Water Heater Maintenance Tips Your Plumber Will Never Tell You.

Maintenance & Repairs

Did you know that there is such thing as hot water heater maintenance? 

Water heaters work for years with very little maintenance; however, they do require some regular checks and maintenance. Just a few simple steps every few months can save you from waking up, jumping in the shower and unwillingly doing the ice bucket challenge. Even worse than that, a ruptured water heater that leaks all of its water in the middle of the night and you waking up to a drenched drywall and carpet.

So what type of maintenance does a water heater require and why? 

Here we’ll go over easy water heater maintenance tasks that you should be adding to your home maintenance routine in order to keep that water toasty all year round!

Types Of Water Heaters 

There are many types of water heaters but the most common are gas and electric water heaters.

So, how do you know which type you have?

Simple, walk over to your water heater and take a look. Do you see a gas control valve? Do you see a wide flue at the top going into the ceiling? If you see this, then you most likely have a gas water heater.

Or do you see thermostat panels and electric supply going into the top of the tank? If you do then you most likely an electric water heater.

Below are some pictures for comparison.

 

Electric Water Heater

Gas Water Heater

How Long do Water Heaters Last?

This is a tricky question because it depends.

It depends on how much the water heater gets used, how often it is serviced, the quality of the unit from the start and even the water quality at your home.

That said, common, full-tank water heaters last an average of 8 to 12 years. And with a proper maintenance schedule, they can last even longer than that.

These are a few maintenance tips to keep your water heater running smooth and potentially extend its lifespan.

Water Heater Maintenance Tips 

1. Temperature Control.

First things first, your water heater has a temperature control. It is a good idea to check this and make sure you have the desired temperature selected.

Did you know that if your setting is selected for 150 degrees that it would take one and a half seconds to cause a serious burn? Have kids? Make sure you check this as it’s important for your family’s safety.

The recommended temperature is 120 degrees or less for safety.

2. Check For Leaks.

You will need to routinely check for leaks. If you see water built up in the water pan or an active drip, this can mean trouble is coming.

You will need to make sure the water is not coming from somewhere else, but if it is your water heater, at this point it is recommended you call a plumber or contractor to have your water heater checked.

Unfortunately, this most likely means you will need water heater.

I’m sure this is not the news you wanted to hear, but calling in advance and replacing your unit is better and cheaper than water damage in the future.  

3. Check the Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve.

The valve has a small lever and is usually located at the top or side of the unit. You will need to check if its leaking – a leak means it needs to be replaced.

This valve releases pressure if the tanks overheats. If it’s defective, it may not release the pressure and this could be dangerous.

Be careful, if the water heater is old, checking it could mean the valve may not close again and it may need to be replaced. Make sure you check the valve when you can get a quick replacement if it does break.

4. How To Drain A Water Heater.

Water heater manufacturers recommend draining water from the valve at the base of the water heater about every six months.

The reason for draining your water heater is that water sediment can build up at the bottom causing it to not heat up your water as intended or even cause cracks.

That said, if you have had your water heater for 5 years or longer, it is recommended that you don’t do this.

At that point removing the sediment can actually expose existing cracks inside of the water heater and cause them to expand and leak.

To do this:

1) First turn off the power or gas to the unit, as well as the the cold water supply to stop it from flowing in as you drain it.

2) Connect a garden hose to the faucet or drain valve at the bottom of the tank. Direct the hose to a water drain or if your water heater is in the garage, direct it outside to a grassy area.

3) Open the spout and the water will start to drain. At first, if there is sediment, you will see the water come out dirty. Let the water drain until the water comes out clear. CAUTION: The water is very hot. Make sure it will not come in contact with you or anyone else. Once clear, close the spout and unplug the hose.

4) Don’t forget to turn the power back on or if a gas heater, to relight the pilot and turn it on. Note that if you have an electric heater, the breaker to the unit may need to be flipped back to the on position.

5. Professional Water Heater Maintenance.

Lastly, if you have a gas water heater, have a contractor check and clean the burner. If any rust is found on the burner, the water heater could start producing carbon monoxide. THIS IS NOT A GOOD THING!

Calling a professional is a task that usually gets pushed to the side and saved for another day, but contracting the help of a professional will ensure the water heater is running as it should.

Lastly, we have gone over five very important water heater maintenance tips that can make your water heater last longer and save you money in the long run. As with any other equipment in your home, it is very important not to neglect them and to do the required maintenance to avoid any possible issues. 

Leave us a comment if these tips helped you. we’d love to hear from you!

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