Many homeowners are more than aware they have several responsibilities that must be performed to ensure their the longevity of their equipment and appliances such as water heater maintenance. A home is a safe haven, a place for relaxation as well as an investment. Without the proper appliances and equipment, or if these necessary components aren’t maintained, our homes lose their intrinsic quality. The majority of us have had to work very hard to own our homes, turn our houses into homes and we’ve worked hard to keep them that way. Therefore, it should go without saying, the maintenance of our equipment and appliances is just as vital as our homes themselves.
The Importance of Water Heater Maintenance
While at times performing the crucial, routine, maintenance of the vital components that ensure our equipment operates at optimal efficiency can become mundane, we comprehend it’s necessary. Although there are numerous tasks that require attention at any given time, today we’ll be speaking of water heater maintenance. We all require water and a hot water heater requires maintenance to ensure it’s performing at maximum efficiency. Performing this essential task will increase its lifespan, decrease utility bills and ensure there are no safety issues that need to be addressed. As long as routine maintenance is continually performed, you can rest assured this appliance is operating optimally. In order to better assist you, regarding water heater maintenance, we’ve compiled the necessary information to perform this function yourself, prior to requiring an unexpected repair, replacement or worse, safety issues. To simplify the process, we’ve created a checklist and recommend following it in order. So, allow us to begin!
1. Inspect your water heater pressure relief valve.
If you’re unfamiliar with your water heater and don’t know what, or where, the pressure relief valve is, allow us to divulge. A pressure relief valve is a safety device utilized to control the pressure that builds up and occurs in appliances such as the hot water heater. This is due to the equipment transforming cold water into hot water which causes expansion within the tank. This small device is critical to the safety of you and your home, as extreme damage (explosion) may occur if this device is faulty. Generally, these relief valves are located atop your hot water heater or near the top and appear as a lever or switch. To inspect this element, simply lightly lift the valve. Water will emerge, so don’t be alarmed, that’s a good thing and if your discharge pipe (connected to the valve) doesn’t flow to a drain pipe or outside, place a bucket underneath the pipe to collect the water. This valve, when in proper working order, will perform this function automatically as pressure rises. If this crucial component isn’t releasing water, it needs to be replaced immediately and you must turn the unit off until this takes place. Either you may replace it, though we recommend calling a professional plumber in case there are further issues which have caused the pressure relief valve to fail. Your safety is our number one concern and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
2. Ensure your water heater thermostat is set at the correct temperature.
Your water heater is equipped with a thermostat, which controls the temperature of the water that your water heater emits – another important aspect of Water Heater Maintenance. In most circumstances, this thermostat is covered with a piece of sheet metal, secured by two screws and never changes from installation. However, by chance, especially if you have children or guests (especially during the holidays) the temperature may have been changed. Either way, as it correlates with the function of your pressure relief valve, saves energy and ensures the desired temperature is being achieved. We recommend checking that the thermostat is set at the proper temperature, especially if you notice any changes in water temperature, yet more importantly as part of your water heater maintenance checklist. Simply remove the thermostat cover and observe the setting. It should be set at your water heater manufacturer’s recommendation located in the manual. This is typically 120 degrees and is also recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency. However, if you’ve noticed a decrease in water temperature or an increase, this is an indication that there may be a larger issue and you should contact a professional as soon as possible.
3. Drain your water heater yearly.
Ensure the gas or electricity that supplies the water heater is off! Proceed to turn on a hot water faucet somewhere in your home, we recommend the bath due to the amount that flows and its capacity, for 10-15 minutes. Performing this allows the hot water to drain while cool water pumps back in the water heater, effectively cooling the water and making it safe to handle. Now, turn the main water valve off and proceed to the drain valve at the bottom of your tank. Ensure the drain isn’t clogged, if it is, consider utilizing tools to unclog it enough to allow water to flow. Attach a garden hose to the drain valve and allow the water to flow through the hose outside or to your floor drain, utilizing a colander or some other tool to collect any debris from clogging your drain. Drain once or more, if required or wanted, by turning the water back on, allowing the water to run through your water heater and hose until it’s clear. When you have completed this process to your satisfaction, replace the drain cover, refill your water heater and turn the electric or gas back on.
Never, allow your water heater to be on until it is completely filled. Doing so will result in damage to your water heater. You may also skip the cooling process, although we strongly recommend it as the water will be extremely hot and may cause burns, especially if there is built up debris. If skipping the process of debris removal as draining and flushing typically aid the removal, leave the main valve on, allowing the cool water to continue to flow throughout the tank and out of the drain.