Like any other appliance in your home, your water heater needs routine maintenance to reach its intended lifespan. Fortunately, water heater maintenance is a relatively easy task for any DIY-oriented homeowner to accomplish. Here are three steps you can take to keep your water heater running like new.
Don't Neglect the Temperature Setting
You can adjust the temperature of your water heater using a dial on the side of the tank. During normal use, most homeowners prefer a temperature of around 120 degrees for a good balance of comfortable water and energy usage. Turning the temperature higher will force your heater to work harder, wasting energy and increasing the rate at which the internal components of the heater wear down over time.
If you will be away from your home for a few days, you should consider turning the temperature dial as low as possible. Allowing your water heater to "take a break" while you are away will extend its life and will often provide a significant decrease in your monthly heating bill.
Test the Pressure Valve
The water in your water heater tank expands and partially evaporates as it heats up, creating high pressure inside of the tank. In the event that the tank becomes overpressurized, the temperature-pressure-release (TPR) valve on the side of your tank is designed to relieve pressure to prevent damage to the tank.
If the TPR valve fails to perform its function, extensive damage can occur to your water heater along with anything in the surrounding area. It is important to test the valve at least every six months to avoid expensive repairs and water heater replacement. To test the valve, turn off the power to your water heater and close the cold water supply valve. Place a bucket under the TPR valve and open it for a few seconds. If water continues to run out of the TPR valve after you let go of it, it is time to replace the valve.
Flush Your Water Heater
The water that flows into your home contains the mineral calcium carbonate, among other minerals. Heating water in your water heater causes calcium carbonate to separate from the water and sink to the bottom. This sediment reduces the efficiency of your heater by creating an insulative layer between the water and the heating elements. Over time, sediment can also create clogs in the water line and your heater's valves.
The best way to prevent sediment from damaging your heater is to flush the water out of the tank at least once per year. To flush the tank, once again, shut off the power and supply line, connect a garden hose to the drain valve, and run the hose outdoors. Open the TPR valve and leave the drain valve open until water stops running out of the garden hose.
Keep these tips in mind so you can keep your water heater running like new for years to come and avoid paying for unnecessary repairs. Contact a company like Winters Heating Cooling if you have any questions.