A tankless water heater is considered the most modern heating device to supply continuous hot water flow. It is also an energy-efficient ‘green' alternative to a tank water heater. Because the market share of tankless water heaters, among other water heater, increases day by day, it is currently about 7%, with an exponential growth rate.
However, the use of tankless water heaters is triggered due to the imposing of new codes on tank type by the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act of 1987 (NAECA). The cost of new tankless comes much closer to old tank-type water heaters over the period. Manufacturers are bound to bring continuous improvement in quality due to the imposing of new codes by NAECA, directly impacting the cost of purchase. On the other hand, tankless manufacturers are developing new smaller, more economical models that reduce the price day by day.
You may know that to supply hot water, a tankless water heater does not use any reservoir. Instead, it heats the cold water inflow with a high-power burner to pass through a heat exchanger. So you get instant hot water whenever you need it. However, you have to ensure the proper installation and scheduled maintenance to get uninterrupted flow year over year without any bother.
Like a tank water heater, the chances of leakage in tankless is decidedly less still it may happen. Mostly, leakage observes at the bottom and the connections of the tankless water heaters. Initially, it looks pretty insignificant, but it may turn into catastrophic damage if you ignore it. So, immediately after lookout a small leak, it is better to engage an expert plumber in checking the whole thing to avoid a big mess.
Usually, a tankless leak is around 1 GPM, much less than terrible flooding of tank water heater, but still, much water if not contained. As a precaution, it is better to hold leakage water temporarily, and you may install a drain pan that saves you from significant unwanted expenses.
Causes of Water Leakage in Tankless Water Heater
We discuss more details about the origins of water leakage in tankless water heaters below –
Ventilation plays an essential role in proper fresh air inflow into the heat exchanger. So, need extra care or professional installation of venting pipes. Lack of adequate venting will cause water leakage, and it is a well-known culprit for tankless water heaters. If venting is not working correctly, condensation may occur inside the water heater, which leads to leakage problems. If condensation continues, it might fall on the entire system. Protect condensation, and it is preferable to install a power or direct vent or horizontal venting. Keep the vent line as short as possible. Vertical venting is harmful to a tankless water heater. For better performance, following the manufacturer’s instructions on the venting process is wise.
How to vent a tankless water heater?
This is one of the most common concerns about venting a tankless water heater. The concern is correct because if you fail to vent your tankless heater properly, your house can suffer from Carbon-monoxide poisoning. The heater also will fail to live up to its entire lifespan. It is all about choosing the proper venting system as per your house condition. However, it is very intimidating to some people because of lots of information on the internet. We will try to help you by detailing some options venting for the tankless water heater. You need to choose which one is the perfect venting option for you.
Direct Vent system
This system's combustion air comes from outside & supplies necessary oxygen to the combustion process. There are two vent pipes linked from the water heater to the outside area of your hose. One tube is to supply fresh air to the burner & through other pipe exhaust gas. This system prevents your house from being damaged by Carbon-Monoxide, resulting in accidental fires. The direct vent can be done in both vertical & horizontal order. This direct vent method is more prevalent in common environmental areas.
Non-Direct Vent system
In the non-direct venting process, the air is pulled to the burner from inside Space to continue the combustion process. An electric blower fan is used to draw the air to the outdoors. So there is a risk of carbon monoxide gas poisoning, a safety issue. Better to check the manufacturer's manual before choosing this venting system. Venting can be done both horizontally & vertically.
Outdoor Vent system:
Safety first! Combustion air is received from the environment around it. It also exhausts in the same way. We recommend you get a suggestion from your water heater supplier for deciding on a venting system. If your living area is warm enough, you can choose this system.
Water Pipe Connections
The piping connections flow the hot water from the tank to the fixtures. During its passage, there are several joints and valves act. Improver setting or loose connection, any of them may occur during water leakage. The relief valve is essential among valves and can protect water dripping through the joints. Moreover, necessary for flushing or drain the tankless device. The relief valve is customarily set on the hot water outlet from where the pipe is leaving the heater to the faucets. Ensure that all lines and valves are joined correctly, and you set the relief valve during installation according to the size of the heater.
