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How Long Do Commercial Tankless Water Heaters Last?

Updated: Jan 30

When well-maintained and expertly installed, a commercial tankless water heater can endure for approximately 15-20 years (ASHRAE Equipment Life Expectancy Chart).

This protracted operational life brings about substantial cost savings, diminished maintenance requirements, and a reduced environmental impact.

how long do tankless hot water heaters last

Within the domain of commercial water heating, the durability of equipment plays a pivotal role in ensuring sustained operational efficiency and financial viability.

Commercial tankless water heaters, known for their on-demand heating technology and energy-efficient design, have garnered increasing attention.

These cutting-edge systems not only meet the immediate hot water demands of commercial spaces but also boast an impressive lifespan that far exceeds traditional water heaters.

It is also crucial to explore the factors that contribute to their longevity. Delving into the mechanisms and maintenance practices that safeguard these systems can provide businesses with invaluable insights for fostering enduring reliability.

Understanding Commercial Tankless Water Heaters


1. On-Demand Heating Mechanism:

Commercial tankless water heaters operate on an innovative on-demand heating mechanism.

Unlike traditional water heaters that store and constantly heat a large volume of water, tankless systems only activate when hot water is needed.

This means that there's no standby heat loss, resulting in increased energy efficiency and cost savings.

2. Space Saving:

The on-demand heating eliminates the necessity for a storage tank and the standby losses associated with maintaining a reservoir of hot water.

These units contribute to space efficiency in commercial buildings through their compact design, freeing up valuable square footage.

Without a bulky storage tank, tankless water heaters offer versatility, allowing for wall-mounting, free-standing placement, or outdoor installation.

In addition to their space-saving benefits, these units boast easier installation compared to tank-style alternatives and can seamlessly utilize the same plumbing as natural gas water heaters.

3. Benefits for Commercial Spaces:

The advantages of tankless systems extend far beyond their on-demand nature. In commercial spaces, where hot water needs can vary widely, these systems offer continuous and uninterrupted hot water supply.

This is especially crucial during peak operational hours, ensuring a consistent flow for tasks such as kitchen operations, restroom facilities, and other essential business processes.

The reliability of these tankless systems translates into improved operational efficiency and enhanced user experiences for employees, customers, or tenants.

Comprehending these aspects of commercial tankless water heaters is integral for businesses seeking energy-efficient and responsive solutions that align with their diverse hot water requirements.

The next sections will further explore the factors that contribute to their extended lifespan and the practical considerations for businesses adopting these tankless water heating systems.

technician performing regular maintenance on tankless water heater

Factors Influencing Lifespan

1. Regular Maintenance Practices:

Regular maintenance is paramount for extending the lifespan of a commercial tankless water heater.

This involves tasks such as flushing the system to remove mineral deposits, inspecting and tightening connections, and checking for signs of wear.

2. Water Softening Solutions:

Hard water, rich in minerals, can lead to scaling and corrosion within the tankless system.

Water softeners work as protective measures, minimizing the impact of mineral deposits and preserving the efficiency of the equipment.

Installing such solutions is an investment in the long-term health of the system. Commercial and industrial businesses that can benefit from water softeners for the treatment of hard water systems include:

  • Health Clubs and Spas

  • Restaurants & Hospitality

  • Apartments & Condos

  • Factories, Office Buildings, & Shopping Centers

  • Car Washes

  • Laundries & Dry Cleaners

  • Hotels & Motels

  • Hospitals, Nursing Homes & Healthcare

3. Timely Repairs and Replacements:

Taking immediate action when issues are identified prevents further degradation and ensures that the tankless system functions optimally.

Timely replacement of worn components before complete failure is a proactive strategy that averts disruptions and enhances the overall longevity of the equipment.

4. Adherence to Manufacturer Guidelines:

Following these guidelines ensures that the tankless water heater functions within its designed parameters, minimizing stress on components and promoting a prolonged operational life.

5. Professional Inspections:

Periodic professional inspections by qualified technicians are valuable in identifying potential issues early on.

These inspections go beyond routine maintenance and involve a comprehensive assessment of the entire system. Professional insights help businesses make informed decisions on repairs, replacements, or upgrades.

tankless water heater installation parts

Installation Quality Matters

1. Professional Installation Expertise:

Professional installation is not just a convenience but a necessity. It guarantees that the tankless water heater is installed with precision, considering factors such as gas supply, electrical requirements, and compliance with safety standards.

This expertise minimizes the risk of errors that could impact efficiency and longevity.

Things to consider when searching for a company to install your tankless water heater:

  • Request cost estimates in writing

  • Ask for references

  • Check the company with your local Better Business Bureau

  • Does the company understand local building codes and will they obtain a local permit (if necessary)?

2. Sizing Accuracy for Demand:

An oversized unit may experience frequent cycling, impacting efficiency, while an undersized unit may struggle to meet demand, leading to excessive wear.

