Taking Care of Your Water Heater

Water temperature controls on a hot water heater

Water heater maintenance can be a little intimidating. What in the world do you do with that giant tank of water in the closet in order to ensure it’s in good running order? For some devices and appliances, figuring out basic maintenance is easy and intuitive. You don’t need an engineering degree to know that you have to change the filter on your A/C vents now and then, for instance.

Water Heater Maintenance

The good news is that it’s not nearly as tough as it looks. It’s not a tough repair job, it’s just basic maintenance. Here’s what you’ll want to do in order to make sure your water heater runs like a dream for years to come:

  • Set the thermostat to 120 degrees. Every ten degrees lower you set your heater will help you to save around five percent in energy costs.
  • Once a year you’ll want to remove build-up, debris, sediments and so on from the tank. This is especially important if you have hard water with a bit too much calcium in it. Drain a quarter of the water from the tank, turn the cold water supply off, attach a garden hose to the drain valve, and run the water into a bucket until it comes out clear, stirring the tank when it’s cloudy in order to get all the sediment out. As an added bonus to the cleaner water and longer lifespan this lends your heater, it also helps the heater to make a little less noise.
  • Once every three years, do a visual check of the sacrificial anode rod. You’re looking for excessively exposed steel wire and heavy calcium buildup. If it’s in rough shape, you can get a thirteen-inch zinc-aluminum anode rod and replace it on your own.
  • Test the temperature-pressure relief valve once a year. This is easy: Just discharge it a couple times, and then keep an eye out for leaks in the valve.
  • If you’ve got a gas-powered water heater, you’ll want to set it for vacation mode if you’re going to be out of town for a little while. This leaves the pilot light running without heating the water, so you don’t come back to a utility bill for a bunch of showers you never took.
  • Keep a two-foot clearance radius around your heater. Keep it free of clutter, don’t store anything on top of the heater, just give it some space. You don’t want to find your box of books caked in mold because of an unchecked heater leak.

Call a Water Heater Repair Specialist

Taking care of your water heater is easy. You can do all the basic maintenance yourself, and if you have a problem that calls for a professional, we’re here to help.