How To Prevent Debris From Clogging Your Tankless Water Heater

If your tank water heater has recently broken, then you may consider purchasing a tankless unit to reduce maintenance issues. Tankless water heaters do not require nearly as much maintenance as tank appliances, because there is no holding tank that can allow bacteria, corrosion, and fungi to grow. The lack of a tank also reduces most leak concerns. However, the water pipes that run through the tankless water heater can become clogged with debris. You can stop this from becoming a problem with the tips below.

Add A Sediment Filter

Both city and well water piping systems can deliver a great deal of sediment to your home. Part of this sediment may be iron that has released into the water from the bedrock that sits underneath the water table in your area. Iron can also feed into the water if mining is being completed nearby. Manganese can enter the water from bedrock too, like iron. Suspended sediment may appear in the fluid from water runoff as well. Silt, clay, and general debris may then be noticed in the water. If you have old water pipes in your home or throughout your water well, or if the town has not maintained the water pipes in your area, then corrosion may also break off and enter your water. All of these types of debris can easily clog your tankless water heater.

To help collect debris that enters your home, place a sediment filter along the supply line that feeds into the appliance. This type of filter uses either a bag or a cartridge filter to collect solids. Cartridge varieties are round types with a solid core that sits in the middle. The main part of the filter is constructed out of a polypropylene foam and it collects the debris. Bag filters are constructed out of a woven thermoplastic material that acts like a strainer or sieve as water passes through it. 

Some sediment filters have clear canisters on the outside that allow you to see the filter. Once the filter turns a light gray color, replace the filter or rinse it out if you have a reusable one. If the canister is not clear, then the filter will likely feature a gauge that tells you when to change the filter. If no gauge is included, then make sure to change the filter every three to six months

Clean Out The Attached Screen

Most tankless water heaters will have a screen attachment that helps to collect debris as it enters the cold water inlet valve. This screen is called the in-line water filter. The filter is made up of a a small plug, an o-ring, and a cylindrical screen that fits over the plug. The screen of the filter is quite small, so it can accumulate debris quickly, especially if you have chosen not to connect a sediment filter to the water heater. This means the screen should be cleaned out regularly. The clean out timeframe will depend on how much sediment is in your water. However, you should rinse out the screen every few months. 

To clean the screen, look for the shutoff valve on the cold water inlet pipe. Close the valve and follow the cold water pipe to the base of the water heater. You will see a threaded attachment that sits at the base. Twist off the attachment over a bucket so that water can drain from the end of the pipe. Remove the screen from the end. The o-ring will sit around the screen, so inspect the ring to make sure there are no cracks or breaks in the rubber. If there are, then the ring will need to be replaced. 

Rinse the screen off with clean water. If you see white deposits on the screen, then this will be a build up of calcium and magnesium from your hard water. Place the screen in a cup of vinegar for about 30 minutes to dissolve the minerals. Rinse the screen, replace it, and turn the water back on.

Contact a local plumber, such as A Absolute Plumbing & Heating, for more information. 

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