6 Ways to Prevent a Water Heater Disaster

A close-up of a plumber from Mike Counsil Plumbing repairing a water heater

You enjoy hot water every day, yet you probably don’t give much thought to your water heater. Don’t wait for a catastrophic failure – protect your home from a costly water heater breakdown with these simple tips.

Inspect the tank frequently.
It only takes a few moments, but checking up on your water heater every so often can alert you of problems before they cause damage. Look for moisture on plumbing connections, water pooling on the floor or rust beginning to form on the tank. Test the temperature pressure relief valve as well to ensure it snaps back into place. If you spot anything wrong, call a plumber for help.

Relocate the water heater.
Consider moving your water heater to the garage during your next home renovation. This can drastically lessen the potential for damage if the tank leaks or falls over.

Strap down the water heater.
Water heater tanks are most likely to topple over during an earthquake, which is a real possibility here in San Jose. To prevent this, secure your water heater with two heavy-gauge metal straps attached to the wall. You can purchase kits for this purpose or hire a plumber for the job.

Be aware of the water heater’s age.
It’s critical to know how old your water heater is so you have an idea of when to replace it. If you don’t know when the appliance was installed, look for a serial number on the manufacturer’s sticker. The first two digits of this number indicate the year of manufacture. Since you should consider replacing your water heater every 10 years, this number can prove invaluable.

Watch for rusty water.
Your water should always run clear. If it develops a rusty color, this could indicate that your water heater is corroding on the inside. However, it could also mean you have rusty pipes.

To prevent replacing a perfectly good water heater, conduct this test: place a five-gallon bucket under the drain valve near the bottom of the tank. If the water still comes out rusty after two or three buckets full, your water heater is likely to blame, not your pipes.

Replace the tank as soon as possible to prevent a destructive leak. To avoid premature rusting in the future, replace the anode rod inside the tank once it rusts through.

Listen for rumbling noises.
As water heaters age, sediment builds up on the bottom of the tank. This sediment eventually hardens, causing a rumbling or banging sound when the burners turn on. If you hear this sound, that’s a sign your water heater is nearing the end of its life.

You can prevent sediment buildup by flushing the tank once a year. You can use the bucket technique described above or leave the job to a plumber.

With these tips, you can expect your water heater to serve you well for many years to come. To schedule water heater repair or maintenance in San Jose, please contact Mike Counsil Plumbing at 408-618-8002.

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