Every home needs a water heater, but not all water heaters are created equal. Costs can add up over time – but with a little knowledge on water heater maintenance, they don’t have to.
Here are a few DIY tips to ensure you’re getting the most out of your water heater at the best cost.
1. Annual Draining
When water is pumped through a water heater, it accumulates dirt, sediment and other various minerals, which eventually settle at the bottom of the tank. Rust builds up, eating away at the tank and leading to a premature purchase of an entire, new system. It’s a costly problem but simple to avoid.
Grab your garden hose and gloves and flush that water heater! First, turn off the cold water supply and hook the hose up to the drain valve. Run the system until cloudless, clear water is produced. It should take about a quarter-tank drain to flush out the sediments and debris.
Annually draining your water heater improves the longevity and efficiency of the system and helps the system live out its expected, 15-year life.
2. Temperature Awareness
Temperature plays many important roles in the quality of your water system, so consider these few factors.
Adjust the thermostat to 120 degrees. Every 10-degree decrease saves 5% in energy costs. For gas heaters, check out the “vacation” setting on the thermostat when leaving town.
Discharge the temperature-pressure relief valve two or three times annually and check for leaks.
Insulate an older unit with a fiberglass jacket, along with the hot and cold water pipes. This reduces heat loss by about 45 percent, which reduces your costs.
3. Test the Anode Rod
The viable anode rod keeps hot water from rapidly corroding inside the tank and prevents the insides from rusting.
Examine your rod every three years by removing the hex head screw. You’ll need to replace it if…
- Over six inches of core steel wire is exposed
- The rod is less than ½ inch thick
- The rod is coated with calcium
An anode rod may be small, but it is very important and much cheaper to replace than an entire, new water heater.
Don’t let easy-to-fix water heater maintenance burn a hole in your wallet. Of course, the simplest tip of all would probably be to read the instruction manual before tossing it in the trash… But where’s the fun in that?