Your water heater works hard for your family every day, so don’t neglect to do your part and provide regular maintenance. Implementing our easy 5 step water heater maintenance checklist will go a long way in prolonging the life of your water heater and preventing problems that arise due to neglect.
Follow these simple tips to regularly maintain and protect your water heater.
But don’t forget: your water heater is full of extremely hot water and steam, and thus wearing gloves, eye protection, and other safety gear is extremely important. We highly recommend keeping in contact with a licensed water heater maintenance company or contractor.
Check the Pressure Valve
Your water heater (whether gas or electric) is equipped with a safety feature called the temperature pressure relief valve, sometimes called the TPR valve or the T&P valve. This valve will open if too much pressure or heat builds up, preventing damage to the unit or dangerous explosions.
A malfunctioning valve is generally caused by a buildup of residue or sediment which can block the valve’s opening. Check the valve several times a year for optimal performance. This task is easy: first turn off the gas or electricity on your unit and then open and close the valve a few times. Monitor the water flow from the drainpipe because a properly functioning valve will release water when open.
If no water is released, it’s time to purchase a new TPR valve. Water heater maintenance costs are much cheaper than having to purchase an entirely new unit – Make sure to keep up with your maintenance to save money in the long run!
Hot Water Heater Maintenance Flush
Over time, sediment will build up in your water heater’s tank, especially if you have hard water. A lot of damage can occur when these particles are left to sit in the bottom of the tank, as thick layers of sediment make your unit work extra hard to heat the water in the tank. The sediment will also corrode the tank walls over time, eventually causing leaks.
Doing a hot water heater maintenance flush once a year can keep your hot water heater’s tank sediment free. Just flush the sediment out by draining the water from the tank.
Start by shutting off the gas or electricity, a vitally important step for safety reasons. Attach a garden hose to the drain valve (located at the bottom of the tank). The sediment will drain through this hose, so direct it outside, into a floor drain, or into a bathtub. Be careful- the water will be hot! Use a colander to catch the sediment and prevent clogs.
Next, turn off the cold water supply to the tank and run one of the hot water faucets in your house. Open the drain valve and let the tank empty itself. The water that first emerges will most likely be gooey and discolored, but will slowly become clear as the sediment leaves.
If the sediment starts to clog the valve at any time, turn on the cold water in short spurts to blast the gunk away. Once the hot water has drained completely, close the drain valve, partially fill the tank with cold water, and drain it once more.
Repeat this process until the water is completely clear. At that point you can close the drain valve, remove the hose, and turn on the cold water supply. The tank will start to fill, and when water starts coming out of your hot water faucets you can be sure the job is done. Turn on the gas or electricity, and rest easy knowing your water tank is free from sediment.
Water Heater Maintenance: Anode Rod
Water heater tanks are equipped with a metal rod that attracts minerals like calcium. These minerals become the sediment that can corrode the lining of the water tank, so the rod protects the unit by attracting certain minerals and preventing them from depositing on the tank.
Once this rod wears out, so does your water heater preventative maintenance. Those minerals can cause your tank to rust and leak. Inspect the anode rod yearly and replace it every 3-5 years to extend the life of your water heater.
Always turn off the gas or electricity on the unit before attempting to inspect the rod. Draining a few gallons of water can help you check for rust within the tank as well. Loosen the hex nut on the top of your tank and the rod will be directly attached to it.
If large portions of the core wire are visible, or if there is a thick layer of deposit on the rod, it is time to replace it. Luckily a new anode rod can be purchased easily at any hardware story at an affordable rate.
Following a few simple steps will extend the life of your water heater, prevent any dangerous accidents, and keep hot water consistently flowing in your home.
As always, be sure to call in a professional water heater maintenance company if you feel overwhelmed or suspect damage has occurred within your unit.
Get Familiar With Your Water Heater Maintenance Schedule
Your water heater loves consistency. Following a routine water heater maintenance schedule will keep your unit working at its best for around 15-years, maybe more!
Your typical water heater maintenance schedule is as follows:
- Test the temperature relief valve at least once per year.
- Flush your water heater every 4 months.
- Clean your water heater tank once per year.
- Replace your anode rod every 2-5 years.
- For gas water heaters: check the burner every year.
For a more comprehensive water heater maintenance schedule, please refer to your water heater manufacturer’s website and look up the model number of your water heating unit.
Maintain a Relationship With Your Local Water Heater Maintenance Company
Sometimes, water heater maintenance is not a DIY project. If you are struggling to troubleshoot a major issue with your heating unit, or if you do not feel comfortable carrying out the tasks on our water heater maintenance checklist, please call your local water heater maintenance company.
Make sure to do your research and learn all about your local water heater contractor before hiring them. Keeping a contractor that you know and trust in your contact list can be a life saver, especially in a 24 hour emergency situation! Safety always comes first when it comes to maintaining any household appliance, especially your water heater.