The tankless water heater is an efficient device, no doubt. However, to get maximum efficiency, it needs a dedicated gas line. It is recommended to use a separate gas line next to the meter to run directly to the water heater without re-running the entire gas main. Put fewer joints as possible during installation to avoid unnecessary leakage. Gas leakage may occur significant damage immediately after notice, and it takes expert advice and professional repair.
Acidic and Hard Water
Mineral deposition inside the pipe is not right of any water heater. It creates pressure on the heat exchanger, which causes overheating. Hard water contains calcium, and manganese is responsible for mineral buildup, which blocks the piping system and leads to water leakage. Acidic water affects the meals used for plumbing. It origins pinholes in the tankless water heater and pipes from the heater to fixtures. These pinholes promote leakage in the long run. If the pH of your water is less than seven means, the water is acidic. If the pH level is much lower than 7, the chances of leakage will increase highly. Water pH is a determinator of necessary or hard water and acidic water. So, you have to check your water supply's pH level. If it is around seven, then safe; otherwise, need treatment to avoid any damage.
High Water Flow Rate
One of the primary constraints of a tankless water heater is low flow rates and low water pressure. This means it is designed for performed in low pressure, like 30 psi, for household uses. Deposition of debris in showerhead or faucets aerators or inside the heat exchanger hinders normal water flow, leading to high water pressure. So need regular flushing and checkup. Operating the tankless water heater under high pressure might cause a fire up.
How to Fix a Leaking Tankless Water Heater
The following are possible measures to fix the water leakage problems of the tankless water heater.
Replacing or Repairing
Take immediate action to repair the tankless water heater after finding a leak. If you think the problem severs enough, you may go for a replacement. Whatever you decide, take an expert opinion before doing so.
Installation of Drain Pan
As a precaution setting a suitable drain pan contained 100% leak in the tankless system. A drain pan protects your property from damage from possible water leakage and saves thousands of dollars in structural repairs, preventing mold issues, etc.
According to insurance companies, water heater failure is one of the top five reasons behind water losses. Moreover, 69% of those failures happen due to slow leaks or sudden bursts, averaging $4444 per incident.
So, if you still have not installed a drain pan for your tankless, do it today.
Contact the Manufacturer
Every device is under cover of a warranty, and tankless is no exception. Typically, all manufacturers offer a standard one-year contract for their products, so be careful not to do anything that voids the warranty. Contact the manufacturer immediately if you find any leak in the water heater or pipelines for warranty coverage.
The reasons behind the tankless water heater leak are almost similar to the tank types. The leading cause of premature failure is improper installation, including improper venting, lousy water condition, or pumps not working. Proper servicing & maintenance and professional installation prolong the life of tankless up to 20 years or more without any leaking problems. However, this is not happening for all tankless, and it is not apparent too.
Finally, we can say tankless will be the best option for your home's hot water supply in any aspect as well as it's famous for saving your valuable money by consuming less energy.
Common Tankless Water Heater Problems, and how to fix them?
Water heating is the most significant energy user among other house activities. At the same time, the water heater is such a vital device responsible for bringing happiness and comfort to homeowners. Beating the drum in favor of a tankless water heater is not over-excused. As tankless heaters are more efficient enough than any other standard heating device, they save energy and save your money too.
The best part of these on-demand heaters is they rarely produce any problems. However, they are not beyond the suspicion of technical hitches. But, these technical hitches are most cases, self-evident. Like you open the faucet and not get hot water flow. Here we bring up some common tankless water heaters problems in light with a guideline on fixing them.
Mineral buildup / Preventing scale buildup
- It may happen if the source of water is hard.
