article

Maintaining Your Hot Water Heater

By Sarah Kellner via Realty Times

bluehammer

Water heaters generally have a lifespan of 8-12 years, but as with anything, the better care you take of it, the longer it will last. There are several easy "set it and forget it" tips that you can use with your water heater, like keeping the thermostat at 120 degrees, and always maintain two feet of clearance around the appliance. You can also conserve money on your gas bill by setting your heater to its "vacation" setting when leaving town. This will keep the pilot light going without heating the water.

Water heater maintenance goes well beyond just checking the thermostat, however. Here are some detailed tips for making sure your water heater lives a long, full life.

Draining & Cleaning

The bottom of the tank can contain all manner of sediment, calcium deposits, rust and bacteria. Drain a quarter of the tank a few times a year to remove this debris. Hook up a garden hose to the drain valve and run until the water is clear.

A once-a-year full cleaning should include draining the appliance completely, removing the drain valve and then scrubbing the bottom with a long, narrow brush. From there, screw on a nipple, pump 15 or 20 seconds worth of fresh water into the tank, then drain, repeating the process until the water runs clear. This is the best chemical-free way to clean a water heater.

Testing the TPR Valve

Most experts recommend testing the temperature and pressure relief (TPR) valve on your water heater every six months for optimal performance. Frequent testing can also reduce the chance of a leak resulting from mineral salt, rust and corrosion buildup, or worse: an explosion.

To perform the test, slowly raise and lower the test lever so that it lifts the brass stem. At this point, hot water should rush out of the end of the drainpipe. If you get no water, or only a trickle, be sure to replace the valve. The main thing to watch for immediately after testing the TPR valve is a leak. If you do catch a leak, operate the test level a few more times to loosen the debris that could be preventing the valve from working correctly. If the valve is functioning properly, turn down the temperature on the water heater controller and turn down the water pressure.

Examining the Sacrificial Anode

'Sacrificial anode' is the fancy name for the rod of metal located in your water heater's tank that rusts easily so that the steel won't; it takes the fall, essentially. Sacrificial anodes in water heaters are made of highly corrosive metals like magnesium and aluminum.

bluehammer

To examine your heater's sacrificial anode you must first remove it. Start by shutting off the electricity or gas to the water heater, as well as the water supply. Drain a few inches of water from the tank via the tank valve. Locate the top of the anode rod or connecting hardware - it may be under a cap about halfway to the center, or it may be under a pink top nipple. Loosen the anode very carefully with a wrench. Here, it may be necessary to apply penetrating oil to the connecting nut or threads.

One you remove the anode, inspect it carefully. If it is covered in rough metal that looks like it's been chewed, that's normal and your anode is functioning properly. If you can see six inches or more of the steel core wire inside the anode, replace it. If not, put it back in place and check back in a year.

Insulating Older Units

When you insulate the walls in your house, you increase its energy efficiency, and the same is true with your water heater. Although newer units are optimized for insulation, many older units are not, and by insulating them, you could reduce heat loss by 25-45%. If you're not sure whether or not to insulate your appliance, simply touch it; if it's warm to the touch, it's time to insulate.

Before purchasing a water heater insulating blanket kit, check with your utility to see if they offer blankets at discounted rates. Some companies even install them for little-to-no cost.

To self-install, turn off the electricity to your heater at the breaker (or for gas, switch the valve to "pilot" position). Wrap the blanket around the heater and tape it temporarily, leaving open areas for the access panel(s), valves and for gas heaters, the burner areas. Then tape the blanket permanently, and be sure to never set the thermostat above 130 degrees because the wiring could overheat.

When to Replace?

If you own a conventional storage tank water heater and it's getting into the double digits in age, it's time to replace. However if your water heater is only a few years old, there are a few things that would only take about $150-300 to repair. These things include extinguished pilot lights, burner or heating elements failing, thermostats breaking, or valves sticking. The two precursors to replacement are usually either old age or a leak. When your water heater springs a leak that usually means it's time to face the music and buy a new one.

What are some other ways you care for your water heater?

Want to estimate your home improvement costs before talking with a contractor? Claim your home for free with bluehammer to estimate costs, secure your home inventory and learn more about your home.

