Your water heater is responsible for storing and heating the hot water for your home, and it is generally used every day. Because of its heavy use, the water heater requires routine cleaning and maintenance in order to keep it in top working condition.
Simple routine maintenance will not only extend the life span of your water heater, but it will also help keep small problems from developing into larger ones. Here are a few maintenance tips that can be done between you and your plumber to keep your heater in tip-top condition.
Drain, Flush, and Clean the Tank
Many people don't realize how important it is to drain, flush, and clean the water heater tank. The older the water heater is and the less frequently it is cleaned, the thicker the layers of sediment on the bottom of the tank will be.
Sediment is created as the water is heated, and it can be especially problematic when a water softener is used. A buildup of sediment may cause the tank bottom to overheat, which can melt the lining of the tank. Sediment can also find its way into the recirculating lines, which can cause the pump to stick and eventually jam the open check valves.
At least once per year, you should have the tank drained and flushed in order to remove sediment buildup inside the tank.
Inspect the Pressure Relief Valve
Both electric and gas water heaters have a pressure relief valve, which allows pressure to be released from tank in case it should over pressurize. If you choose to do this yourself, make sure to refer to the owner's manual for step-by-step instructions on how to check the pressure valve on the specific make and model of water heater.
If the pressure valve is faulty, it can lead to excess pressure, which can cause the tank to explode. If you find the pressure relief valve is damaged, you should contact a plumber to make the repairs immediately.
Use the Energy and Vacation Settings
All water heaters have a temperature setting; unfortunately, most people have the temperature on the water heater set higher than what is necessary. Setting the temperature too high means you are wasting energy by keeping the water hot during the times when you don't need it, such as while you're at work or sleeping.
In most situations, setting the temperature to 120 degrees is usually sufficient, and it may help to reduce sediment and extend the life of various parts, such as the heating element.
Another way to extend the life of certain water heater parts as well as reduce energy consumption is by using the "vacation" setting, which prevents the water from continually heating while you are away for an extended length of time.
Have Annual Inspections
One of the best things you can do to maintain and extend the life span of your water heater is to have annual inspections. During an inspection, your plumber will inspect all metal for leaks and rusting, inspect the drain valve, and check the vent pipe to ensure there is a good connection (a poor connection can lead to a carbon monoxide leak and possible poisoning).
The plumber will also inspect the combustion chamber to ensure it doesn't contain black soot, which indicates a drafting problem, combustion problem, and/or fume problem, all of which can be a fire hazard.
If you notice any damage to the water heater, it is important that you contact a plumber as soon as possible to repair or replace the water heater. If you ever smell gas around a gas water heater, turn off the gas supply and contact a professional immediately.
Contact a plumber as soon as possible if you notice rust or residue around the electrical components on a gas or electric water heater. Call Benjamin Franklin Plumbing today to schedule your water heater inspection.