Left to its own devices, your home’s water heater will likely continue to provide your home with hot water. However, did you know that preventative water heater maintenance can lower your energy costs and help you avoid water heater issues down the road? In about 30 minutes, you can quickly maintain your water heater and ensure that it continues to operate safely and effectively.
Flush your water heater
Throughout the year, sediment and corrosion begin to collect at the bottom of the water heater’s tank. When enough of this material is present in the tank, it can begin to hurt its energy efficiency by blocking the heating element from effectively heating the tank’s water. The best way to remove this built-up sediment is by flushing your water heater at least once per year.
First, you’ll want to turn the water heater off and turn off the power (gas or electricity, depending on what type of system you have) to the water heater. Then, turn off the cold-water intake valve. Inside your home, have one of the faucets running hot water. Connect a hose to the valve at the bottom of the water heater tank, and have that hose routed to a large bucket or barrel that can hold the water from the tank. Drain the tank and—once empty—turn that cold water supply back on and run it through the tank to wash out any remaining sediment.
Once this process has been completed, close the valve and move on to the next step: testing your water heater’s pressure-relief valve.
Check the pressure-relief valve
The emergency pressure-relief valve is a critical safety component for your water heater. The water inside the water heater tank is held under pressure. If this pressure starts to climb—usually, due to the water temperature rising—the purpose of the pressure-relief valve is to release air and water from inside the tank to lower the internal pressure back down to acceptable levels.
For obvious reasons, a faulty pressure-relief valve is a bad news for your water heater tank. Without the ability to discharge it, pressure can build to the point of the tank bursting open, flooding your home with water.
As a homeowner, you should double-check that this valve is working at least once every year. All you need to do is position a bucket beneath the valve and then flip it to the open position. Hot water from the tank should come out of the valve. If it doesn’t, there’s a good chance that something is wrong with the valve and that it needs to be replaced. You’ll need to bring in a professional plumber for help with this task.
Make sure that you end this test by moving the valve back to the closed position.
Inspect the anode rod
Your water heater’s anode rod plays a crucial role in protecting the longevity of your water heater. The anode rod attracts and collects corrosion away from the inside walls and heating element of the tank. Over time, this rust starts to eat away at the rod. A spent anode rod will look as if it has dissolved away.
If your anode rod has been dissolved, it’s a good sign that your water heater might be nearing the end of its life and need to be replaced. Without the sacrificial anode rod in place, the corrosion and rust will start to impact the rest of the system over time. In the event your water heater’s anode rod is still mostly intact, however, you might want to talk to a local plumber about having a new anode rod installed in its place. Doing so can help prolong the life of your water heater.
For water heater maintenance here in Fresno, call us
At Allbritten, our plumbing team specializes in water heater service and replacement. We assist local homeowners here in Fresno and the Central Valley with their water heater maintenance needs. If you need us to repair or maintain your water heater, call us today. We’re ready to help!