Whether you own a gas or an electric water heater, maintaining your water heater should be one of your priorities. Water heaters are known for being very reliable appliances that can last for years and even decades without needing any major repair. However, just because a water heater is durable doesn’t mean you can let it fend for itself. The maintenance tips below are not only affordable but they also take up very minimal time. In return, you get a water heater that stays in tip-top shape for many years to come.
1. Check your heater’s temperature setting.
One of the best things you can do to maintain your water heater is to make sure it doesn’t overheat. You can do this by regularly checking your heater’s temperature. For gas-powered water heaters, the temperature control is usually in the form of a knob. An electric water heater will usually have a thermostat. Using this setting, adjust the temperature so that it is between 115 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything higher can lead to overheating and will consume more energy.
2. Ensure that the T&P valve is working properly.
One of the best water heater maintenance tips that you can follow is to regularly check if your T&P valve is functioning. The Temperature & Pressure valve is designed to regulate the pressure inside the water tank. When pressure or temperature gets too high, the T&P valve releases water. To ensure that this valve is working, turn off the power as well as the cold water supply of your water heater. The T&P valve is located along the side of your water heater and automatically opens when it detects too much pressure in the tank. Lift the valve’s tab to let some water out and then let go of the tab so that it snaps back to its original position. If water keeps flowing despite the valve being shut off, then this is a bad sign. Another red flag that you should watch out for is if the valve does nothing when you open and close the valve. In either cases, you may need to replace your T&P valve to prevent future water leaks.
3. Perform a maintenance flush.
A full water heater flush is also an important part of maintaining your water heater. Over time, water can leave behind sediments and other buildup that can gradually damage the interior of the water heater tank.
To do a full flush, you will need to turn off the power supply of the water heater, whether it’s gas or electric. Next, you will need a bucket, a water hose and a pair of gloves to protect your hands from possible contact with hot water. Attach the water hose to your heater’s water drain and turn it on. This will release the water from the tank. Once the water slows down, open the T&P valve as well. You will notice that some of the sediments and dirt will be coming out with the water.
Lastly, turn off the water drain and de-attach the hose from its mouth. Get your bucket and place it right below the water drain. Turn on the water supply to the water tank and turn on the water drain as well. Make sure that your T&P valve is still open as the water flows out. This final step will flush out the remaining buildup inside the tank. The water coming out should be crystal clear after a few gallons.
A full maintenance flush can be done once a year.
4. Check the sacrificial anode rod.
A sacrificial anode rod prevents corrosion inside the water heater’s tank. Usually made of aluminum or magnesium, the anode rod has more reactive properties than the steel that the tank is made of. As a result, it “sacrifices” itself so that the tank remains corrosion-free. It’s important to regularly check your heater’s anode rod to ensure that it still manages to do its job; if the rod is less than half an inch in diameter or if it is coated in calcium, then you will need to replace it immediately. Between aluminum and magnesium, the magnesium does a better job and has a longer life.