Tankless water heaters are increasing in popularity, and for good reason. You get hot water on demand without the long wait for the tank to warm up again. These heaters also have a smaller footprint and often use less energy compared to traditional water heater tanks. There is one issue to watch for, though. Hard water can pose a major hazard to your tankless hot water heater. The following can help you avoid mineral buildup issues in your tankless heater.
Install a Water Softener
Hard water is the result of dissolved minerals in the water, most often calcium, lime, and magnesium. You can tell if you have hard water by examining shower surrounds or your faucets—if they tend to develop a cloudy or white residue, then hard water is an issue. Municipal water reports and private water testing can also alert you to hard water. If your home has hard water, then a whole-house water softener can prevent it from becoming an issue. You can also install smaller point softeners on specific water lines in the house. There are even point softeners that are designed to be installed on a tankless water heater that will filter out the hard minerals before the water flows through the heater.
Monitor the Scale Detector
Scale deposits from hard water builds up more slowly in a tankless heater as compared to a tank model simply because water doesn't sit in the tankless heater for very long. For this reason, many tankless heater manufacturers include a sensor in the appliance that will notify you on the digital readout if scale buildup needs to be addressed. For models without a sensor, there is another indication of a scale problem. Scale tends to buildup on the heat exchanger in the appliance. If there is too much scale on the exchanger, then the unit shuts off for safety reasons. You will be able to reset it, but it will shut off again shortly. If this happens, then you know there is scale that must be addressed.
Fortunately, scale buildup is easy to remove from tankless water heaters. Most of the manufacturers produce a descaling agent that you can flush through the unit, or you can use a general purpose descaler that is made for any tankless hot water heater. If you live in an area with very hard water, you will likely need to make descaling an annual tradition. In areas with only moderate hard water, you only need to descale every two or three years.
Contact a tankless water heater repair service for more assistance.