Unlike an air conditioner or furnace, you use your home water heater all year round. That's why it's vital to keep it running smoothly month after month. The best way to do this is by performing regular maintenance on your water heater. Use the following checklist to make that task a little easier this fall.
As such, a once- or twice-a-year visual checks of your tank should be part of your water heater maintenance. Check for loose screws, nuts, and bolts, as well as aged gaskets, as these can allow water to come out. Look for any signs of rust, corrosion, or pooled water under the tank too. Securing plumbing fasteners, like screws and bolts, is one of the plumbing tasks you can do on your own. If your tank has too many corroded parts, however, it's best to call a water heater repair technician.
Water that contains calcium carbonate (CaCO3) at a concentration of over 180 mg/l is already "very hard." While hard water rarely causes health effects, heating it up leads to the formation of scale. This can then reduce the efficiency of your heater, cut its life short, and make your heating costs go up.
If you haven't yet, consider having a whole-home water softener and filter installed. Softeners will help reduce sediment build-up, while filters will help minimize contaminants.
Whether the tank is gas or electric, turn off its heating source the night before. If that is too inconvenient, do it at least 30 minutes prior to working on the water heater.
Before you begin, inspect all of the valves. Don't miss the temperature and pressure valves. Lift the lever slightly, and you should hear the sound of water running into the drain tube.
Use a solution of dish soap and warm water. Apply it generously to all joints and pipes while watching for bubbles to appear.
Close the incoming-water valve, connect a hose to the drain valve and run the water out. Don't forget to open a hot water faucet inside the house to allow air in.
Once all of the water is out, locate the clean-hole and use a flashlight to look inside. Look for soot, rust or sediment. If you do, use hot water to clean the tank or contact Valley Heating so they can advise you on properly cleaning the glass lining without damaging it.
Close all the valves and turn the incoming water back on. Allow the tank to refill and then repeat Step 2 above to ensure your system is working properly.
A small decrease in the highest temperature will decrease your energy use and prolong the life of your water heater.
All gas and some electric water heaters have a temperature and pressure relief valve. A T&P valve is a safety device designed to open and release excess temperature and pressure inside the tank. If the temp and pressure exceed the benchmark (usually 210° F/150 psi), the valve should open right away. Otherwise, the tank's temperature and excessively high pressure can make it go boom
An anode rod is a "sacrificial" device that prevents the inside of the water heater from corroding. It's a steel tube made of either aluminum, magnesium, or zinc. The rod goes on top of the water heater and attracts elements in the water that causes oxidation. Without the anode rod, the lining of your water heater tank will corrode faster. That's why this tube is also known as the "sacrificial anode rod." The metal in it rusts faster than the tank's lining, so oxidizing elements get attracted to it first.
Insulate older units with a fiberglass jacket to improve efficiency, being careful to avoid contact with the flue (newer units already are insulated -- check your owner’s manual to make sure). Also, insulate the hot and cold water pipes.
Check the heating element for scale. Scale is an accumulation of minerals, mainly calcium and magnesium, and they look like white particles or pieces of paper. If you do see them, simply use a ball of green wool or a piece of cloth to remove them.
Replace flange gaskets if needed. As insignificant as they may be, a flange gasket holds great responsibilities. A flange gasket is used to join two sections of the pipe. We suggest replacing the flange gaskets during each servicing or maintenance.
One last check. Ensure there isn’t any water leakage and the power light is on. Once you have the above nine steps checked, your heater is in good shape!