Maintaining Your Hot Water Heater

Extend the life of your hot water heater

Did you know that your hot water heater requires regular maintenance? The average manufacturer’s service life is 8-12 years. Typically an electric model has a lower service life than a gas model. Performing proper maintenance can help maximize the years of service.

Reference your hot water heaters manual

When working around electric and gas appliances always refer to the units manual for safe practices. If you don’t have one, go to the manufacturer’s website. Always secure the gas valve if applicable and secure the breaker to the unit. A hot water heater should never be powered on without water.

Every 6 months

At least every 6 months the tank should be drained of sediment. After time sediment deposits will enter and sink to the bottom of the tank. Large amounts of sediment can be heard as the hot water is pushed through the deposits. Depending on your specific water you may need to perform this more or less often.

  • Secure the gas valve if applicable and secure the breaker to the hot water heater.
  • Turn off the valve to the cold water line.
  • Connect a garden hose to the drain and run outside. Please note these drains may not seal properly after draining and will require replacement.
  • Open a hot water valve near the unit.
  • Be careful as the water will be hot and open the drain valve.
  • Leave the valve open until the water runs clear.
  • Close the drain and ensure it seals. Open the cold water valve back on.
  • When water flows through the open faucet, the tank is full.
  • Turn the power and gas on to the unit.

Annually

Annually test the temperature/pressure relief valve near the top of the tank. The purpose of this valve is to engage at a predetermined setting in order to prevent failure and harm. Before performing this operation ensure an appropriate extension tube is attached to the valve. The tube should be copper or cpvc and terminate 6 inches from the floor. Never cap off this tube.

  • Place a bucket under the extension tube.
  • Be careful as the water will be hot. Lift the valve to activate and hold for a few seconds.
  • If no water or air is expelled, or the valve doesn’t reset, the TPR Valve may need to be replaced. 

Every 3-5 years

Hot water heater tanks are made of metal. Since water sources have corrosive characteristics; something must be in place to prevent that tank from corroding. The sacrificial anode rod is used to corrode away before your tank. Once this rod is gone the water will seek what it needs from your tanks metal shell. This is when most units will corrode and begin to leak.

  • Secure the gas and power to the unit.
  • Drain some water out of the tank.
  • Find the anode nut at the top of the tank.
  • Loosen the nut and remove the rod from the tank.
  • If the rod is missing much of the material, replace the rod (Can be found at most hardware stores and are typically universal).
  • Match the old rod length and seal threads. Install and tighten new rod.
  • Turn water on and refill tank. Once full, turn power and gas back on.

*This can be done will other maintenance is performed.

**This is only a guide. Anything above your comfort level should always be performed by a qualified plumber.

By | 2018-07-07T16:06:08+00:00 July 7th, 2018|Home Inspection Article|Comments Off on Maintaining Your Hot Water Heater

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