Your water heater plays a pivotal role in both residential and commercial settings, so prolonging its lifespan with proper maintenance can prevent expensive repairs while cutting energy costs and saving money on energy bills.
Simple tasks, like draining the tank, testing safety valves and insulating your unit can significantly prolong its lifespan and keep your hot water flowing without incurring extra costs. Take these simple maintenance steps now to extend its lifespan and enjoy lower costs!
1. Drain the Tank
Being an adult is great fun (nearly as exciting as playing Spiderman!), but with it comes some not-so-pleasurable tasks, like paying bills and maintaining your home – not forgetting draining your tank to reduce sediment buildup that shortens its lifespan and increases energy costs.
Turn off both gas and electricity to your water heater, as well as turning off or closing down its hot water tap in your house (if applicable). Connect a garden hose to the drain valve of your heater, directing it outside or to an appropriate drainage location.
Open the drain valve, slowly allow water to drain out until either your hose is empty or the sediment appears clean, then close and reconnect your hose, before switching on your water heater again.
2. Check the Anode Rod
Anode rods are composed of aluminum, magnesium or zinc and feature a wire running through their center for maximum corrosion protection in water heater tanks. Their purpose is to corrode preferentially over time while protecting from any internal rusting that might occur within them.
Replace your anode rod when only its support wire remains; doing so could save on replacement costs for your water heater.
To change out an anode rod on a water heater, switch both power and gas off, use a wrench to loosen its hex head, pull out, and replace with a new rod suitable for your water type (magnesium and aluminum are good options in most regions), wrapping the new one in Teflon tape to avoid leaks.
3. Check the Temperature and Pressure Valve
Check your Temperature and Pressure Valve (T&P) regularly to make sure it’s functioning as intended. This safety feature releases hot water or steam if too much pressure builds in your tank, helping prevent damages or explosions from occurring. Typically located on either the side or top of the tank with a discharge pipe leading directly into a drain ideally aimed downward towards the floor, it acts as an effective safeguard.
Your T&P valve can be tested easily by placing a bucket under its discharge pipe and lifting its lever; if water enters it, that indicates its functionality. Also make sure it’s protected with a tamperproof valve to avoid someone plugging it and causing an accident. If testing your own T&P valve is uncomfortable for you, hiring professional inspectors to conduct annual checks for you might be better – they’ll flush your tank, inspect its anode rod, and more!
4. Insulate the Tank
Insulating your water heater in cold climates is one way to make it run more efficiently, saving money on energy costs while prolonging its lifespan. This could save money when purchasing replacement tank and pipe systems as well.
Insulation blankets can either be bought premade or built from scratch. When selecting one for use with water heaters, make sure the blanket does not cover ventilation openings or interfere with safety features of your unit.
First, turn off both the water supply valve located atop your tank and its associated fuel source (gas). Next, open the drain valve on the tank and allow five to ten gallons of water out via drainage or bucket.
5. Clean the Heater
An effective water heater is the foundation for comfortable showers, clean laundry loads and delicious, hot meals. Furthermore, its operation reduces your energy bills while helping prevent serious issues like leaks or damage to the tank itself.
Start by going into your circuit breaker box and finding the switch serving your electric water heater, and switching it off. Slide the switch until its “off” position appears.
Use a vacuum cleaner with a crevice attachment to clear away dry sediment from around your tank’s exterior and inspect for leaks from connections coming into or leaving from it; any unattended leakage could result in irreparable damage if left unrepaired.