* THIS REPORT IS AN OPINION THAT MAY BE INACCURATE AND IS PROVIDED SOLELY AS AN INFORMATIONAL TOOL NOT DESIGNED TO PROVIDE DEFINITIVE ANSWERS. ALL ELEMENTS ARE OFFERED “AS IS” AND BLUEBOOK EXPRESSLY DISCLAIM ANY AND ALL WARRANTIES, REPRESENTATIONS, AND GUARANTEES OF ANY NATURE, EXPRESS, IMPLIED OR OTHERWISE, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO ANY IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABLITILY, NONINFRINGEMENT, TITLE, QUIET ENJOYMENT, ACCURACY, OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. IN NO EVENT SHALL BLUEBOOK (OR THEIR SUPPLIERS) BE LIABLE FOR ANY GENERAL, DIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, INDIRECT OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OF ANY KIND, OR ANY DAMAGES WHATSOEVER (INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION, THOSE RESULTING FROM USE OF THE PRODUCT, INCLUDING : (1) RELIANCE ON THE MATERIALS PRESENTED, (2) COSTS OF REPLACEMENT GOODS, (3) LOSS OF USE, DATA OR PROFITS, (4) DELAYS OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTIONS, (5) AND ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OR PERFORMANCE OF INFORMATION) WHETHER OR NOT BLUEBOOK HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.

Know what you should pay for your home improvement projects with bluehammer.Claim your home. It's free!

Popular


5 Home Upgrades For Your Vacation Rental Space

Vacation rentals are experiencing a surge of popularity as websites like VRBO and Airbnb make them more accessible. Guests can find a place that fits their budget, location and accommodation needs. Hosts can easily list their property.

How To Score A Deal On Home Appliances

Who doesn't dream of a kitchen full of shiny, new appliances. Raise your hand if you want a new refrigerator, dishwasher, oven, microwave - and, hey, let's throw in a washer and dryer, too - but don't want to pay top dollar for them. The expense is definitely a bummer when it comes to buying new, but you don't have to go broke to get what you want. Use a few tips and tricks to get a great deal.

7 Reasons Quartz Counters Are The Answer For Your Kitchen

Has the tide finally turned on granite? In the last few years, granite has continued to be a popular choice for kitchen counters, but has lost ground to quartz, which is now the go-to for homebuyers and renovators, not to mention design shows and flippers. If you're getting ready to redo your kitchen or are building a new home, here are all the reasons to swaddle your counters in quartz.

How to Upkeep Your Home So Neighbors Are In Awe

Homeowners are responsible for the quality of their home with the maintenance and care that they provide for the building throughout the year. Every home requires a specific amount of upkeep to ensure that it maintains its value and has a high level of appeal. To keep your neighbors in awe of your home, there are a few important steps to take to allow it to stand out in the local area.

6 Smart Updates To Make To Your Bathroom

The idea of renovating your bathroom can be overwhelming, but you don't have to knock down walls or gut the whole thing to make it feel new again. Making smart updates can get you closer to the look you want without the big budget, or the big hassle.

Getting your home ready for that big party

Preparing for a party can be a hectic time - you have a full slate on your to do list, including choosing the menu, preparing food, planning activities, and coordinating decor. It can be easy to overlook one of the most important elements of planning an event, making sure your home is presentable for your guests. Our guide will help you to quickly get your house party-ready so you can focus on all the other things involved in preparing for your event.

7 Rules for Choosing The Right Area Rug

You just moved into your new home. You've purchased the perfect furniture and accessories. You even found the perfect area rug to add to your hardwood floors, but you're totally stumped on which size to buy.

Simple DIY Projects That Will Increase the Value of Your Home

Looking to boost the value of your home without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars? You can! Making changes in certain rooms, like the kitchen and bathroom, is more beneficial than in others. These simple DIY projects will help increase your home's value the most.

Creative Ways To Keep Your Home Cool Without Running Your Air Conditioning 24-7

Heat wave! Are you feeling it? Are you over it? Are you dreading this month's electric bill that will rival your monthly grocery budget? There are a few tricks that can help you keep cool at home without running your air conditioning all day.

The Nightmare Next Door: What To Do When Your Neighbor Is a Nuisance

The animals that live in the house across the street bark incessantly. The people two doors down play their music so loud you now know all the lyrics to every Kendrick Lamar song ever written. And something, presumably a dog (you hope) keeps leaving presents on your lawn. Annoyances like these can make it unpleasant to live in your neighborhood. And, they can quickly escalate, becoming dangerous or even in need of legal intervention.

See More Articles