand. They are typically more expensive upfront compared to traditional water heaters, but their long-term energy savings and convenience make them a worthwhile investment. However, like any water heating system, tankless water heaters require regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance and longevity.

Why Is Descaling Important for Tankless Water Heaters?

Descaling is an essential maintenance task for tankless water heaters. Over time, minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and lime can build up inside the heating element and pipes of the unit. This mineral buildup, also known as scale, can significantly reduce the efficiency of the water heater and restrict water flow. As a result, you may experience low water pressure, decreased hot water output, and even damage to the unit if left untreated.

Regular descaling helps remove these mineral deposits and restores the water heater’s efficiency and performance. By descaling your tankless water heater, you can ensure a reliable and continuous supply of hot water, improve water pressure, and extend the lifespan of your unit. It is recommended to descale your tankless water heater at least once a year, depending on the hardness of your water.

Signs That Your Tankless Water Heater Needs Descaling

How can you tell if your tankless water heater needs descaling? Here are some common signs that indicate it’s time to descale your unit:

  • Decreased water pressure: If you notice a significant decrease in water pressure, especially when using hot water, it could be a sign of mineral buildup in the pipes.
  • Fluctuating water temperature: If your hot water temperature fluctuates unexpectedly, it may be due to scale blocking the heating element or restricting water flow.
  • Longer heating time: If it takes longer for your tankless water heater to heat the water, it could be a sign that scale has formed on the heating element, affecting its efficiency.
  • Unusual noises: Scale buildup can cause unusual noises such as rattling or banging sounds coming from the water heater.
  • Higher energy bills: A less efficient tankless water heater due to scale buildup can result in increased energy consumption and higher utility bills.

Tools and Materials Needed for Descaling

Before you start the descaling process, gather the necessary tools and materials. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Descaling solution: There are various descaling solutions available on the market specifically designed for tankless water heaters. Look for a solution that is safe for your specific unit and effective in removing mineral deposits.
  • Large bucket: You’ll need a bucket to collect the water and descaling solution during the flushing process.
  • Hoses: Two hoses are required to connect the water heater to the bucket and facilitate the flushing process. Make sure the hoses are long enough to reach the bucket comfortably.
  • Pump: A pump can be used to circulate the descaling solution through the water heater, but it is not always necessary. Check your manufacturer’s guidelines to determine if a pump is recommended for your specific unit.
  • Gloves and eye protection: It’s important to protect your hands and eyes during the descaling process. Wear rubber gloves and safety goggles to avoid contact with the descaling solution.

Step-By-Step Guide to Descale Your Tankless Water Heater

  1. Read the manufacturer’s instructions: Start by carefully reading the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific tankless water heater model. The manufacturer’s guidelines will provide valuable information on the descaling process and any specific precautions or recommendations for your unit. Familiarize yourself with the instructions before proceeding.
  2. Gather your tools: Ensure you have all the tools and materials mentioned earlier for the descaling process.
  3. Shut off the power: Before starting any maintenance work on your tankless water heater, it’s crucial to turn off the power supply. Locate the power source or circuit breaker connected to the water heater and switch it off. This will ensure your safety during the descaling process.
  4. Close the water valves: Locate the cold water inlet and hot water outlet valves connected to the water heater. Close both valves to prevent the flow of water into and out of the unit.
  5. Connect the hoses: Take one of the hoses and connect it to the cold water inlet valve. Ensure it is tightly secured. Place the other end of the hose into a large bucket or container that can hold the descaling solution and water. Repeat the same process for the hot water outlet valve, connecting the second hose.
  6. Mix the descaling solution: Prepare the descaling solution according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Follow the recommended dilution ratio and ensure the solution is thoroughly mixed. Be cautious and follow any safety guidelines provided by the manufacturer when handling the descaling solution.
  7. Open the valves: Slowly open the cold water inlet and hot water outlet valves to allow the descaling solution to flow through the water heater. Keep an eye on the bucket to ensure it does not overflow. The descaling solution will start flushing out the mineral deposits from the unit.
  8. Pump the solution (if applicable): If your manufacturer’s guidelines recommend using a pump, now is the time to connect it to the hoses. The pump will help circulate the descaling solution through the water heater, enhancing the effectiveness of the process. Follow the pump’s instructions to ensure proper operation.
  9. Flush the system: Allow the descaling solution to flow through the water heater for the recommended duration specified in the manufacturer’s instructions. This can vary depending on the severity of the mineral buildup. While the solution is circulating, you may notice discolored water or sediment flowing out of the hot water outlet hose. This is a normal part of the descaling process.
  10. Rinse the water heater: After the recommended descaling time has elapsed, close the cold water inlet and hot water outlet valves to stop the flow of the descaling solution. Disconnect the hoses from the valves and remove the bucket. Open the cold water inlet valve and let clean water flow through the system for a few minutes. This will help rinse out any remaining descaling solution and debris.
  11. Reconnect the water heater: Once the system has been thoroughly rinsed, reconnect the hot water outlet hose to the unit’s hot water outlet valve. Double-check that all connections are secure and leak-free. 
  12. Restore power: Turn the power supply or circuit breaker back on to restore power to the tankless water heater.

