Water Heater Maintenance

Your Guide to Water Heater Maintenance and Repair

Are you looking for ways to extend the life of the water heating system in your home or office?

Water heater maintenance can help you keep your system running efficiently for a longer period.

The average life of a gas water heater is 8 to 12 years, while an electric heater may last 10 to 15 years. Like other systems in your office, these averages vary based on how often they are used and whether they are maintained or not. By learning about and keeping up with the maintenance necessary for your water heater, you can extend its life.

Read on to learn more about how to take care of your system and when to get the help of a professional with this guide to water heater maintenance and repair.

Flush Your Tank

One of the most effective ways to maintain your water heater is to flush its tank at least once or twice a year. A professional plumber comes and drains all the water out of your water heater, thus flushing out any sediment that might have begun to accumulate in the bottom of your water tank. You might be wondering where that sediment came from, and the answer is the water that flows through it. Depending on how hard your water is, the more minerals that will flow through your water heater. Eventually, those minerals end up settling at the bottom. While a small amount is not harmful, years of use without regularly flushing it out can lead to buildup that could put your tank at risk of bursting. To determine how many times you should flush your water heater during the year, you need to know how hard the water is in your area.

If your water is extremely hard, then you will likely need to have it flushed twice a year. By taking the time to flush it out, you avoid damage to your water heater’s heating element and excessive pressure from the hot water on your tank. Additionally, as the sediment builds up, it can reduce the amount of hot water available for your household. Plus, your water heater will start getting noisier, as the sediment will contribute to knocking or popping noises. This noise happens because the overheated water and steam tend to move the sediment around the bottom of the tank. Sediment can also end up creating an insulating layer between the water and the heating element, which can make your heating element work harder and need to be replaced sooner.

Scheduling routine maintenance ensures damage from occurring prematurely.

The tank heats the water before distributing it to your showers and other faucets. Besides storing gallons of water, your system’s tank is also a place for deposits and other sediments to collect.

Before flushing the tank, disconnect the tank from its power source and the water supply. Hook a hose up to the drain valve and place the other end leading to an area where you can safely send hot water.

Open the pressure and drain valves to begin the flow of water out of your tank. Once the tank is empty, hook up the water to your heating system again. Turn on the hot water faucet and wait until water begins to come out. After the water begins to drain from your faucet, then turn on the water heater again.

A professional will also make sure that the tank has been flushed completely and can also inspect the rest of the heater for any potential damage or wear and tear. The result is that you are less likely to have your water heater start to leak or burst.

Inspect Pressure Valve

Your system’s pressure valve is an important part of water heater maintenance. It provides a safety measure, allowing your water heater to vent pressure if the temperature or pressure inside the tank gets to a dangerous level. This safety measure is key to avoiding a potential explosion due to excessive pressure. Testing these safety features is key to making sure that they are able to do their job if a dangerous situation arises.

When inspecting this valve, it is essential to look for signs of corrosion, stress, or even leakage around the valve and any joints. If there are signs of damage or stress, then the valve or joints should be replaced right away.

This valve is a relatively easy to inspect, but it can also be dangerous due to handling extremely hot water. The process requires that you be very careful as you inspect your system, ideally hiring a professional to safely do the inspection.

Start by turning off the electricity to your system. (If you have a gas system, turn off the gas, as this will extinguish the system’s pilot light.) Then turn off the cold water inlet that leads to your system.

Put a large bucket underneath the pressure relief valve. This bucket lets you collect the water as it leaves your system. Release the trip valve and allow it to fill with one to two cups of water.

You should listen for a rush of air coming out of your system along with some water and vapor. If you do not hare or see this, you should have your pressure valve replaced.

Replace Anode Rods

Anode rods are the pieces of your water heater that help limit corrosion inside of your tank. The reality is that plumbing involves water and metal being combined, which can cause galvanic corrosion. This option prevents potential corrosion from damaging your tank. An anode rod will corrode first and thus prevent your tank from rusting and springing leaks

When your system’s tank is empty (and power has been cut off to the system), it needs replacing. A plumber can easily handle this type of job. By having these regularly replaced, you can maintain the health of your water heater. Your water heater should have come with instructions that show you where you can check your anode. If a good chunk of cable is visible, then it is time to replace it. If you wait too long, a part of the rod can fall to the bottom and start bouncing around, thus causing damage to the inside of your tank and the heating element. Also, if you are replacing the anode rods, then it would be a good time to flush your water heater, thus doing two forms of maintenance at the same time.

Keeping corroded anodes in your system can speed up your tank’s corrosion and can be dangerous to you and others if it causes your system to come apart while being used.

Wrapping Up

A water heater is an important component of your home or office and one you should maintain on a regular basis. By doing so, you can reduce the risk of your water heater springing a leak or bursting.

At Proactive Plumbing, we’re experienced in hot water systems, drainage, service repairs, and more.

Contact us today to learn more about our services and to schedule a free estimate.

Proactive Plumbing has provided dependable plumbing services, installations and repair for more than 15 years. We service Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Vista, San Marcos, Escondido and other areas of San Diego County.