Proper sizing ensures optimal operation and extends the lifespan of the equipment.

3. Consideration of Venting Requirements:

Venting is not only about compliance but also about safety. Correct venting facilitates the expulsion of combustion byproducts, preventing potential hazards.

Commercial Water Usage Patterns

1. Understanding Variability in Demand:

Commercial spaces exhibit diverse and variable hot water demands throughout the day. Understanding this variability is crucial for sizing and configuring tankless water heaters.

Businesses must consider peak hours, simultaneous usage, and specific hot water needs in various areas, such as kitchens, restrooms, and utility areas.

2. Smart Sizing Strategies:

Smart sizing involves selecting a tankless water heater that aligns with the actual demand, avoiding the pitfalls of oversizing or under-sizing.

Enlist professionals who employ sizing strategies that account for factors such as flow rates, temperature rise requirements, and the number of fixtures to optimize system efficiency.

3. Adaptability to Fluctuations:

The adaptability of tankless systems is a key strength in the commercial landscape. They can efficiently handle sudden spikes in demand during busy periods and scale down during quieter times.

This flexibility not only meets immediate needs but also contributes to a prolonged operational life by preventing unnecessary stress on the system.

tankless water heater corrosive heating element

Signs of Aging or Malfunction

1. Reduced Hot Water Output:

A decrease in hot water output impacts operational efficiency and user satisfaction.

It can stem from various issues, such as scale accumulation affecting heat exchangers or a compromised heating element.

2. Fluctuating Water Temperatures:

Fluctuations in water temperatures during use indicate potential problems with the tankless water heater.

Causes may include issues with the flow sensor, malfunctioning thermostats, or mineral deposits affecting heat transfer.

3. Unusual Noises or Vibrations:

Unusual noises and vibrations such as banging or rattling are indicators of potential mechanical stress or malfunction. Ignoring these signs may lead to more extensive damage.

4. Visible Leaks or Corrosion:

The presence of visible leaks or signs of corrosion on the tankless water heater is a serious concern.

Leaks may result from damaged seals, corroded pipes, or other issues and compromise both the performance and structural integrity of the tankless system.

Addressing these issues swiftly is essential to prevent water damage to the surrounding area and to ensure the continued efficiency and reliability of the water heating system.

5. Persistent Error Codes:

Persistent error codes displayed on the unit's control panel indicate ongoing issues that require attention.

These codes may signify sensor malfunctions, ignition problems, or other technical issues.

Businesses should consult the manufacturer's manual or seek professional assistance to diagnose and resolve these errors.

light bulb with plant inside

Replacement Considerations

1. End-of-Life Indicators:

Recognizing end-of-life indicators is critical in determining when a commercial tankless water heater requires replacement.

These indicators may include persistent malfunctions, inefficiencies, or reaching the manufacturer's recommended lifespan.

Businesses should proactively monitor for these signs to make informed decisions on the most opportune time for replacement.

2. Technological Advancements:

Technology evolves, and newer models often come with advancements that contribute to improved efficiency and functionality.

When contemplating replacement, businesses should explore how the latest technologies can align with their operational needs, potentially providing additional benefits and reducing long-term operational costs.

3. Energy Efficiency Upgrades:

Upgrading to a more energy-efficient model is a key consideration. Newer tankless water heaters often boast higher energy efficiency ratings, translating to lower operational costs over time.

4. Capacity Adjustments:

Businesses experiencing changes in hot water demand should assess the capacity requirements of a replacement unit.

Adjusting the capacity to meet current and future needs ensures that the new tankless water heater is appropriately sized, optimizing efficiency and preventing potential issues related to oversizing or under-sizing.

5. Cost-Benefit Analysis:

A cost-benefit analysis is a systematic process used by businesses to evaluate the financial implications of a decision, in this case, the replacement of a commercial tankless water heater.

This analysis involves comparing the total costs associated with the replacement, including upfront expenses and ongoing operational costs, against the anticipated benefits, such as potential energy savings and increased efficiency.

By conducting a cost-benefit analysis, businesses can make informed decisions that align with their financial objectives.

It helps in determining whether the investment in a new tankless water heater is justified based on the potential returns and benefits over its projected lifespan.

It serves as a valuable tool for ensuring that replacement decisions are financially sound and contribute to long-term operational efficiency. Investopedia has a great article on cost-benefit analysis if you are interested in learning more about it.


The significance of water heaters in commercial spaces cannot be overstated. These systems are integral to daily operations, influencing everything from employee comfort to productivity.

Recognizing the signs of aging or malfunction, conducting regular maintenance, and addressing repairs in a timely manner are essential practices for ensuring the optimal performance and longevity of commercial tankless water heaters.

Businesses that prioritize the understanding of these concepts position themselves to benefit from efficient and reliable water heating systems, ultimately contributing to their long-term success.

If your business is located in the Columbus, Ohio area, contact ETS for all of your tankless water heater needs! Or stick around and check out some of our other blogs!

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