Water Heater Maintenance Tasks Every Homeowner Should Tackle

It’s no secret that water heaters tend to top the list of ignored appliances in a typical home. Most homeowners simply don’t think about them until they either need replacement or repairs. Instead of keeping your water heater out of sight and out of mind, it pays to give it some well-needed attention on a regular basis.

Know Thy Age

This is perhaps one of the most important tips to keep in mind when it comes to water heater maintenance. Your water heater’s age will have a pretty big bearing on the maintenance tasks you’ll need to perform to keep it running smoothly. The average water heater is capable of offering anywhere from 10 to 13 years of reliable service.

If your water heater is nearing the end of its usable life span, it may be time to consider a replacement sooner rather than later. In most cases, simply purchasing a brand new water heater is more economical than spending hundreds of dollars on repairs for each year past its service life.

If your water heater is still a spring chicken, then you’ll want to read on about the many maintenance items you should tackle to keep it in great shape.

Visual Inspections Are Key

It’s a good idea to conduct visual inspections of your water heater on a regular basis to ensure it’s not affected by corrosion or other physical damage. You should also carefully inspect and test the pressure relief valve since it prevents the tank from over-pressurizing. Other valves and burners should also be inspected to ensure safe and efficient operation.

You also want to make sure that your water heater isn’t wasting energy heating the water too much. Lowering the water heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees can not only prevent scalding, but it also helps save as much as 5 percent on your overall energy costs.

Don’t forget to give your water heater’s insulation a good once-over. You should make sure the tank itself, as well as all hot water pipes, are properly insulated.

Give It the Royal Flush

Throughout the lifespan of the water heater, sediment can build up within the tank. The bulk of the sediment usually falls down toward the bottom of the tank, but it can also clog up your water lines and cause the water heater to slowly lose its energy efficiency.

As a part of your water heater maintenance regimen, you should flush the water heater tank every six months. Fortunately, flushing the tank isn’t as hard as you might think.

First, make sure you’ve shut off gas or electricity to the water heater. Also, make sure the cold water inlet is also turned off. Then locate the drain valve for the water heater tank and attach a garden hose to the valve. Make sure the other end the hose is located where it can safely and effectively drain the contents of the water heater.

Open the pressure relief valve and allow the tank to drain in its entirety. You may want to briefly open the cold water inlet to help flush sediment out of the tank. Afterward, close the drain valve and the pressure relief valve. At this point, you can detach your garden hose.

Open up all of the hot water faucets in your home and turn on the cold water inlet to refill the tank. As it does so, keep an eye on each faucet and close them as soon as you see water flowing out of it. Afterward, you can turn on the gas or electricity to the water heater.

Consider Manufacturer Recommendations

In addition to the above tasks, the water heater manufacturer may recommend additional water heater maintenance procedures. However, you won’t know until you’ve read the user manual for your particular water heater.

For more information on water heater maintenance, check out the latest in water heater installation and repair from the professionals at Nicholson Company, or call us at 828-697-2638 for a free estimate.

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