Of all the appliances in your home, your water heater probably gets the most use. If you are like most homeowners, the water heater might also be the appliance you think about the least.
Although most water heaters are designed for minimal maintenance, there are a few things you must do occasionally to keep them running at peak efficiency. If you neglect your water heater, you can decrease its life and end up with an expensive repair bill.
Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to help extend the life of your water heater. Calling a reputable plumber to do the maintenance for you can save you a lot of money in the long run. An annual maintenance service call is cheaper than having to replace a unit that was poorly maintained.
Do a yearly flush
Once a year you should turn off your water heater and drain the water. Over time, sediment and minerals build up in the tank and decreases the unit’s effectiveness. Draining flushes the sediment out and helps keep it clean. If you haven’t drained the tank recently, thisoldhouse.com suggests you drain the tank, refill it and drain it again. You can repeat this until the water comes out free of sediment.
Check the anode rod
The anode rod is a simple metal rod that extends into your water heater tank. It is essentially a corrosion magnet. When it is functioning properly, corrosive elements in the water heater will attack and destroy the anode rod and not the steel tank of the water heater.
The rod is usually accessed from the top of the heater and is held in place with a single screw. Since every situation is slightly different depending on the mineral content of the water, it is best to have a professional check this on a yearly basis.
Check the pressure relief valve
The pressure relief valve is a safety feature that keeps the heater from rupturing or even exploding if the temperature or pressure gets too high. Testing the valve each year to make sure that it will release water will also help keep it functioning properly. Sometimes these valves wear out. They start leaking or they can even break. Only a licensed plumber should do any work on a pressure valve or any other part of a water heater.
Tips for efficiency
You can help your water heater be more efficient and safer by making certain that the area around the water heater is free from clutter and unobstructed. You can also install an insulation blanket that wraps around the unit and increases its efficiency. You can also add foam insulation on any pipes leading from the water heater to prevent heat loss. Finally, you can lower the temperature setting to no more than 120 degrees.
These are all fairly simple tasks, but experienced plumbers can spot potential hazards that may end up costing you more down the road. For added peace of mind, choose a local plumber with an excellent BBB rating such as Benjamin Franklin Plumbing would be happy to help.
Linda Stanfield has been offering plumbing services across the Valley for 31 years. She is the only plumber in the state to have won the BBB Ethics Award three times. As a plumbing leader in the valley, she can also be found on TV and YouTube sharing and helping consumers with their plumbing needs.
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