145 STEDMAN STREET • CHELMSFORD, MA 01824
Posted Wednesday, August 5, 2015.
Water heaters are an important part of our lives. We usually take them for granted until the first time we find icy water awaiting us in the shower. It’s a chilly reminder that we need to take care of our water heater.
There are two primary factors when it comes to getting the most out of your water heater. The first is the quality of the unit itself. A shoddy unit will not last as long as a quality water heater. So be sure to do your research and get the highest quality water heater you can reasonably afford.
The second factor is regular maintenance. Water heaters don’t have many moving parts, but they still require periodic inspection, repair, and part replacement. Performing regular maintenance on your water heater is the best thing you can do for its longevity after your initial purchase. Here are some important but easy-to-check items.
Your water heater’s age.
Water heaters, just like everything else, get old and eventually fail. A quality, well-maintained heater will last around 10 years. Lower the quality or the maintenance and you’ll see your heater failing before the decade is up. The month and year of manufacture is often coded into the serial number, and the code can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. A quick web search will point you in the right direction to reading this code and determining the age of your water heater.
If your heater is just a handful of years old, that’s great! If it’s nearing the decade mark, you may want to do some more research into how that model holds up over time.
The sacrificial anode rod.
This is a steel wire coated in aluminum or magnesium which helps keep your water heater’s tank from rusting. Over time, the aluminum or magnesium outer is eaten away, exposing the steel wire (hence the ‘sacrificial’ in the name). This rod should be replaced if either there is more than 6 inches of steel exposed, the entire rod is less than ½ inch thick, or the rod is coated in calcium. Fortunately, these rods are a cheap replacement: typically running less than $20.
The temperature-pressure release valve.
This valve helps relieve excess pressure from your water heater, and should be checked at least every three years. The check is pretty simple: carefully discharge it a few times. Since it’s so simple, there’s not much reason to not check it whenever you do maintenance.
Sediment buildup in your tank.
As water sits, minerals from the water source can settle to the bottom of your tank. Over time, this can form a hefty deposit in your tank, causing extra wear and tear. Deposits accumulate at an accelerated rate in areas with hard water.
The way you check for sediment in your heater tank is the same way you fix it: flush the tank. You’ll need to let the tank cool in order to do this. There’s a reason we’re talking about water heater maintenance in the summer-- shutting off the water heater in the winter has a host of inconveniences attached to it. Once the heater has cooled, shut the cold water feed and attach a garden hose to the drain spout. Run the hose to a convenient drain location, making sure that the end of the hose ends at a lower elevation than the spout. Open a hot water source in your home (e.g., the kitchen sink) and then open the drain valve. Let the tank drain until the water becomes clear. Once it does, close the valve, open the cold water feed for a little bit. This will kick up any remaining sediment. Open the valve again and let it run until clear.
Once the water looks clean, you’re good! Close the valve, detach the hose, open the cold water feed, and turn off the hot water spout in the kitchen. Then turn the heat back on.
There are more steps to optimal water heater maintenance, but these are the ones that are most important for you as an owner. These will help you in making informed choices about your water heater, while extending its life.
A professional inspection of your water heater will reveal any signs of danger, wear and tear, and help you to determine whether to repair or replace your water heater. Nazzaro & Sons Plumbing & Heating are an expert water heater repair service, with years of experience in homes just like yours, working on water heaters old and new for nearly 20 years. Our professional crew will come to your home for water heater maintenance, repair, and replacement services. Call us today at (978) 256-3586 or get in touch online to schedule a service call.