A hot water heater is generally not a piece of household mechanics to which you give much thought. However, when it breaks or malfunctions, you will wish you had taken the time to go over this handy list of preservation tips. Here are 5 things you should check regularly to keep this unsung hero of household comfort running well.

Inspect for Leaks

This includes checking for water leakage and natural gas. Take some time to inspect all the plumbing joints for signs of corrosion. Put your nose to work investigating flex hose and couplings to make sure you don’t smell any natural gas. Additionally, ensure that the area is free from combustible materials near the flame.

Check Water Pressure

The water heater pressure relief valve (TPR) is an important safety component of a water heater, and a malfunction can have disastrous consequences. Rheem recommends testing the valve every six months. To check your water pressure, make sure the pressure relief valve opens and closes freely. Be sure to place a bucket below the discharge tube or into a floor drain. After lifting the valve, hot water will flush through the valve and its discharge tube. Also, take a moment to turn the hot water on at a nearby faucet and listen for any unusual noises. If water does not flow freely when the valve is opened or you hear unusual noises, the pressure relief valve should be replaced. If you find that you have problems with your valve, then you will need to call in a professional.

Check Water Temperature

Test the temperature to make sure that it is heating to the desired warmth. Most people keep water heaters at a much higher setting than is necessary. In addition to being a huge waste of energy, it can create a risk of scalding. The recommended setting for most homes is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have small children, consult your doctor to see the ideal temperature for your heater to prevent burns. Another great tip is to turn your water heater to vacation mode when are out of town for an extended period of time. To check your water temperature run hot water at the tap closest to the water heater for at least three minutes. Then fill a glass and check the temperature. If the water is above 120 degrees, adjust the dial, wait about three hours and check again. For a final test, check the temperature the following morning, before anyone uses hot water.

Inspect the Anode Rod

If you have an older hot water heater, it is important to check the anode rod once a year to ensure that there are no holes or excessive mineral build-up. The anode rod is the most important factor in determining the life of your water heater. An anode rod is a steel core wire surrounded with one of three different metals often causing corrosion when mixed with water. In order to check the condition of the anode rod, it will have to be removed from the tank. Whether reinstalling an existing, still-good anode rod or installing a new replacement for it, this can easily be done on a DIY basis or with an inspection from an HVAC technician.

Flush Your Tank

Twice a year take some time to open the spigot on your water heater and drain several gallons from the tank. In order to flush your water heater, a hose will have to be put into the tank itself. All of the water will be drained out, but what’s important is that all of the sediment and mineral buildup within that tank is flushed away. This simple step will prevent sediment from forming into a solid mass. Sediment buildup in the tank can reduce your water heater’s energy efficiency and also clog your water lines. If you are unsure of the correct procedure for draining your hot water heater, contact a professional.

Call the Professionals

If you find that your hot water heater is not operating at peak efficiency, it might be time to purchase a new one. Contact the experts at Sturm Heating & Air Conditioning. We offer a full line of conventional and tankless water heaters from top brands including Ruud, Rheem, AO Smith, Rinnai, and Navien.

Sturm Heating & Air Conditioning

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