Commercial Tankless Water Heaters Maintenance: What You Need to Know

tankless water heaters

Tankless water heaters (sometimes referred to as inline or demand-type heaters) aren’t new, but they are becoming more common in commercial properties. Should tankless water heaters be a consideration for your properties?

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Here are a few considerations to help you determine if switching to tankless might make sense for your commercial properties—and what you need to know about maintaining a tankless water heater. 

Tankless vs. conventional water heaters 

Unlike conventional commercial water heaters, which have reservoirs that hold around 100 gallons of hot water always at the ready, tankless water heaters deliver hot water only demand, heating it instantly without a storage tank. How? Cold water flows through a heat exchanger in the tankless unit and is heated by a natural gas burner or an electric element. 

Benefits of tankless water heaters  

Water heating can constitute up to a quarter of all energy use for commercial buildings, which is why they require water heating systems that are efficient, reliable and able to keep up with the varying demands of their occupants. Tankless water heaters are causing some commercial businesses to make the switch from conventional units. Consider the benefits: 

Less expensive. Tankless commercial water heaters cost around $5,000 for the heater and installation versus an estimated $15,000 for a conventional commercial water heater. 

Smaller physical footprint. Space can also be a concern—especially for smaller buildings or businesses—another reason some commercial property owners are switching to tankless heaters, which are more compact because they aren’t storing gallons of water.  

More energy efficient. Because water is only heated on demand, tankless units don’t incur the standby energy losses that conventional storage water heaters do. In fact, tankless units with an Energy Star rating may use up to 25% less energy than conventional commercial water heaters.  

Reduced carbon footprint. Commercial propane tankless systems have a significantly lower environmental impact than their conventional counterparts. In fact, propane tankless units may produce 61% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventional electric water heaters.  

When tankless makes sense (and doesn’t) 

While tankless units clearly have their benefits, they aren’t the right choice for every commercial business.

  • Retail stores or smaller restaurants that don’t use a lot of water. 
  • Small commercial spaces (a 100-gallon water heater naturally takes up more space because it stores the water before heating it). 
  • Businesses with high hot water usage as they’d likely need multiple tankless units to meet their demand.


The importance of maintenance 

All commercial water heaters require ongoing maintenance to keep them in top condition, but tankless water heaters require flushing—a procedure not necessary for conventional units and one that many commercial businesses who’ve recently switched to tankless may not yet be familiar with.  

The water lines of tankless commercial water heaters should be flushed at least once per year to remove buildup on the heat exchanger (typically not covered under the unit’s warranty) and sediment that can collect in the pipes and cause problems—including shortening the life of the unit. Think of it like the oil in your car: If you don't change your oil, it's not likely going to explode, but it will certainly shorten the life of your vehicle. If you’re maintaining it regularly, you’re helping to prevent potential issues. 

Flushing may be needed more often in some parts of the country—up to two or three times per year—due to the type of water in the location (hard water with more mineral buildup tends to require more frequent flushing).

Building a maintenance program 

A full-service flushing program can help keep your tankless water heater operating at peak performance and avoid costly repairs and replacements. Chain Store Maintenance, an MCS company, offers a flushing program that includes:  
  • Securing your power and/or gas
  • Flushing your tankless water heater with an approved descaling solution
  • Cleaning or replacing the unit’s filter as needed
  • Re-connecting, refilling, re-energizing and testing your system to ensure there are no leaks
  • Clearing the area of all excess debris after the service 

Contact Chain Store Maintenance Today

Work with Chain Store and MCS to create a tankless water heater maintenance program for your commercial properties. Contact to learn more.