Your water heater is an essential appliance that provides you with hot water for various daily tasks, from showers to washing dishes and doing laundry. To ensure it functions efficiently and lasts for years to come, regular maintenance is crucial. Neglecting your water heater can lead to higher energy bills, reduced performance, and even costly repairs or replacements. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the steps to maintain your water heater and keep it in tip-top shape.
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Maybe you are wondering: How long should a water heater last?
The lifespan of a water heater can vary depending on several factors, including the type of water heater, the quality of its construction, the local water quality, and how well it has been maintained. Here’s a general guideline for the lifespan of different types of water heaters:
- Conventional Tank Water Heaters:
- Gas: Typically last around 8 to 12 years.
- Electric: Typically last around 10 to 15 years.
- Tankless Water Heaters:
- Gas: Can last 20 years or more.
- Electric: Can last 20 years or more.
- Heat Pump Water Heaters:
- Typically last around 10 to 15 years.
- Solar Water Heaters:
- Typically last around 20 years or more.
It’s important to note that these are general estimates, and individual water heaters may vary. Some may fail earlier due to factors like poor maintenance, high mineral content in the water (which can cause sediment buildup), or excessive use. On the other hand, well-maintained water heaters in areas with good water quality may exceed the expected lifespan.
To maximize the lifespan of your water heater, it’s essential to perform regular maintenance, such as flushing the tank, checking the anode rod, and ensuring proper insulation. Additionally, being mindful of the warranty period and manufacturer’s recommendations can help you get the most out of your water heater. When a water heater reaches the end of its expected lifespan, it’s a good idea to consider replacement to avoid unexpected failures and potential damage from leaks or ruptures. Now, let’s cover a few ways to maintain your water heater.
How to Maintain Your Water Heater
- Check the Temperature
The temperature setting on your water heater should be set between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit (49-52 degrees Celsius). This range is hot enough for your daily needs while preventing scalding accidents. Adjust the thermostat if necessary and use a thermometer to ensure the temperature is accurate.
- Test the Pressure Relief Valve
The pressure relief valve is a safety feature that releases excess pressure to prevent your water heater from exploding. To test it:
a. Turn off the power or gas supply to the water heater. b. Place a bucket or container under the valve. c. Lift the valve’s lever to release some water. You should hear a rush of water into the bucket. d. If the valve doesn’t release water or continues to drip afterward, it may need replacing. Consult a professional plumber for this task.
- Flush the Tank
Over time, sediment and minerals can accumulate at the bottom of your water heater tank, reducing its efficiency and potentially causing damage. Flushing the tank once a year can help:
a. Turn off the power or gas supply. b. Connect a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank and place the other end in a drain or outside. c. Open the drain valve and let the water flow until it runs clear, indicating that sediment has been removed. d. Close the drain valve and turn the water supply back on.
- Insulate Pipes and Tank
Insulating your water heater and hot water pipes can help reduce heat loss, making your system more energy-efficient. You can find pipe insulation at your local hardware store, and insulating the tank itself with a water heater blanket can also save energy and money.
- Check for Leaks
Inspect your water heater and the surrounding area for any signs of leaks, corrosion, or moisture. A leaking water heater can lead to serious damage, so address any issues promptly. Call a professional plumber if you notice any problems.
- Test the Anode Rod
The anode rod is a sacrificial component that prevents corrosion inside your water heater tank. Over time, it can become depleted and need replacement. To check the anode rod:
a. Turn off the power or gas supply. b. Locate the anode rod’s access point on top of the tank. c. Use a socket wrench to remove the anode rod. If it’s heavily corroded or less than half an inch thick, it’s time for a replacement.
- Schedule Professional Maintenance
While many of the maintenance tasks listed above can be done by homeowners, it’s a good idea to schedule annual professional maintenance. A qualified plumber can inspect your water heater, check for any potential issues, and perform necessary adjustments and repairs.