Tips for Maintaining a Tankless Water Heater

Regular descaling is an important part of tankless water heater maintenance, but there are additional steps you can take to keep your unit running smoothly. Here are some tips for maintaining a tankless water heater:

  • Check the water hardness: Water hardness varies depending on your location. If you live in an area with hard water, which contains high levels of minerals, consider installing a water softener. A water softener helps reduce the mineral content in the water, minimizing scale buildup in your tankless water heater.
  • Inspect the unit regularly: Periodically inspect your tankless water heater for any signs of leakage, corrosion, or damage. Check the connections, valves, and pipes for any leaks or loose fittings. If you notice any issues, contact a professional for assistance.
  • Clean the inlet filter: Tankless water heaters have an inlet filter that prevents debris from entering the unit. Over time, this filter can become clogged with sediment. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to locate the filter and clean it periodically. A clogged filter can affect the water flow and reduce the efficiency of the water heater.
  • Flush the system: In addition to descaling, consider flushing your tankless water heater periodically. Flushing helps remove any sediment or debris that may have accumulated in the unit, improving its performance and extending its lifespan. Refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for instructions on flushing your specific model.
  • Schedule professional maintenance: While regular descaling and maintenance can be done by homeowners, it’s also a good idea to schedule professional maintenance for your tankless water heater. A professional water heater technician can perform a thorough inspection, clean the unit, and address any potential issues before they become major problems.

Professional Tankless Water Heater Descaling Services 

If you’re uncomfortable or unsure about descaling your tankless water heater yourself, or if you prefer to leave it to the professionals, you can always opt for professional descaling services. Hiring a licensed plumber or technician experienced in tankless water heater maintenance can ensure the job is done correctly and efficiently. They will have the necessary knowledge, tools, and expertise to descale your unit effectively, saving you time and effort.

Professional descaling services may also include additional maintenance tasks, such as inspecting the unit for any issues, cleaning the inlet filter, and providing recommendations for ongoing maintenance. This comprehensive approach can give you peace of mind knowing that your tankless water heater is in good hands.

Schedule Your Next Descaling

At Green City Heating, we offer professional tankless water heater maintenance services to help keep your unit running at its best. Our experienced technicians can properly descale and maintain your tankless water heater, ensuring it continues to provide hot water efficiently for years to come.

Contact us today to schedule your next descaling service and prolong the life of your tankless water heater. Keep in mind that regular maintenance , including descaling, can save you money in the long run by preventing costly repairs and extending the lifespan of your unit. With proper care and maintenance, your tankless water heater can continue to provide efficient hot water for all your daily needs. So don’t wait until it’s too late – schedule your next descaling today!

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