It’s easy to take a water heater for granted, as they just sit there with no moving parts and rarely even making noise. However, when they break, they are expensive and a hassle to replace. Get the most out of your water heater by using these five tips to help prevent malfunction.
1. Drain and Clean the Tank
The heating and reheating of water causes calcium carbonate to form at the bottom of the container, much like in a tea kettle. In gas water heaters, this reduces efficiency, while in electric ones it can create a hard crust over the element and render it useless. Draining and cleaning the tank once a year helps keep this from happening.
2. Change the Anode Rod
The anode rod is made of magnesium or aluminum and is inside the tank acting like a magnet for charged water particles. The particles would attack the tank if not for this rod. The rod can last up to ten years, but can last longer with regular cleaning.
3. Replace Electric Heating Element
In an electric water heater that hasn’t been cleaned regularly, the lower heating element may become crusted over with deposits. You can replace this heating element fairly easily and increase the life of the water heater, as well as its efficiency.
4. Test the Pressure Release Valve Regularly
The valve is usually located on a pipe that points down to keep hot water from spraying out if it releases accidentally. Test the valve’s ability to release about once a year to make sure it isn’t clogged with calcium carbonate. If the valve doesn’t shut off after being released or doesn’t release at all, then it is likely clogged.
5. Insulate Electric Water Heaters and Check Gas Ones
This helps keep the water hotter longer and helps increase the life of the heating element by not having it work as hard. Check gas heaters regularly to make sure nothing is blocking or damaging the venting areas. Keep flammable or corroded objects away from the water heater. Check the gas pilot light to make sure it is some combination of blue and green and not yellow.
Water heater maintenance is usually fairly easy to DIY, but sometimes contacting a company such as Alberta Water Services is necessary to troubleshoot or perform a more complex repair. It is always better to catch water heater problems early before they lead to more severe damage.