Written by: Payless Water Heaters
The design of a hot water heater is relatively simple, using natural gas or electricity to heat stored water for usage around the home. From hot showers to washing dishes, this benign appliance requires maintenance to stay functional under daily use. A neglected hot water heater may flood the home when it fails, causing extreme damage to flooring or walls. Instead of hiring a water heater plumber to replace your tank every 10 years, make your tank last for several decades with key maintenance tips.
Hot water heaters typically use municipal tap water supplies to fill the tank. This water has minerals that leave sediment in the tank’s base over time. Rods inside the tank also decay slightly each year, leaving their sediment behind. This sediment builds up and causes the heater to work harder in order to heat the water. Your heater cannot survive this stress forever, so water heater repair is sometimes necessary for extreme cases.
Keep the sediment out of the tank by draining some of the water each month. A valve is often located at the base to make sediment removal easier. Simply place a bucket under the valve and release some water. You’ll see the sediment immediately, especially if the tank has never been serviced. The tank will automatically fill with more water once you tighten the valve.
Draining the Heater
Each year, it is critical to completely drain your hot water heater. Although you may remove sediment faithfully each month, a complete drain washes away any stubborn sediment stuck in the tank. Turn off the heating mechanism and cold water supply, and then add a garden hose to your open drain valve. The garden hose should drain out to the street to avoid flooding your yard. Allow the water to drain away from the tank. Tighten the valve afterward and reactivate the system. The tank will fill normally with most sediment removed from the base.
Check Your Pressure
If you need to hire a professional to fix the water heater, ask them to verify the incoming water pressure. Pressures higher than 80 PSI, or pounds per square inch, may cause accelerated damage to the tank. You, or a plumbing professional, can install a pressure regulator on the tank to preserve its lifespan.
Replacing the Rods
The tank has one or two rods inside of it called sacrificial anodes. These attract corrosion reactions to prevent damage to the tank itself. Over time, the rods decay from this corrosion. If you have a high ceiling above the tank, it is possible to pull the anodes from the heater to replace them. Those with a low ceiling will require help from a professional, where removal of the tank is often required.
Consistent maintenance on your water heater allows it to last for more than a decade. Ask your plumbing professional about any special instructions for your model. You’ll save considerable money over time with sediment and water removal practices.