The Essential Water Heater Maintenance Checklist

How much thought do you give your water heater? If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think about it very much at all. Many of us just expect it to stay tucked out of sight, providing us with hot water, and we don’t give it a thought until something goes wrong. Unfortunately, this approach to water heaters is short-sighted. With a little bit of maintenance, you can help your water heater running more efficiently and even prolong its lifespan. Here, we offer a water heater checklist to help you stay on top of your water heater maintenance.

  • Know your water heater. If your water heater was in place when you moved into the house, you might not even know the manufacturer or age of the appliance. Knowing the manufacturer and model will give you access to the owner’s manual, which can give you specific details for maintaining the water heater. Knowing your water heater’s age is even more important. Most water heaters last anywhere from five to 15 years, depending on your usage and whether you have hard water. Replacing it before it begins to fail can save you expensive emergency repairs.
  • Perform a visual inspection. Look at the water heater closely, noting any damage to the pipes, pipe joints, or tank. Rusting and leaking are two common types of damage you might see, and these warrant further inspection by a professional. If your water heater tank is showing signs of rust, the metal is deteriorating, and this could lead to a flood if you don’t call in a plumber.
  • Maintain the right temperature. Keeping your water heater set to 120 degrees is the safest option for a few reasons. First, keeping it at a higher temperature can cause scalding. Additionally, when the water heater is too hot, it can result in water heater buildup of minerals, as well as corrosion in the tank.
  • Flush the tank. Once or twice a year, turn off the electricity or gas to the heater, shut off the cold water supply, and connect a hose to the drain valve. Open the hot handle of any faucet and drain the tank, then remove the hose. Draining the water heater tank will clear out sediment and preserve your water heater’s efficiency. Once the tank is empty, close the drain valve, remove the hose, open the cold water supply, open the hot water faucets throughout your house, and wait until water flows from them to turn power back on to the heater.
  • Check the anode rod. Your “sacrificial” anode rod is a long metal rod designed to attract corrosive minerals, removing them from the system. Check it for damage, and if it’s too corroded, have it replaced by a licensed plumber. Anode rods only work when they’re in good condition.
  • Have a professional check the valve. The pressure relief valve is a safety device that prevents the buildup of pressure and excessive temperature in your tank. You could check it yourself, but it’s better to have this done by a professional. Without a properly functioning temperature and pressure valve, the water heater tank could explode, so if yours is not working well, it should be replaced.
  • Ask your plumber about water softening or filtration. Hard water and excess minerals can damage your water heater, so it’s worth considering a water softener or filtration system to extend the lifespan of your water heater. Your plumber will know the conditions in your area and can advise you on the best steps to take to keep your water heater in good working condition.

If you need water heater maintenance or even a new water heater, you can count on Mike Counsil Plumbing and Rooter to provide stellar plumbing and water heater services with a smile. Since 1994, we’ve served San Jose, California, and the South Bay Area, building a reputation on excellent service and a 100 percent satisfaction rate. Our family-owned and -operated company is committed to exceeding our clients’ expectations, and our staff is kept up to date on all the latest advances in the industry. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, we’re available to take care of plumbing issues that can’t wait. Call 408.705.4820 or contact us through our website to learn more.

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