Water Heater Maintenance Tips

For many people, the water heater resides in a basement or closet, ignored as long as it is working properly. Yet, your water heater requires some routine care to ensure it doesn't go out at the most inopportune time. Instead of being surprised by a problem, take the proactive step of inspecting and maintaining it annually. The following tips can help.

Tip #1: Wrap It Tight

A hot water heater blanket helps retain heat. The less heat it loses, the less energy it has to use to maintain the water temperature inside. This doesn't just save you on your power bills, it also puts less stress on the system since it isn't constantly running to replace the lost heat. Use an insulation blanket made specifically for hot water heaters. These blanket only wrap around the sides—you don't want to cover the vent at the top. You will also need to cut out windows for any burner vents or control access. It is then taped to the heater with electrical tape.

Tip #2: Drain It Annually

Hard water deposits can build up in your hot water heater. These become apparent when you begin to hear knocking sounds – these are the result of deposits falling off the sides of the tank. Draining your heater once a year cuts down on this issue. Simply shut off power and water to the system. Then, hook a hose to the drain valve and run the hose to a drain or out a window. Then, open the drain valve and allow the water – and any deposits – run out. Once done, remove the hose, close the valves, and turn the system back on.

Tip #3: Check the Emergency Valve

All hot water heaters have an emergency valve located near the top of the unit. This usually then has a pipe that leads down to an inch or two above the floor. If the water heats too much inside the unit, the pressure builds and the unit can explode. A properly working drain valve will reroute the pressurized water out of the top of the unit and safely to the ground. It's a good idea to make sure this valve is working via an annual inspection. Simply push the valve open quickly and let it spring back shut. A small burst of water indicates it is working properly. (Be careful, it's hot!) If it has been a couple of years since the valve has been tested, corrosion is a real possibility. Instead of trying to force it open yourself, consult a plumber (like those at G K Mechanical (1997) Ltd) to make the repair. Otherwise, a forced valve could results in a major leak.