Many people purchase a conventional tank water heater and simply forget about it until it stops working and it’s time to replace it. However, with a few simple water heater maintenance steps you can increase the lifespan of the unit while also making it work more efficiently. Here are three maintenance steps to take:
1. Flush the water heater tank once a year
Almost all water heater manufacturers will recommend flushing the water heater tank annually. But draining alone does not flush the water heater!
Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct procedure for draining your model of water heater. For example this is from a Bradford White model water heater’s instructions:
INSTRUCTIONS TO FLUSH THE WATER HEATER
- On a gas water heater, turn the gas valve to the off position. On an electric water heater, turn the electric off to the heater.
- Shut the cold water off to the water heater.
- Open a hot water faucet.
- Connect a hose to the drain valve on the heater and run to a drain.
- Open the drain valve and allow the tank to completely drain.
- Turn back on the cold water into the water heater.
- Allow the water to run through the water heater and out of the drain valve. Do this for approximately five (5) or ten (10) minutes.
- Close the drain valve and allow the tank to refill, keeping the hot water faucet open. When water comes out of the faucet, the tank is full.
2. Check the anode rod and replace it if it’s badly corroded
The anode rod hangs in the tank to help prevent its inside from rusting out. It should be checked annually when the tank is drained. Replacing a badly corroded rod is far cheaper than replacing the water heater. Without a good anode rod, hot water will rapidly corrode the inside of the tank, shortening its life.
3. Insulate the water heater tank
This is a step you only have to do once. Wrapping your water heater in a blanket of insulation can improve it’s efficiency up to 40 percent.