Five Steps for Maintaining Your Water Heater

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In our previous article, we discussed five tips for improving your water heater's efficiency through the remainder of winter. We rarely consider our water heaters until they malfunction; however, regular and proper maintenance is vital for maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of your unit.

We touched on water heater maintenance in the last blog. In this blog we will walk you through the process of performing routine and proper water heater maintenance.

1) Step One: Flush Your Water Heater's Storage Tank

Over time, sediments will invade your water begin to collect inside your tank. This build up makes it more difficult for your system to heat up the water, reducing the efficiency and lifespan of your water. To get the most out of your unit, make sure you flush your system at least annually or bi-annually.

  • Shut off electrical power to your water heater.
  • Attach a garden hose to your water heater’s tank faucet. Place the other end of the hose in a five-gallon bucket. You do not need to do this if you have a floor drain.
  • Drain water from the tank into the bucket.
  • Examine the bucket's contents to determine if there is an excess amount of sediment.
  • If there is excess sediment, allow the tank to refill and repeat the draining process.
  • Remember to restore power to your unit after you complete the process.
  • Allow the water to warm before using hot water.

2) Step Two: Examine Your Water Heater for Leaks and Visible Damage

Leaking water lines to and from your unit can waste a tremendous amount of water. Make sure you check supply lines to your unit for signs of leakage. In addition to wasting water, water damage can lead to wood rot and the development of mold. Mold is difficult and costly to remediate, and can be harmful to you and your family.

3) Step Three: Check Your Water Heater's Thermostat

Like your heating and air conditioning system, your water heater has a thermostat setting. It can be tempting to raise the thermostat setting, especially if your water is not getting warm enough to meet your needs. However, raising your unit's temperature will decrease its efficiency.

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If your unit is not warming your water effectively, it is likely indicative of other issues, and will require inspection and repair by a professional plumber.

4) Step Four: Check Your Water Heater's Sacrificial Anode Rod

The sacrificial anode rod is designed to prevent rust and corrosion in your water heater by becoming corroded itself. It is made from magnesium or aluminum and is literally sacrificed for the sake of your unit. However, if it is less than 50% of its original thickness, it will need to be replaced.

5) Step Five: Remove Your Water Heater from Your Attic

Though this is not something you should undertake on your own, if your water heater is in your attic, it should be moved to your basement or crawlspace. In your attic, your unit is a tick time-bomb. If it fails, water can penetrate your walls and ceiling, causing extensive damage throughout your home. Mold can develop within 48 hours of the occurrence of water damage.

If your water heater is in your attic, or if you suspect your unit may require repair or replacement, Barlow Plumbing's experienced plumbers are here to help. If you are in the Asheville area, contact us for any plumbing maintenance or installation needs.

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