Water Heater Maintenance Tips
Water heaters are made to be reliable. After all, we depend on them every day for cleaning and comfortable bathing. Though they’re generally dependable, water heaters do benefit from some regular care. Proper water heater maintenance not only keeps the hot water flowing, it also saves you money by conserving energy and extending the life of your water heater. Here’s how to help your water heater work longer and more effectively:
Flush out sediment every six months. Turn off the power to an electric heater, or turn a gas heater’s thermostat to the lowest setting. Close the water input, open the temperature-pressure relief valve and drain a gallon or two of water from the tank into a bucket or out through a garden hose. This flushes out any sediment that has accumulated in the bottom of the tank. Built up sediment shortens the life of your heater, so regular draining is an important part of water heater maintenance.
Check the temperature-pressure relief valve every six months. If you flush out the sediment on schedule, you’ve already done this. The temperature-pressure relief is your water heater’s safety valve. It opens automatically if the temperature or pressure in the tank gets too high. Without it, or if it isn’t functioning correctly, your water heater can explode! Checking this valve is not only an important part of water heater maintenance, it’s also an important safety check for your home.
Call a plumber once a year. An annual check by a certified plumbing technician will go a long way in water heater maintenance. A professional can perform a thorough inspection, including checking for carbon monoxide problems, and keep your water heater in optimal condition.
On gas water heaters, inspect the vent once a year. Make sure all connections are secure, unobstructed and free of rust and corrosion.
Check the sacrificial anode rod every few years. Water heater storage tanks contain anode rods made out of magnesium or aluminum, designed to attract electrical currents created by the minerals in the water. The rods corrode and dissolve, “sacrificing” themselves to protect the tank walls and fittings from damage. If six inches or more of the rod’s steel core wire is exposed, or if it’s covered with calcium carbonate deposits, it should be replaced.
Check the thermostat. The best temperature setting depends on your household. If you have small children, experts recommend setting home water heaters at 120° to protect them from scalding. If your dishwasher doesn’t have a booster heater, you may need to set the temperature between 130° and 140° for optimal cleaning. Turning up the thermostat, however, not only uses more energy, it also shortens the life of your water heater by speeding up corrosion and mineral build up. For water heater maintenance, set the temperature to the lowest setting that’s practical for your household’s needs.
Add insulation. Put an insulation blanket around the water heater and insulate the pipes leading away from it, as well. Both help to reduce “stand by heat loss,” and save energy and money.
These few practical steps can prevent problems and keep your water heater performing properly. You’ll save money and energy, as well as avoiding messy leaks and inconvenient repairs. Regular water heater maintenance is important for your family’s comfort. It keeps you in hot water!