- Hard water with high mineral content is the potential for mineral buildup
- Calcium and Magnesium are responsible for the scaly buildup
How to fix
- Flush the water heater every six months or earlier based on the percentage of mineral content in the water with a cleaning kit
- The use of a water softener can slow down the process to an extent
Tankless water heater water pressure issues
- Running multiple showers or using too much hot water simultaneously are liable for this problem.
- Observe struggling to supply hot water as per demand, or a sudden shutdown may occur.
How to fix
- Try to avoid multiple hot water use in a single moment
- In case of a sudden shutdown, reset the whole system and restart
- If it happens more frequently, you may replace the current with a larger capacity tankless one or install another parallelly to fulfill access demand. Though it is a costly option, it will save you money in the long run.
Cold Water Sandwich Effect
- You start a shower with hot water, after a few moments you feel cold, then again get hot water. If you experience something like this called ‘Cold Water Sandwich.’
- Though tankless water heaters are a continuous type, it needs a few moments to heat the water and circulate to the faucet. It happens due to back-to-back showers by your family members. The previous member finishes his bath, the hot water still in the pipe, but the water heater stops heating, that moment, you enter for a shower and turn on the faucet. You will bless with a Coldwater sandwich in this case.
How to fix
- If you are already familiar with this problem, be prepared for your next shower. Gap some time if your earlier member finishes their shower just now.
- You may drain out the initial waters to allow the heater to start working and supply continuous hot water flow.
Air supply or Exhaust Blockage
- Improper installation or leakage in the vent pipe interrupts the combustion airflow or blocks the vent pipe.
- Failure to maintain proper clearance for air ventilation as per the instruction manual may be too close to other objects that block the air supply, such as the risk of fire hazards.
- Birds, nests, rodents, and the wasp may also create an obstacle in vent pipes exposed outside your home.
How to fix
- Check the whole vent line thoroughly and clean as per instruction
- If necessary, you may take help from expert plumbers
Tankless water heater ignition failure
- In ignition failure, check whether the gas supply is on or off.
- The propane tank is empty or full.
- Check the gas pressure is enough to ignite the flame or not
- Check the gas valve and or water valve are fully open or not
- Check the components for electric short
- If you found it all in a suitable condition, it may happen due to the failure of the ignition pack.
How to fix
- It is suggested to take expert help to fix it immediately to avoid further hazards.
- Irregular Water Temperature (either not hot at all or hot enough)
Tankless water heater too hot
- If you find water is too hot, it may scald your skin
- Check temperature settings are high or not
- Check thermostat is working correctly or not
- Water is flowing inside the heat exchanger adequately or not
Tankless water heater takes too long to get hot water
- If you find the water is not hot enough
- Maybe you set low temperature, check temp. controller
- Gas pressure may be quiet if gas operates it
- Water filter or fixtures aerator may clog
How to fix
- Fix the temperature in the controller as per your desire
- Ensure minimum water inflow
- Fix-up thermostat if not working properly
- Clean-up deposition inside the heat exchanger. To do this, take expert help
Bad Smell and Discolor
- If you found a strange odor, determine whether it is from the source of water or the heater
- It is for source if you find lousy fragrance in cold and hot water.
- Water containing Iron, Copper, or other mineral is liable for discoloration
How to fix
- Use the filter for the water source or the whole house
- Use of water softener
Regular Maintenance Can Increase the Life of Water Heater. So -
- Clean the burner, control components, and vent air passageways
- Inspect the flame visually; the blue and stable flame is suitable for even heat generation
- Keep fan and motor dust free with the help of an air blower
- Flush the heat exchanger with an anti-scaling solution in every six months interval
- Keep vent exhaust-free from other objects like snow, birds' nest, etc.
No doubt tankless water heater is a great device. But nothing is entirely problem-free. Regular intensive maintenance can reduce the chance of failure tremendously and increase the lifespan. If necessary, do not hesitate to take the expert opinion.