A Guide to Hard Water and Tankless Water Heaters


Hard water can affect a tankless water heater, leading to loss of hard water or even more extensive damages.

Signs of Hard Water

Hard water leaves behind a chalky white residue in most cases, although it may sometimes appear yellow or orange tinged depending on the minerals contained in your water. Typically the residue is most noticeable in areas where you use hot water -- on dishes, around the faucet, or on the shower walls. You may also sometimes experience blockages in the aerator screen of your faucet due to hard water.

A sign in your tankless water heater of hard water scale buildup is a reduction in the temperature of the water. As scale builds up in the lines, heat from the elements won't penetrate the water as well. Eventually, the lines may become clogged completely so no water comes out. Most tankless heaters will also throw an error code on their control panel to alert you to the issue.

Hard Water Damages

Damage to the heater can be extensive, especially if the early signs of hard water scale buildup are ignored and normal maintenance isn't performed. Badly blocked water lines may be irreparable, as thoroughly cleaning them can be difficult. The scale buildup can also clog and damage the inlet and outlet valves on the water lines, which means they will also fail. If major line blockage occurs, a water line could burst from the pressure buildup of the blockage. This will lead to water damage around the heater.

Overheating is also a concern. If the water isn't reaching the desired temperature due to the barrier in the line from the scale buildup, the heating elements may stay on too long and overheat. This will lead to further damages to the system and may cause the complete failure of the heating elements.

Repair and Prevention

If caught early, most hard water scale problems can be repaired easily. Your technician will clean all scale buildup out of the lines, as well as from the inlets and outlet valves. The tech will verify that the lines are sound and that there are no developing leaks. If more severe damage is present, your tech may need to replace lines, valves, or even the heating elements.

Hard water in the tankless water heater can be prevented. A tech can install an inline water softener that removes most of the hard minerals from the water before it goes through the heater. Annual flushing and cleaning of the water lines will also prevent issues.

Contact a tankless water heater repair service for more help.


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