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How to Maintain Your Water Heater

What’s often overlooked is the home’s plumbing system. The condition of plumbing features, especially the shower, water heater, and sewer pipes, can dramatically affect the value of a home.

The size and design of water piping running to and from the water heater is extremely important and can affect aspects like water pressure and water leaks. Our expert home inspector inspects the different elements of the water heater and advises you on what requirements are non-negotiable. If there are problems occurring, here are some water heater repair tips to help keep it working.

3 Reasons Have your Water Heater Regularly Inspected

Technician servicing an hot-water heater

Delaying water heater maintenance is never a good idea. You rely on your water heater for around-the-clock hot water. Imagine how unpleasant showering and bathing will become without your water heater. Here are 3 good reasons why you should schedule a yearly professional water heater inspection.

1. Prevent Major Problems

You’re taking a major risk by ignoring your water heater. The chance of a malfunction increases the longer the water heater goes without an inspection. Warning signs, such as corrosion and sediment buildup, are easy to spot during an inspection. You’ll have the chance to address problems before things get beyond repair.

2. Lower Water Heating Costs

It takes a significant amount of energy to operate a water heater. It’s estimated that a water heating system accounts for up to 18 percent of home energy use. If your system isn’t working properly, then it could be costing more than you realize. A yearly inspection will keep your water heater operating at peak efficiency.

3. Protect Your Family

Carbon monoxide leaks are possible if you have a faulty gas water heater. This is extremely dangerous, as the gas is odorless and deadly. Stomach upset, physical weakness, dizziness, and headache are possible indicators of carbon monoxide poisoning. Chest pain, vomiting, and mental fogginess are also symptoms.

3 Ways to Maintain Your Water Heater

  1. Check the Pressure-Relief Valve

Test the pressure-relief valve located on the top or side of the water heater. This valve opens automatically if the pressure inside the tank gets too high. (Excess pressure can actually cause the tank to explode.) To test it, place a bucket below the discharge pipe on your water heater tank and gently lift the lever on the pressure-relief valve.

If the valve doesn’t release water when you lift the lever, replace the valve. Replacement is simple: Turn off the water, drain the tank, unscrew the discharge pipe and then unscrew the old valve. Wrap the threads of the new valve with sealant tape and screw it in. If your valve is several years old and has never been tested, it might leak after you test it. In that case, replace the valve.

To check your work, close the shutoff valve on the cold water supply pipe that feeds the water heater. Then turn on the hot water at any faucet to release the pressure inside the heater’s tank. Leave the faucet on until you finish your work. If you have an electric heater, turn off the power at the main panel. With a gas heater, turn the gas control dial to “off.”

  1. Drain Sediments From the Water Heater Tank

Drain the tank to flush out sediments that have settled to the bottom of the tank. Sediment buildup shortens the life of your water heater and adds to your energy bill by reducing its efficiency. Draining two or three gallons of water is usually enough to flush out sediments, but always let the water flow until you no longer see particles in the bucket. Open the drain valve slowly and let the water run until it’s clear and free of sediments.

  1. Check for Strange Noises

Rust, sediment, and mineral buildup in the tank are typically the cause of hot water heater gurgling noises. This is common in older water heaters, as they are more prone to rust and buildup. When you turn the shower or faucet on, the hot water in the water heater tank rises to the top for dispersal into your house. It’s replaced by cold water, which needs to be heated in preparation for use. The cold water settles at the bottom of the tank below the hot water. If there’s a lot of scaling or sediment build-up when the heated water rises it creates the gurgling sound.

In order to prevent calcium deposits from forming not only in your water heater but in the entire plumbing system of your home, it is best to install a water softener. Calcium buildup is prevented before it even occurs with this solution, saving you time and money in the long run.