Hot Water Heater Maintenance Tips

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Admit it, your hot water heater is not something you think about very often. Until that is, you turn on the faucet to wash dishes and get only lukewarm water, step into an icy cold shower on a freezing winter morning, or find your basement is now the family swimming pool. Then you’re going to wish you gave this equipment more attention. Here are a few things you can do to keep this household workhorse running well.

Inspect for Leaks 

This includes checking for water leakage as well as oil or natural gas.  Inspect all the plumbing joints for signs of corrosion. If you have a gas-fired heater, it’s important to check the flex hose and couplings to make sure you don’t smell any gas. Additionally, ensure that the area is free from combustible materials near the flame.

Check Water Pressure

The water heater pressure relief valve is an important safety component of a water heater. Experts recommend testing the valve every six months. To check your water pressure, make sure the pressure relief valve opens and closes freely.  Place a bucket below the discharge tube or into a floor drain. After lifting the valve, hot water will flush through the valve and its discharge tube. Also, take a moment to turn the hot water on at a nearby faucet and listen for any unusual noises. If water does not flow freely when the valve is opened or you hear unusual noises, the pressure relief valve should be replaced. If there is a problem with your valve, you may need to call in a professional.

Check Water Temperature

Test the temperature to make sure that it is heating to the desired warmth. Most people keep water heaters at a much higher setting than is necessary. In addition to being a huge waste of energy and money, there’s a risk of scalding. The recommended setting for most homes is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have small children, consult your doctor to see the ideal temperature for your heater to prevent burns. To check your water temperature, run hot water at the tap closest to the water heater for at least three minutes. Then fill a glass and check the temperature with a cooking thermometer. If the water is above 120 degrees, adjust the dial, wait about three hours and check again.

Inspect the Anode Rod

Experts recommend checking the anode rod every three years. If you have an older hot water heater, it is important to check the anode rod once a year to ensure that there are no holes or excessive mineral build-up. An anode rod is usually an aluminum or magnesium probe that collects corrosive elements and should be replaced when caked or eaten away.

In order to check the condition of the anode rod, it will have to be removed from the tank. Replace the rod if: More than 6 inches of the core steel wire is exposed, the rod is less than 1/2 inch thick or if the rod is coated with calcium. Checking and reinstalling an existing, still-good anode rod, or installing a new replacement, can easily be done on a DIY basis or during an annual inspection by a Levco professional technician.

Flush your tank

Drain the tank to flush out sediments that have settled to the bottom of the tank. Sediment buildup shortens the life of your water heater and adds to your energy bill by reducing its efficiency. Draining 2 or 3 gallons of water is usually enough to flush out sediments, but you should let the water flow until you no longer see particles. Open the drain valve slowly and let the water run into a bucket until it’s clear and free of sediments.

Levco is Fairfield County’s premier provider of Heating & Cooling service as well as Fuel Oil Delivery. Don’t forget to “Like” our page on Facebook to stay up-to-date with maintenance tips and reminders, as well as promotions and weather alerts!

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