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Water Heater Maintenance – Basics You Should Know

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Water heaters play a critical role in our day-to-day lives. We need them for doing dishes, cooking, cleaning, warm showers and baths, and more, especially during the winter season. Perhaps it’s because they’re usually tucked away in secluded areas of the house, but they are often overlooked and undervalued. The only time they’re paid the attention they deserve is when they start malfunctioning, and we are left to endure an icy cold shower.

As with most things and appliances, water heaters also need regular TLC to run efficiently for the duration of its average lifespan. Most water heaters can last anywhere between 8 to 12 years, but with routine maintenance, can keep running for 15 years, or longer.

Many homeowners are lead into thinking that water heater maintenance is expensive – but in fact, it’s not. Most of the time, heater repairs cost a lot because they have been neglected for too long. Worse, the heater has sustained damages that are beyond repair, and the next best option would be to buy a new one.

If your water heater is showing signs of deterioration or fails to heat water properly, then it’s obviously in need of attention. However, even without any apparent traces of distress, you still have to check it regularly. With little preventative measures, like scheduled upkeeps, you can prolong its life and improve its efficiency.

Tips on Water Heater Maintenance

Here are some basic hot water heater maintenance methods; some of them, easy enough to do on your own.

Visual maintenance

Take the time to examine the physical condition of your unit once every few months. Look for any leaking, rusting, corrosion, deformation, and other irregularities on the external part of the tank. Also, check the condition of the pipes and make sure that the fittings are appropriately secure. If any problems are observed, that’s your cue to get a professional to come check it out.

Insulating the heater

Newer water heater models are usually insulated, but the older ones are most likely not. If you have one of the earlier versions, consider covering the tank with a fiberglass jacket or an insulating blanket. For the pipes, you can use self-sticking pipe insulation. Insulating the pipes will help prevent condensation in the summer, and cracks in the winter. Insulating the tanks will also reduce heat-loss, resulting in savings in water-heating costs.

Checking the anode rod

The anode rod is vital in protecting the inside of the heater from rust. It’s cheaper to replace a worn out rod than to buy a new heater, so make it a point to check the rod’s thickness from time to time. If it’s less than half-an-inch thick or is already coated with calcium, that’s your cue to buy a new one.

Testing the temperature and pressure valve

The valves are essential in controlling the pressure inside the tank. That said, an experienced professional should test them, ideally, every six months. Any signs of leak or build-up mean they have to be replaced rather than repaired. Inefficient valves may cause severe damage to the unit or cause an explosion.

Draining the tank

Gas water and electric water heaters need draining at least once a year to rid it of dirt, deposits, and mineral sediments sitting at the bottom. Draining the tank keeps the heater working properly and improves the performance and durability of the unit.

Consult a Water Heater Maintenance Expert

There is no telling how much trouble a broken water heater can cause. Thus, it is crucial to keep it properly maintained. If you’re not sure how to go about the process on your own, call an expert. Not only will it save you time and effort, it also comes with the guarantee of a more thorough inspection. In fact, even a knowledgeable DIYer should consider scheduling an annual check-up with a professional for assurance and safety purposes.

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