Water heaters are usually hidden away, in your garage or a small closet. However, they still need regular maintenance! Here are a few water heater maintenance tips to keep your unit running smoothly:
- Drain the water from your tank two to three times a year, or more if you live in a hard-water area. First, turn off the water heater. Then, attach a garden house to the drain valve and empty several gallons of water. It will likely look rusty or brown due to the calcium carbonate that settles to the bottom of your tank. Draining your hot water heater will help prolong it’s capacity and lifespan!
- Test the temperature-pressure relief (T & P) valve near the top of the tank. Make sure the pipe is attached to the value outlet, then pull up on the handle. If water flows out of the pipe, the valve is clear and operating.
- Sediment may stick to the drain or T & P valve, preventing it from sealing completely. Opening and closing the valves several times should help to clear any residue. If the T & P valve still does not seal, then call a plumber immediately. Never cap the discharge pipe.
- Insulate your water heater with an at-home kit! Be careful not to cover the T & P valve, control panel, or drain. Do not cover the top of gas-fired units and keep the pilot light, air intake, and draft diverter clear.
- Your water temperature isn’t just a water heater maintenance issue, it’s a safety issue. Many water heaters are automatically heat water to 140 degrees, which could burn a child in less than 3 seconds. To prevent accidental burns or scalding, set your water heater thermostat between 100-120 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature allows for more than 30 seconds to react before burns set in. However, be aware that temperatures below 120 degrees can allow bacteria to grow in your tank. Click here to learn how to test your hot water temperature!
- If you live in an earthquake zone you may also want to consider water heater straps. This can help to stabilize the unit and prevent it from tipping over.