How to Maintain Your Water Heater

Your home’s water heater is an important part of your plumbing system. Without a water heater that works, you can’t take a hot shower, access hot water to clean or cook. When a water heater stops working, it’s a big deal. Most water heaters last 10-15 years, but if you don’t maintain the appliance it won’t last that long. If you want to keep your home’s water heater working well for as long as possible, follow these tips.

Pay Attention to the Temperature

What is the thermostat set to on your water heater? Depending on the manufacturer, your water heater may or may not be set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the default temperature that some manufacturers set their water heaters to. However, 140 degrees Fahrenheit is hotter than necessary. When temperatures rise to this level, the chances of scalding increase and it accelerates corrosion. The better setting for your residential water heater is 120 degree Fahrenheit. At this setting, the tank doesn’t lose as much standby heating and you prevent premature tank damage.

Flush the Tank Regularly

At least one or two times per year, it’s a good idea to drain the water heater tank. When you drain at least one-quarter of the tank, you get rid of sediment and the water heater works more efficient. This is a maintenance task that many people do themselves by hooking up at garden hose to the water heater’s drain valve and letting the water run until it’s clear. If you’re not up for this task, call a plumber for this essential maintenance service.

Test the Pressure Relief Valve

This valve is a very important part of your water heater. If it’s not working well, it can cause serious problems for your water heater and also create a dangerous situation. The relief valve relieves pressure in the water heater. When pressure levels reach a dangerous level, it can make your water heater act like a bomb.

To test the relief valve, raise and lower the test level. Did a burst of water release from the valve? If so, then all is good. If this didn’t happen, you need to call a professional plumber for further examination and have the valve replaced.

Developing a Maintenance Schedule

Water heaters are complex, but they often go unnoticed. That’s because when they’re doing their job no one gives the appliance much thought. It doesn’t help that water heaters are installed in places like the basement, garage, or a utility closet that doesn’t get much traffic. However, if you don’t want to be hit with a huge water heater repair bill or need to replace the unit long before you’re ready, it’s important to pay more attention to this essential household appliance.

That’s why it’s a good idea to develop a regular water heater maintenance schedule. How often do you need water heater services? It depends on how old the water heater is, how well it’s been maintained up to this point, and what type of water heater you have.

Older water heaters that haven’t been maintained very well may need maintenance services more than once or twice a year. If you don’t have plans to replace the water heater anytime soon, speak with your plumber to figure out the best action to take to preserve the heater for as long as possible.

Do you have a conventional water heater or a tankless water heater? Conventional tank heaters need more maintenance because they hold water all day, every day. All tank heaters are susceptible to mineral buildup, but if you have hard water at your house, the problem can be substantially worse. Because tanks hold water they are at risk for more problems. Therefore, if you have a tank hot water heater, you’ll need to maintenance services more often than if you have a tankless hot water heater.

The best way to maintain your water heater is to discuss your concerns with a licensed plumber. At Wise Choice Plumbing & Rooter, we work with homeowners every day to help them get the plumbing services they need to maintain their residential plumbing systems. If you’re in one of our Southern California service areas, call us today to schedule a maintenance service.