Tankless hot water heaters are a great investment for your home or business. Although it’s less common compared to tank water heaters, like any appliance or material possession, potential problems can arise. Here are six of the most common problems and maintenance concerns that you could experience with your tankless hot water heater.
- Mineral Buildup. Depending on the hardness of you water, you may experience minimal buildup. Typical culprits of this are calcium and/or magnesium in your water. Prevention is key to this issue. You can install a water softener to the front end of the system, or you could perform a yearly flush to avoid build-up of the scaly minerals. Many versions of tankless heaters have sensors to detect mineral build up to signal maintenance or for you to flush the water from the system.
- System Overload. Each system is equipped to provide a certain amount of hot water per minute. If your family or household exceed this measure then you may experience system overload. Each tank is labeled with its FHR, the first hour rating (FHR). The first hour rating is the measure of how much hot water the heater will deliver during a busy hour, typically first thing in the morning when household members are showering. The FHR is on the heater’s yellow EnergyGuide label. Basically, system overload is when the system isn’t able to keep up with the demand. Installing the correct size system and FHR from the get-go is key to system overload prevention. Unexpected increase in family size or demand? Consult with us as your professionals to determine how to remedy this problem.
- Cold Water Sandwich. This isn’t a huge problem at all, but rather a misunderstanding or inconvenience of the system. Here’s how it works: One family member takes a hot shower. A few minutes later another family member hops in the do the same. They’re greeted with a warm flow up water, followed by a few seconds of cold water, followed by hot water again. This isn’t a malfunction of the tankless heater. Rather, warm water from the first shower was left in the pipes and experienced by the second bather, before the new water entered the system from the second shower. It’s only a few seconds of cold water, but it comes unexpectedly to the bather. As a safe measure, just water 10-15 seconds before you enter the shower after another family member has bathed.
- Air Supply or Exhaust Blockage Message. Your tankless water heater is equipped to detect any air supply deficits or blockages. If you see this message, there likely is an occlusion, combusting, or problem with venting. This can be caused by vent pipes improperly connected, or holes in the piping. Check to see if you can visualize anything that looks suspect. A professional plumber can use equipment to detect the smallest holes and leaks. Perhaps a blockage is causing the leak. These blockages can be anything from nests, rodents, or other debris. You may be able to see a blockage in the line yourself, but it also may be hidden inside the fan motor or less obvious part of the system. As always, call a professional if you’re not familiar with water heater maintenance or repair.
- No Ignition Message. If you see a “no ignition” message your tank may be trying to light but unable to. This is typically due to insufficient gas supply. This could be due to simply an empty propane gas tank, an unpaid gas bill, or more unlikely cause is a blockage in the gas line. We can quickly and easily diagnose this failure.
- Flame Failure Message. This message could be similar in culprit as the “no ignition message”, or it could be a different gas or electrical issue. Often times there is insufficient gas pressure or a different electrical issue. If the gas line is too small then you may have a problem with proper ignition, regulator failure, or a difficulty with combustion or venting. We have the proper and safe equipment to diagnose this problem. Likely if it’s not related to gas pressure then there is an underlying electrical issue that can be addressed.