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5 Essential Water Heater Maintenance Tips

After you have a water heater installed, you may want to do whatever you can to prolong the life of the water heater. The more you prolong its life, the more money you will save overall and the fewer headaches you will suffer.

Fortunately, some maintenance tasks only have to be performed once and others only have to be performed annually. Here are some maintenance tips to help you prolong the life of your water heater.

Know the Type of Water Heater You Own

If you purchase a home with a water heater already installed, make sure that you know what type of water heater you have. You will at least want to know the age and gallon capacity. These will be needed by a plumber or water heater technician.

Locate the Water Heater

Always maintain a two foot clearance around the water heater by not placing anything too close. This will leave enough space to service the water heater, and it will also reduce the risk that something will collide with it. The clearance should be different depending on the instructions contained in the manual. A common mistake is keeping the water heater tucked away in a location that is difficult to reach.

Inspect the Pressure Relief Valve

Water heaters can explode if too much pressure builds up. Fortunately, water heaters come with a safety valve that releases pressure when too much pressure builds up. The pressure relief valve should be tested by shutting off the power and the cold water supply valve.

A bucket needs to be placed under the pressure release valve. Then, the valve tab can be lifted to release water. The water should stop flowing. If it continues to flow, the tank should be drained part of the way, and the old valve should be replaced with a new one.

Lower the Temperature

There are many reasons why you should consider lowering the water heater temperature:

  • The risk of scalding decreases
  • Energy costs are reduced
  • Increased heat causes water heaters to wear down faster
  • Children and the elderly are more likely to be scalded

It can be difficult to determine what temperature you should set your water heater at. If the temperature is too low, certain pathogens are more likely to survive, such as legionella. When set at 122 degrees, most legionella perish in 80 to 124 minutes.

To reduce the water heater temperature for a gas water heater, simply lower the dial. Lowering the temperature of the electric water heater is more complicated. Begin by killing power to the water heater. There is a small metal panel that covers the thermostat. Remove the access panel.

Sometimes, there is both an upper and lower thermostat. If this is the case, make sure to adjust the temperature to the same setting for each. The temperature may need to be adjusted using a flathead screwdriver. After the temperature has been adjusted, the thermostat cover should be replaced.

Flush Your Water Heater

Flushing your water heater annually is an easy way to reduce the sediment that collects in your water heater tank and can restrict the efficiency of the heater. Homes with hard water will experience a greater amount of buildup in the water heater especially calcium deposits.

To flush your water heater turn off the heater and gas supply or circuit breaker, if an electric heater. Connect a garden hose to the drainage spigot so the flush water can be run to a drain, nearby floor or shower drains work well.

Our plumbers suggest leaving the water supply to the heater on, this helps stir or break up the sediment in the tank. Before opening the drainage spigot turn on a nearby faucet to vent the system, helping flow of the water. Once these items have been done you can open the drainage spigot and begin flushing the tank. Remember the water will be hot, so take caution when opening the drain.

Drain the tank for roughly 5 minutes or until sediment stops coming out of the drainage hose.  When done draining, turn your drainage valve off, and turn your heater, gas or electrical back on.

Not sure you want to tackle flushing your water heater yourself? Give us a call Bryant’s experienced plumbers can help you with this task and help extend the life of your water heater.

If you have decided that it’s time to give up on your water heater and purchase a new one, contact us at Bryant Air Conditioning, Heating, Electrical & Plumbing. We offer water heater replacement services.