Water heater failures are one of the top five sources of residential water losses. The majority of all water heater failures result from a slow leak or sudden burst. Proper water heater maintenance, including inspecting the water heater’s anode rod and flushing sediment from the tank, can delay the need to replace a water heater. How can you keep your hot water heater in hot water? Here’s all you need to know about maintaining your water heater!

The importance of water heater maintenance

1. Extends life!

Annually flushing the water heater ensures that any sediment and mineral build-up is found quickly and kept to a minimum. Water heater failures that involve leaking or bursiting are usually the result of a deteriorated tank, and staying on top of this water heater maintenance can add years to its life.

2. Saves you money

Water heaters flushed at least once a year or every six months will result in quicker hot water through the pipes. A clean water heater cost less money because it reduces a home’s energy use.

3. Increases efficiency

Calcium build-up can be a major contributor to making the tank less efficient. Loose minerals settle on the bottom of a water heater making it more difficult for the water heater to produce hot water.

In an electric water heater, these minerals can cause the lower heating element to fail. In a gas water heater, these minerals can create hot spots that cause tank damage and failure. Flushing and maintaining a water heater will result in increased efficiency.

How to maintain your water heater

1. Drain or flush annually

To drain a water heater, attach a garden hose to the tank and run it to a place where the hot water will not cause damage. Do not drain the water to your landscaping or lawn as hot water often kills grass and other plants. If you notice a lot of sediment or debris, a full flush is recommended.

This is where you turn the temperature down and completely drain the tank. Then, turn the water back on while the drain is open and let the water flow for a few minutes to help remove any debris.

Water heaters with a tank need to be flushed at least once per year. Tankless water heaters should be flushed every 6-12 months with a descaling solution circulated through them.  The solution is a weak acid that dissolves any deposits inside the heat exchanger. 

2. Complete annual water heater inspection

Start with the top of your water heater and check the pipes and valves for any leaks or heavy corrosion. For electric water heaters, look for signs of leaking such as rust streaks or residue around the upper and lower panels covering the electrical components on the tank.

For gas water heaters, check the draft hood to make sure it is properly placed, with a few inches of air space between the tank and where it connects to the vent. Check the thermostat and the area below, where the gas chamber is located. Look for any corrosion or wear on the gas line and piping.

3. Clean the filter

Turn off the gas/pilot light as dust may flow up into your water heater while you are cleaning. The filter is kept in place with a simple catching mechanism. Undo the mechanism and remove it from your heater’s bottom. Use compressed air to blow away the excess dust, or spray with water until the dust is removed.

If water is used, wipe down with a cloth and hang to dry. Once the filter is dry, return it underneath your water filter by stretching around the bottom and using the grasp mechanism to secure. Check all sides to ensure that your water heater filter is sitting properly and without any gaps that allow dust.

Call a licensed plumber

It is important to have a licensed plumber inspect your water heater. Black residue, soot or charred metal is a sign the water heater is having combustion issues and the unit should be serviced by a professional. If you ever smell gas, immediately turn off the gas supply and call a professional.

Basic water heater maintenance once every 12 months will extend the life of your water heater for years. Call us to schedule a check-up or quickly book your appointment online