We don’t think we need to tell you just how important your water heater is to living comfortably. Let’s be realistic, no one likes taking a cold shower. That is why we believe you should know how to perform these three tasks to maintain your water heater. It is important to note the tasks below refer to traditional electric or gas heaters, not the newer tankless versions.
Checking Anode Rod
Every water heater has an anode rod. It is a long metal rod that is inserted into the water heater tank. The anode rod serves one function: to ensure no rust accumulates on the tank. Because the rod is attached to the tank, it collects all of the rust instead.
The anode rod will degrade over time, sometimes wearing down to the wire at its core. Once it reaches that point of degradation, it won’t be able to protect the tank anymore. The rule of thumb is to replace the anode rod once it’s less than ½ inch thick or is completely coated with calcium.
Checking Pressure Valve
Pressure valves are safety features. In the event the tank over pressurizes, the valve opens to relieve the pressure. If the valve is unable to function correctly, the overpressurization in the tank builds, sometimes resulting in an explosion.
Follow the steps below to ensure your pressure valve is functioning correctly:
- Turn off the electricity or gas to your water heater, as well as the cold water inlet into the tank.
- Then place a bucket under the pressure valve and pull the trip lever. You should hear a slight rush of air or see vapor escape the valve. If you do not hear or see anything, drain the tank and replace the pressure valve.
- Don’t forget to turn back on the cold water inlet and the electricity or gas.
Flushing the Tank
It is normal for sediment to build in your water tank over time, especially if you use hard water in your plumbing. If the sediment is left undisturbed, it can completely insulate the bottom of your tank. The buildup affects your heater’s efficiency and can lead to clogs in your water line.
Follow the steps below to properly drain your water heater:
- Turn off the electricity or gas to your water heater, and the cold water inlet into the tank.
- Connect a garden hose to the tank’s drain valve and place the other end of the hose in an area where the hot water can drain without harming anything.
- Ensuring the pressure relief valve is open, open the drain valve and allow the tank to drain completely.
- Close the tank’s drain valve, disconnect the hose, and close the pressure relief valve. Then, proceed to open all of the hot water spigots in your home and turn back on the cold water inlet to the tank.
- Close the spigots as water begins to flow to them. After all have been shut off, turn back on the electricity or gas to your water heater.