If your water heater has a conventional storage tank, it's important to perform regular maintenance to ensure that it operates efficiently and does not wear our prematurely. Most homeowners have a water heater installed and simply forget about it until it stops heating or working altogether and needs replacement. However, with a few simple maintenance steps you can increase the lifespan of the unit while also making it work more efficiently. Annual water heater maintenance will save you money in the long run, extending the like of the unit and ensuring that it operates at peak efficiency.
1. Flush the water heater tank annually
Almost all water heater manufacturers recommend flushing the tank annually. Draining the tank removes sediment build up that has collected at the bottom of the tank, allowing the burner to work more efficiently. If your home has hard water, it's especially important to drian the tank to remove mineral deposits like calcium and magnesium that will build up over time, reducing efficiency.
Before draining your water heater tank, check the manufacturer's instructions for the correct procedure for draining your model of water heater. If you're not sure what to do, play it safe and call ABC Southwest for help.
2. Check the anode rod
The anode rod hangs inside the tank to help prevent the interior walls of the tank from rusting out. It should be checked annually when the tank is drained. The anode rod is designed to corrode easily, reducing the amount of corrosion on other parts inside the tank. Replacing a badly corroded rod is far cheaper than replacing the water heater. Without a good anode rod, hot water will rapidly corrode the inside of the tank, shortening its life.
3. Insulate the water heater tank
This is a step you only have to do once. Wrapping your water heater in a blanket of insulation can improve it's efficiency up to 40 percent. Even though the tank may feel cool to the touch, after installing the blanket put hand under the blanket. You'll be suprised how warm it is! Before installing a water heater blanket be sure to check your manufacturer's instructions, some manufacturers advise not covering the unit. Also, be sure to cut openings out for all water heater controls, including the thermostat, pressure relief valve and other controls.
4. Inspect the exterior of the water heater for leaks
Look for signs of rust around the base of the water heater. Also check the overflow valve for signs of leaks. Are there water stains on the floor around the tank? If you notice signs of possible water leaks have the unit inspected by a plumber to ensure the tank is not rusted out or in need of maintenance. Note that some moisture around the tank is not unusual, and typically is the result of condensation on cold water pipes during humid weather.
Have questions about your hot water heater or other plumbing systems? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we're here to help.