Water heaters are a vital appliance in any home, providing hot water for showers, dishwashing, and laundry. Regular maintenance is essential to keep your water heater running efficiently and effectively. Proper maintenance can also help to extend the life of your water heater, saving you the cost of an early replacement. In this article, we will discuss some simple steps you can take to maintain and extend the life of your water heater.
The first step in maintaining your water heater is to understand the type of water heater you have. There are two main types of water heaters: tank-based and tankless. Tank-based water heaters store hot water in a tank, while tankless water heaters heat water on-demand as it flows through the unit. The maintenance requirements for each type of water heater are slightly different, so it is important to know which type you have.
For tank-based water heaters, one of the most important maintenance tasks is to drain the tank. Over time, sediment can build up in the bottom of the tank, which can reduce the efficiency of the heater and even damage the tank. Draining the tank can help to remove this sediment and keep your water heater running smoothly. To drain the tank, turn off the power or gas supply to the water heater, and then attach a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank. Open the valve and allow the water to flow out of the tank until it runs clear. This process should be done at least once a year.
Another important task for tank-based water heaters is to check the temperature and pressure relief valve. This valve is designed to release pressure and hot water from the tank if the temperature or pressure becomes too high. Over time, the valve can become clogged or stuck, which can prevent it from working properly. To check the valve, lift the lever on the valve and listen for a hissing sound. If you don’t hear a sound or the valve doesn’t release water, it may need to be replaced.
For tankless water heaters, regular maintenance is also important to keep them running efficiently. One of the most important tasks is to clean the heat exchanger, which is the component that transfers heat from the gas or electric heating element to the water. Over time, mineral buildup can occur on the heat exchanger, which can reduce the efficiency of the heater. To clean the heat exchanger, turn off the power or gas supply to the water heater and then use a brush or a specialized cleaning solution to remove the buildup. This process should be done at least once a year.
In addition to regular maintenance, there are also steps you can take to extend the life of your water heater. One of the most important is to insulate the hot water pipes. Insulating the pipes can help to keep the hot water hot for longer, which can reduce the strain on the water heater and help it last longer. You can purchase pipe insulation at your local home improvement store and cut it to size to fit around your pipes.
Another way to extend the life of your water heater is to lower the temperature of the water. Most water heaters are set to a default temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but this temperature can be lowered to 120 degrees. Lowering the temperature can reduce the amount of stress on the water heater and help it last longer. To change the temperature, locate the thermostat on your water heater and adjust it to the desired setting.
It’s important to note that regular checkups from a professional plumber are also crucial to maintain your water heater and to catch any potential issues early on before they become bigger problems. It’s also recommended to keep the area around the water heater clean and free of debris.