How long do tankless water heaters last?

Hot water is an integral part of any home or business. At home, you use hot water to bathe, wash your hands, clean your dishes, and do several other important tasks, so ensuring you receive consistent hot water is important. One way you may get hot water in your home or business is with a water heater. There are two types of water heaters. Tankless water heaters, and water heaters with storage tanks. Choosing between them can have a difference in how long they last. Keep reading to learn how long tankless water heaters last and other important information.

What Is a Tankless Water Heater?

A tankless water heater is a smaller device that heats your water without needing a sizeable bulky tank to hold water. The way a tankless water heater works is that as you use water, it passes through the heater, allowing the water to heat up. This supplies you with endless hot water because any water that passes through the heater becomes hot. A tankless water heater doesn’t have anywhere to store water, instead using a system to transfer water from a regular water system in a home or business, through the heater and back into the standard water system.

There are several benefits of the tankless water heater. First, since all water can pass through the heater, it supplies an unlimited supply of hot water when you compare it with a tank water heater, which has a set amount of hot water it can create at any given time. Second, the tankless water heater can save you space, since it’s much smaller than a comparable tank water heater. This is useful in building design and efficiency of space. Finally, a tankless water heater has a longer lifespan than a tank water heater.

How Long Do Tankless Water Heaters Last?

The lifetime of a tankless water heater can vary based on the brand and its components, but the largest indicator of your heater’s longevity is the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is a component that changes the cold water you receive from your municipality into hot water for your home or business. Currently, heat exchanges can be copper or stainless steel. 

There are major differences between these two materials. With a copper exchanger in your water heater, you can get hot water fast, as the copper can heat up quickly, though it has the drawback of scale can build up quickly, especially without regular maintenance. Copper tankless heaters can last somewhere upwards of 20 years with proper maintenance. Stainless Steel water heaters take longer to heat water, but are more resistant to scale buildup and can last between 25 to 30 years if they receive annual maintenance.

How Long Do Tank Water Heaters Last?

On average, a water heater with a storage tank lasts around 12 years or 15 with a good maintenance schedule. This is shorter than a tankless water heater because of several reasons. First, a tank water heater is constantly exposed to water, since it stores it within the system itself. This means the tank water heater experiences more corrosion than a tankless heater. This can also create more sediment buildup than with a tankless water heater since the water can settle inside the tank. Finally, because of the corrosion and sediment buildup, a tank water heater can have leaks.

What Affects a Tankless Water Heater’s Longevity?

Besides the materials of the heat exchanger within the tankless water heater, there are some other factors that can affect its longevity, including hard water. Hard water is water with high mineral content. The minerals inside the water can build up within any systems the water touches, including piping around your home or business and the heat exchanger. You can prevent this buildup if you get water treatment before the water reaches your home or business. Water treatment can remove minerals from the water and is a form of preventative maintenance for your tankless water heater.

How Do You Prolong the Lifetime of Your Tankless Water Heater?

There are several processes you can follow to prolong the longevity of your tankless water heater, including regular maintenance on the system. Annual maintenance can help clear any sediment and corrosion from your tankless water heater. To clear your heaters system, follow the steps below:

  • Turn off the power.
  • Close the water supply valves.
  • Connect the hoses in your tankless water heater.
  • Put food-grade vinegar, such as white vinegar, in the tankless water heater.
  • Submerge a descaling pump in the vinegar.
  • Run the pump for about an hour.
  • Remove the descaling pump.
  • Drain the vinegar from the system.
  • Rinse the heater with water to remove excess vinegar.
  • Reconnect the hoses.
  • Open the water supply valves.
  • Discard the vinegar and any accumulated debris.

How Do You Tell If It’s Time to Perform Maintenance on Your Tankless Water Heater?

There can be several indicators that it’s time to perform maintenance on your tankless water heater. These signs include inconsistent water pressure, your heater turning itself off randomly, and a digital screen that says the heater needs maintenance. Other indicators you may experience include:

  • The water heater leaks while it heats the water which you can identify by a puddle on the floor where the water is, or by water running down the wall.
  • Inconsistent temperatures from the water heater which you may experience while using hot water faucets in your home or business.
  • Cold water when it should be hot, which you can identify when you try to use hot water faucets throughout your business or home.

Now that you’ve learned about the benefits of a tankless water heater, including how long it lasts, you’re prepared to identify when it needs maintenance. At Dahmer Mechanical, there’s a team of specialists who can help you with plumbing services and HVAC services. These include water heater maintenance and installation, and other services you can use. Learn more about their services by contacting them today.