How to Care for Your Water Heater


Hot water heaters work hard for you, providing warm baths, clean clothes, and sparkling pots and pans.

So show your water heater some love by following a routine maintenance schedule that will keep it running for its 15-year expected lifetime, and perhaps beyond.

Here's What You Need To Do:

Adjust the thermostat to 120 degrees. You’ll save up to 5% in energy costs for every 10 degrees you lower the temperature, plus you’ll reduce the risk of scalding.

Always maintain 2 feet of clearance around the appliance unless the manual specifically states otherwise.

Drain about a quarter of the tank a few times a year to remove sediment and debris. Turn off the cold water supply, hook up a garden hose to the drain valve, then run into a bucket until the water is clear. If the water remains cloudy, briefly open the water supply valve to stir up remaining sediment, and drain the tank again. This also makes the unit operate more quietly.

Annually test the temperature-pressure relief valve by quickly discharging it two or three times. Following the testing, keep an eye out for small leaks from the valve.

Examine the sacrificial anode rod every three years by loosening the hex head screw and removing it. Replace the rod if:

  • More than 6 inches of the core steel wire is exposed.

  • The rod is less than 1/2 inch thick.

  • The rod is coated with calcium.

  • You can buy a 13-inch zinc-aluminum anode rod for about $16.

Insulate older units with a fiberglass jacket to improve efficiency, being careful to avoid contact with the flue (newer units already are insulated — check your owner’s manual to make sure). Also, insulate the hot and cold water pipes.

When leaving town, adjust the thermostat on gas heaters to “vacation” setting, which maintains the pilot light without heating the water.


Douglas Trattner has covered home improvement for HGTV.com, DIYNetworks and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He lives in a 1925 Colonial.


If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it with others.


Post Category: Home Improvements & Repair, Home Inspections

Go to Elizabeth Ferrari Blog Contact Elizabeth Ferrari

Join the discussion

To post a comment on this blog post, you must be an HAR Account subscriber, or a member of HAR. If you are an HAR Account subscriber or a member of HAR, please click here to login. If you would like to create an HAR Account account, please click here.

Login to Comment
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the HRIS.
Advertisement

Contact Elizabeth Ferrari

Please limit to 500 characters.

Request Information
Click to view phone
Advertisement

Blog Archive

  • Archive
    •     2021
    •     2020
    •     2019
    •     2018
    •     2016
Advertisement