How to Maintain Your Water Heater for Optimal Performance and Efficiency?
If you have a tanked water heater at home, you already know how indispensable it can be for heating and storing water during winter. Structurally, a tanked water heater consists of an insulated tank that can hold a specific volume of water. Although it is usually made of corrosion-resistant materials (1), some degree of wear and tear can always be expected.
There are heating elements, such as a heat pump, valve, and other components inside the tank, that heat the water to the desired temperature. All these components of the heater are prone to damage, which is why regular maintenance is imperative for their optimal performance and energy efficiency.
When it comes to water heater maintenance, people make the honest mistake of proceeding without having adequate know-how. For achieving optimal performance and energy efficiency, we recommend you familiarize yourself with the water heater maintenance process. Let’s take you through some important guidelines in this blog.
#1 Set the water heater at an appropriate temperature
It is important to set the temperature of your water heater with safety and energy efficiency in mind. For most households, the recommended temperature setting is 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius). Going beyond this could lead to wasted energy and potentially hazardous scalding. To avoid any future issues, be sure to familiarize yourself with the local water heater codes(2).
#2 Check the insulation of the tank and pipes
To ensure optimal performance and energy efficiency of your water heater, regularly inspect its insulation. Many modern models come with pre-installed insulation, while older ones may require replacement. For this purpose, you can acquire an insulation blanket or jacket specifically tailored to water heaters from a hardware store or online shop. The insulation of your hot water heater can improve energy efficiency and reduce thermal loss, leading to substantial savings and consistent temperatures.
#3 Check the pressure relief valve
The pressure relief valve of a hot water heater, also known as the safety valve, is essential to prevent explosions and ruptures. Its primary purpose is to regulate the temperature and pressure levels within the tank by releasing any excess pressure. To guarantee optimal performance, it is recommended to frequently inspect the valve by lifting its lever and allowing some water out. If the valve does not properly discharge water, it should be replaced immediately for the safety of the water heater. A professional plumbing company can recommend the right valve replacement if required.
#4 Purge the tank
There are many reasons why proper maintenance of a water heater is essential to ensure its efficiency and performance. Over time, sediments and minerals can accumulate in the tank and damage components, such as the heat pump or valve. Not flushing these objects out can bring down their efficiency and performance greatly. To prevent this, you should flush the tank regularly. However, before doing so, it is important to turn off the power supply and allow any stored water to cool down. A garden hose can then be connected to the drain valve for flushing the tank. For safety reasons, refer to the instruction manual of the water heater and seek professional assistance from a plumbing company where necessary.
#5 Check the anode rod
It is essential to inspect the anode rod of your water heater every two to three years, as its purpose is to attract corrosive materials that could damage the lining of the tank. Generally, an anode rod is composed of either aluminum, magnesium, or a combination of metals and is designed to wear away to protect the water heater from corrosion. To ensure optimal performance, it is recommended to flush the tank and examine the anode rod for signs of deterioration. On flushing, if you find the rod has corroded by more than 50% of its original size or if the steel core is visible, just replace it. Doing so can help extend the lifespan of the water heater and avoid costly repairs.
Calling for professional assistance
Are you having difficulty with a decrease in the hot water supply or no hot water at all? Changes in the water temperature or an inability to maintain it at a consistent level could be caused by a defective thermostat or other internal components.
Also, is your water heater rumbling, popping, or banging? It could be an indication of sediment accumulation in the container or heat pump or other potential issues that can be swiftly addressed. If there is any water leakage around the water heater or its connections, it should be taken care of immediately. Professional assistance is available to restore your hot water quickly and efficiently.
If your water heater is approaching or exceeding its expected lifespan (typically around 10-15 years), it is wise to have it inspected by a professional. We at O’Grady Plumbing can help you with that. Our expert plumbers can assess its condition, identify any potential issues, and advise on whether replacement or repairs are necessary. Give us a call today!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is involved in water heater maintenance?
If you decide to hire a professional for water heater maintenance, here are some things you can expect:
- Temperature and pressure testing
- Repair and replacement
Why hire a professional technician for water heater maintenance?
Having a professional technician inspect and maintain your water heater can help you get the most out of your appliance. They can make sure that it’s running optimally, so you’ll never run out of hot water when you need it. With regular maintenance, you can make sure that your water heater continues to provide you with reliable hot water for years to come!
Should you repair or replace a water heater?
Deciding whether to repair or replace your water heater should be assessed carefully. Factors such as the age of the unit, the cost of repairs, and the overall condition should all be taken into consideration. Generally speaking, if your water heater is more than 10-15 years old, it may be more cost-effective and practical to purchase a new one. It’s highly recommended that you consult with a professional plumber before making any decisions.