Your water heater is one of the most important and valuable appliances you have, so taking care of it is an important part of homeownership. However, few people pay much attention to their water heater, and that can lead to it falling apart faster than it should. Replacing a water heater is a big deal, but it shouldn’t have to be something you do all that often.
If you want to extend your water heater’s lifespan and even make it more energy-efficient so it doesn’t cost as much to run, check out these four easy water heater maintenance tips that you can do yourself!
Flush Your Tank
Completely flushing the water out of your water heater tank does more than just drain water—it also drains out sediment that accumulates in the bottom of your tank over time. Unless you have a whole-home water filtration system, your water more than likely contains minerals like calcium and magnesium that collect into small pebbles and other dirt-like sediment at the bottom of your water heater tank. Enough of this sediment can block heat infusion. It can also reduce your tank’s capacity and even contribute to increased wear and tear on the bottom of your tank. Sediment also kicks up into your water, resulting in reduced-quality hot water that further wears on your hot water plumbing lines.
Flushing your tank is simple: just shut off your water heater at the breaker, shut off the water feed line from your tank, then connect a hose to the drain valve typically located on the side. Once the hose is pointed somewhere safe (such as to a storm drain), open the valve and let the water fully drain out. The draining process should also remove a good chunk of the dirt and sediment, leaving your tank cleaner. Once the drain is complete, close the valve, remove the hose, and turn the water and power connections back on. After approximately 30 to 45 minutes, your tank should be refilled, reheated, and ready to go again.
Test Your Pressure Valves
Every water heater has at least one pressure release valve located near the top of the tank. These valves play an important part in heater safety—as air and water heat and expand, they increase the pressure on the side of your tank. On rare occasions, this pressure can become so great that it causes your water heater to explode. A pressure release valve prevents this by opening when the pressure inside your tank exceeds a certain level, thus deflating the tank and preventing the explosion.
However, pressure release valves that are not regularly opened and exercised could seize up, and a seized valve won’t open when necessary. To prevent this, we recommend opening and closing your pressure release valves several times while your water heater tank is drained. This should loosen the valve and allow it to work properly if needed.
Replace Your Anode Rod
Water heaters typically include a component known as an anode rod—a metal rod that sticks down into your water heater tank. When an electrical current is run through this rod, water naturally corrodes the rod instead of the walls of your water heater tank, allowing it to function longer and with fewer issues. As a consumable part, anode rods typically last around three years before they need to be replaced, so draining your tank might be an ideal time to make this replacement if you haven’t done so in a while. Anode rods for your particular model of heater can typically be purchased online, at a plumbing supply, or even at a home improvement warehouse in some cases. Replacing your anode rod can extend the lifespan of your water heater significantly, even up to several additional years.
Check for Leaks
Finally, once your tank is refilled, do a quick visual inspection for any signs of a leak or unexplained water. Check your drip pan first and foremost for any water puddles that might appear. Also look near your hose valves, emergency pressure release valves, and water entrances and exits for signs of water seeping out. Finally, also look at the exterior shell of your water heater tank. If you see any unexplained water, don’t hesitate to call a plumber right away—if your water heater is leaking, you should consider replacing it right away as leaking tanks not only waste water but risk damaging your home. Leaks tend to grow quickly, and they can even get out of hand before you realize it.If you need assistance with a water heater issue, Winters® Home Services is here to help! Call us at (617) 977-3101 to schedule an appointment today.