You have not thought about your hot water heater in a long time. Why would you? It works seemingly endlessly and reliably for you year after year. You may grumble a bit when the fourth person in your home is out of hot water for a shower, but you know that your system is working well. That is, until it stops working. You may need to replace it now or you may just need repairs. What you need to know, though, about your water heater, is that you can take a few simple steps on a regular basis to maintain it. That will mean not having to worry about running out of water again. What can you do to extend the life of your water heater?
#1. Inspect the exterior of the tank
Most of the time, water heaters can last for a decade or more and provide pretty reliable service. It is easy to forget about them or their repair needs. A good place to start is with a visual inspection of the tank itself. You are specifically looking for exterior moisture or signs of rust. If present, these can pose a significant risk to your tank over the long term. You’ll want to call in an experienced plumber to handle these concerns. Make sure there are never any signs of moisture on the exterior of your tank each time you check it.
#2. Check the pressure release valve
Generally located on the top or side of your tank is a pressure release valve. This valve has the job of releasing excess pressure should it build up inside your tank. It should automatically work. To check it, simply open the valve. It should allow water to come out. Replace the valve if it does not. If you notice that the valve is leaking, it is a good idea to replace it as well.
#3. Consider your energy bill
When it comes down to it, you may need to replace your water heater in Houston. This can happen for many reasons, but one of the key reasons to make the investment in a new valve is when it is no longer efficient. Energy efficiency for hot water tanks will range significantly from brand, size, and age. However, models that are more than 10 to 15 years old are often far less efficient than current models on the market. Upgrading to a newer, more efficient model will likely save you money over the long term and it may end up paying for itself as well.
#4. Drain out sediment from the bottom
In many situations, water heaters will build up a small amount of sediment at the base of the system. To do this, simply place a bucket under the drain located at the bottom of the tank. Once in place, open the drain valve slightly – do this slowly to avoid creating a lot of water loss. Then, let the water run out until it is clear. You should see it clear up within a few seconds. Once there are no more sediments coming out, be sure to tighten the drain when. Remember, this is hot water!
#5. Adjust the dial
If you want to reduce some of your energy use, it is a good idea to reduce the dial on your hot water tank a bit. The optimum level for most systems is 120 degrees, but you can adjust the dial as you need to do so. If you are noticing that the temperature is not as warm as it used to be, it may be because the thermostat is not working. You can replace it inexpensively.
#6. Have an annual inspection
Hire a professional plumber to come to your home at least one time per year to inspect your water heater. This one step can help you to avoid the need to replace your tank too often. The professional will look for signs of wear and tear, help you with efficiency, and handle the draining of sediment if needed.
#7. If you have to buy one, look at the warranty
While you may be tempted to focus just on the water heater replacement cost, you also need to think about the warranty in place on the system. In most cases, a long term warranty is available and it can help you to reduce the amount of risk you have of having to replace the system too soon.
#8. Change out your shower heads
Are you finding that you are going through a lot more water than you used to? No matter what the cause is, you can control the flow better by installing low-flow shower heads. By doing this, you will be getting what seems to be the same amount of hot water, but it will be less. This can help to reduce the energy costs you have, too.
#9. Protect it during the winter months
Another prevention tip is to protect your water heater during the winter months. If the temperatures are going to get very low, you do not want to risk having a pipe burst or the pipes freeze. You can use a space heater in the area where water pipes are coming into the home. You can also have a professional install a protective cover over the pipes.
#10. Always call a pro
The most important step to take when it comes to maintaining your water heater is to let a licensed plumber handle any repairs that become necessary over the lifetime of the system. Choose one that has experience and is certified from the manufacturer of your specific model. Get to know this professional, too. In doing so, you’ll be able to ensure any repairs or risks are handled right away reducing the need to have your hot water tank replaced too often.
Ultimately, you may need to replace your hot water heater at some point. However, with the right professionals by your side and the right preventative maintenance over the lifetime of your system, you’ll reduce those instances in which you have to deal with a lack of hot water. It only takes a few minutes to check out this system every month to ensure it is working the way it should. That can give you peace of mind, too.
Sandy B. is a published author and dedicated web content writer who specializes in home improvement blogs and website content.