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What Types of Maintenance Should be Done on a Water Heater?

NexGen What Types of Maintenance Should be Done on a Water Heater

Water heater maintenance consists of various tasks, some of which you may be tempted to try yourself. It’s best to schedule maintenance service every year. A plumbing services professional has the tools and equipment to inspect and test the unit to make sure it’s working properly. The following steps enable a contractor to help your water heater run smoothly, reliably, and efficiently.

Flush the Tank

Your water heater should be flushed at least once a year. The process entails draining the unit. First, the technician turns the system off. If it’s gas-powered, the gas supply valve is shut. Next, a hose is attached to the drain valve and the valve is opened. 

The water may be dark or cloudy at first, but the tech will let it run and drain until it is clear (they’ll open and close the cold-water supply valve to stir up the sediment and improve drainage); this should take 20 to 25 minutes. Lastly, the drain is closed, the tank is refilled, and the power is restored.

Check the Anode Rod

The sacrificial anode rod attracts corrosive elements, so they don’t damage the tank. Over time, the metal rod will corrode; it should be replaced every three to five years. To check the anode rod, a technician partially drains the tank and unscrews it using a 1 1/16-inch socket on the hex head at the top of the water heater. 

The rod is replaced if it’s less than ½ inch thick or completely coated. It can be difficult to remove, so it’s best for a technician to check it and, if necessary, install a new anode rod.

Adjust the Temperature

A maintenance contractor sometimes adjusts the water temperature using the water heater’s thermostat. If it’s set to 140℉, that’s too high; you risk getting burned and the water heater will use more energy than necessary. Setting the unit to as low as 120℉ prevents scalding and bacterial growth. 

The thermostat for a gas water heater is located on the tank. An electric water heater must be powered down by flipping the circuit breaker on the main panel. Pulling back insulation exposes the thermostat, which can be adjusted (in 10-degree increments) using a flathead screwdriver. You can lower the unit’s energy consumption by 5% for every 10 degrees you lower the water temperature.

Test the Temperature Pressure Relief (TPR) Valve

Tank-based water heaters have a safety feature that releases pressure if the water gets too hot. Since water expands when it heats, it can put immense pressure on the tank until it bursts. A maintenance tech will test the TPR valve each year. However, you can test it by lifting the valve’s lever and letting out some water. Have the valve replaced if no water comes out or flows out in large amounts (the water should start flowing and then stop). We recommend testing the TPR valve monthly.

Insulate the Water Heater and Pipes

A water heater can be covered with an insulating blanket, such as a foil-covered bubble wrap. When wrapping the tank, avoid covering the top if you have a gas or oil water heater, and fit it around the pipes, TPR valve, and temperature control. For an electric water heater, tape the edge of the insulating material to the side of the tank. Insulating the pipes going to and from the unit helps keep water hot as it moves toward fixtures and can prevent frozen pipes in winter.

Replace the Air Intake Filter

Tankless water heaters have an air intake. A filter prevents dust and debris from getting in and causing damage. If it is dirty or clogged, the unit can overheat and shut down. Therefore, replacing the air intake filter can avoid costly repairs or having to replace the water heater prematurely. 

More Tips for Water Heater Maintenance

In addition to the types of maintenance described above, these tips can help your water heater run more smoothly and efficiently:

Schedule Water Heater Maintenance with NexGen

Flushing the tank and water lines, insulating the system, and testing the TPR valve can help improve the performance, efficiency, and longevity of a water heater. At NexGen, our licensed and insured technicians are familiar with every aspect of water heater maintenance and are equipped to deal with and resolve any issue. They can help you save in the long run. Our X Protection Plan includes one water heater flush per year plus discounts on repairs and other benefits. To learn more and schedule water heater maintenance and other plumbing services in Southern California, call (805) 301-6788.

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