Maintenance Tips For Your Water Heater

A poorly maintained water heater will not only increase your monthly energy bills but also lead to even more expensive repairs or replacement down the line. Following these simple steps to keep your water heater in top condition can head off more serious problems before they mature into crises:

* Safety first. Before you do any work on your heater, cut the power to the unit and close the valve of the cold water line. Make sure to wear gloves and goggles.

* Perform routine maintenance every six months on your heater. After prepping the heater as explained above, trip the pressure valve. If the valve does not emit any sounds when opened, replace it immediately. A malfunctioning pressure valve can lead to overpressurization and explosions.

* Next, turn on the hot water somewhere in your house to relieve air pressure, and then open the drain valve to remove any excess water. Remember that this water is scalding hot, so make sure to funnel it through a garden hose to an area that won’t be damaged by the heat. This is called “flushing” the water heater.

* When the heater is drained, check for sediment accumulation. Water contains minute quantities of dissolved minerals and sediments, and these precipitates can build up over time at the bottom of your water heater. Signs of heavy buildup include element burnouts, strange noises, and sulfurous odors emanating from the unit. At least once a year, use a brush and a hose to remove any collected sediments at the bottom of the heater. If you have hard water, consider cleaning the unit more often. Installing a curved dip tube may help prevent heavy sediment accumulation.

* Bacteria can also build up in your heater over time and produce unpleasant odors. Kill these microorganisms by adding bleach to the water in the heater, allowing it to stand, and then flushing the tank.

* The anode rod is a critical part of your water heater, so check it every few months for corrosion. Any flaking or exposed wires indicate it’s time to replace the part. Make sure you have the right rod for the hardness of the water. Magnesium rods work fine with soft water, while harder water requires aluminum or zinc anode rods.

* Always inspect the water heater and its surroundings for any signs of leaks. Leaks can be dangerous and costly, so contact your plumber right away if you detect any.

* In general, don’t ignore warning signs. That banging sound coming from your heater is not normal. Running out of hot water unusually often signals heater issues, as does hot water that smells bad, exhibits odd colors, and carries sediments. Signs of corrosion, such as rust-colored water, are even more urgent. Too many homeowners ignore these problems, hoping that they will go away. This is a recipe for a more expensive bill later. If you feel overwhelmed at the prospect of fixing these problems yourself, call your plumber right away.

Charlies Plumbing and Heating proudly serves the Salinas, Monterey Bay Area 831-442-5750