Water Heater Maintenance 101
One of the most common causes of home flooding is a broken water heater. This can happen because of rust, sediment, and failing to maintain your water heater on a regular basis (at least every six months to a year). Here are preventative maintenance steps you can take to keep your hot water heater lasting longer and costing you less. If any of these steps are unfamiliar to you, hire a water restoration expert and request they show you how to do any of these so you can do it yourself in the future.
- The inside of your hot water heater has a thick protective barrier from rust. However, this is not 100% guaranteed water won’t find it’s way through to the steel that surrounds your hot water heater. The outside of is not protected like it is on the inside. Your first step is to inspect your water heater visually looking for rust, leaks, flaking, straining, or corrosion. These are signs you need to replace your water heater!
- Drain your tank. Calcium carbonate can clog valves, lines, recirculating pumps and even cause the growth of anaerobic bacteria. This natural sediment is precipitated from water through heat. In order to avoid this sediment from building up, you’ll need to regularly drain your water heater.
Here is how to drain and clean your tank:
- Shut off electricity running to your water heater.
- Attach a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank.
- Close the incoming cold water valve at the top of the tank.
- Open the pressure relief valve on the tank to break the vacuum.
- Open the drain valve on the tank and drain it.
- When finished, reverse the process, remembering not to turn on the gas or electricity until the tank has refilled
- Test the pressure relief valve to ensure it is working properly. This is a valve on the side of tank near the top. The valves should be open at least once per year to make sure they work and do not become clogged with calcium carbonate.Test it by lifting the handle slightly (be careful as some hot water will be released). If the valve does not release any water, or does not shut off after release, than it needs to be replaced.
- Install a carbon monoxide alarm near your water heater. If your water heater is not venting properly or is backed up, it could release carbon monoxide in to your home. Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless and can be harmful to you and your family.
- Check the temperature. Use a kitchen thermometer to ensure the temperature is set properly. Keeping the temperature between 115 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit will keep it warm enough to kill bacteria but not too hot to scald your skin.
- Change the anode rod. This is a little known but important maintenance tip to keep your water heater in good shape. The anode rod is a piece of magnesium or aluminum that is suspended in the tank and acts like a magnet to attract charged water molecules that would otherwise attack the outside of the steel tank, causing it to erode and expose the steel which, if exposed, will rust. Check it each year when you drain the tank and replace if the steel rods are showing. Rods typically last five to ten years without checking, but cleaning them prolongs their life.
Here is how to replace the anode rod:
- Shut off the incoming cold water valve at the top of the tank.
- Unscrew the nut on the top of the tank that suspends the anode rod.
- Clip on the new rod, insert into tank, and retighten the nut.
- Open cold water valve again.
- Finally, one of the easiest steps you can take to maintain your water heater is have it inspected annually by a technician like the water removal and water restoration guys at ARC Contracting.
Preventative maintenance on your water heater can prolong it’s life and save you the cost of water removal and dangerous flooding in your home.
See a leak or rust? Or even worse, has your home flooded? Call ARC Contracting to repair the water damage, or to assist you in inspecting your water heater.