3 Issues Your Tankless Water Heater May Face With Hard Water
Hard water can be a nuisance for a wide variety of reasons. Not only does it stain your fixtures and make shower time frustrating, but it can also cause a variety of plumbing issues. Hard water gets its hardness from dissolved minerals, which can dissolve in your pipes and appliances. Hot water can exacerbate this problem since heat will cause minerals in the water to precipitate onto surfaces.
Unlike a conventional storage water heater, water in your tankless heater must pass through relatively small pipes as it travels through one or multiple heat exchangers. Even if your water is not incredibly hard, this process can create mineral deposits on several crucial water heater surfaces. Here are three ways these deposits may ultimately result in costly repairs.
1. Reduced Heating
When minerals precipitate out of your hot water, they create scale deposits. These scale deposits can form inside the pipes that run through your water heater's heat exchanger. Since the heat exchanger relies on the efficient transfer of heat from the exhaust gases to your water, this build-up can reduce your water heater's efficiency. If left unaddressed, scale deposits can even ruin your heat exchanger.
You can deal with this problem by using a descaling chemical to clean the water heater in most cases. Unfortunately, ignoring hard water for too long can result in scale build-up that's difficult or impossible to remove. Once this occurs, you will typically need to replace your heat exchanger to repair your water heater.
2. Burner or Heating Element Failures
Your water heater includes either a gas burner or an electric heating element, depending on its fuel source. If you use a gas heater, then water will not flow directly over the burner. However, scaling on the heat exchanger pipes can prevent proper heat transfer to your water, potentially overheating the burner or the heat exchanger itself.
For electric water heaters, the heating elements themselves make contact with the water and heat it. If too much scale builds up on the heating elements' surface, they will eventually overheat and burn out. Most water heaters will shut down and warn you before the situation becomes critical, but repeatedly ignoring this warning can damage your water heater.
3. Water Flow Issues
Hard water can impact water flow in any home, but water heaters can be especially vulnerable to this problem. Tankless water heaters require a minimum pressure and flow rate to function correctly, but limescale deposits before the inlet can reduce the available water pressure. In these cases, your water heater may stop functioning altogether.
The best way to deal with hard water problems is to act proactively: through regular maintenance and installing a water softener. If hard water has already begun to impact your tankless water heater, however, then it's best to get in touch with an experienced plumber to diagnose and resolve the issue.
For more signs that you may need tankless water heater repair services, contact a local company like ATWH.