If you’ve had issues with your hot water heater in the past, you know what a hassle it can be. Once you’ve identified the problem and had a professional fix it, many believe it’s time to simply relax and enjoy hot showers once again. Unfortunately, most homeowners forget that water heaters, like any other electronic device, require routine maintenance.
Even if you have the best heater on the market, continuous pressure can cause its parts to wear down over time. Scheduling a few minutes of hot water heater maintenance can help extend your heater’s lifespan.
Read on to learn more on how to keep your water heater functional and durable.
- Inspect the Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve
As the water heats up in the tank, it’s converted into a gas that is more like pressure. The longer you continue using the water heater, the more pressure builds up and the hotter the tank gets. Intense pressure buildup in the tanks can lead to explosions, and this is something you want to avoid. To learn more about temperature and pressure valves, click here.
Most electric or gas heaters have a pressure relief valve on the side or top of the water heater. If you are comfortable doing this check yourself, start by shutting off the electricity or gas. Place a bucket under the temperature and relief valve and pull the trip lever. You should notice that some air and water will come out. If no water comes out, you may need to replace the valve.
- Perform a Random Visual Inspection
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that an average home wastes up to 10,000 gallons of water every year. What many don’t realize, is that an old water heater tank can also contribute to wastage through undetected leaks. Furthermore, leaks could also contribute to low water pressure and temperature fluctuations.
It’s recommended to check your tank at least twice a year for loose bolts or screws. Inspect the tank for signs of corrosion or rust. Don’t forget to check that the insulation is in place to avoid blocking the exhaust vent or the combustion air inlet.
While it’s easy to fix loose screws, you may need to call in a plumber if your tank has signs of corrosion.
- Drain the Water Heater Tank
Traditional water heaters tend to accumulate sediments that settle at the bottom over time. Unfortunately, failing to address this can lead to sediment accumulation, which can be challenging to remove. What’s more, the sediments affect your heater’s lifespan and overall efficiency.
Experts recommend flushing out your water heater every six months. Homeowners with extremely hard water may need to flush their heaters more often. Check your user’s manual for instructions on how to turn off your heater and flush out your system, or contact an expert to help.
- Insulate the Pipes and Heater
You can save hundreds of dollars on energy costs by insulating your water heater and pipes. Most home improvement stores have foil insulating blankets that you can cut to fit around the heater’s thermostat, pipes and valves.
Wrap the insulation blanket around the tank walls and seal it with foil tape. Avoid covering the top of gas heaters. With an electric model, you can place an oversized blanket on the sides of the tank.
- Check the Anode Rod
Water heaters have an anode rod that protects the tank from rust and leaks. The rod protects your heater from rust by attracting the corrosive elements in the water. That means the rod corrodes rather than the tank.
A worn-out anode rod can release corrosive minerals to the interior of the tank. It’s essential to make sure that the rod is still functional.
Start by switching off the water and power supply. Unscrew the rod and pull it out of the tank. Replace a worn-out rode if you notice that there are only bare support wires left.
Regular water heater maintenance can help prevent unforeseen problems and ensure that your water heater operates efficiently. While things like checking for leaks and loose screws are simple to do yourself, you may need to call in a qualified technician to check your pressure relief valve and anode rods. You can also ask your heating installation Eagle ID expert for any other maintenance steps you can perform on your own.