Why Water Heater Maintenance Is Important

Posted on: November 18, 2016
By: Alan O'Neill
Posted in: Plumbing

Water Heater Maintenance In Houston

Water heater is one of the most critical parts of a home heating system. Some homeowners, however, may not realize the importance of keeping their system clean on a regular basis. Cleaning the hot water system is a critical part of maintaining the unit, though, so homeowners need to learn how to clean their units properly.

Water heaters run via natural gas or electric. Many homeowners are currently using the traditional tank-style heaters. This tank with a heating element is used to store a reservoir full of water.

Water Heater Maintenance At Home

The water heater is something most of us take for granted, until it suddenly stops working. As cold water imposes reality, we desperately dial a plumber or rush off to get a new water heater. All this might be avoided with some regular preventive maintenance.

Water heater maintenance is easy to overlook because the tank just sits there and has no moving parts to worry about. Inside though, two things are constantly attacking your water heater: sediment and rust.

Most steel water heater tanks are lined with glass to prevent rust, but the glass lining is never perfect and constant temperature fluxes cause minute openings. When water eventually penetrates the lining, the tank begins to rust.

Also, the heated water causes calcium carbonate to form. It’s a type of limestone you can probably see inside your old teapot. As it forms, the calcium carbonate settles to the bottom of the tank. In gas-powered tanks, it eventually becomes thick enough to reduce heating efficiency. In electric tanks, it forms a hard crust that renders the element useless.

To keep your water heater operating correctly and extend its life by years, you need to carry out regular maintenance.

How to Drain and Clean the Tank

The first task is to drain the tank at least once a year. This will remove most of the sediment collecting at the bottom of the tank. To drain the tank, follow these steps: 

  1. Shut off gas or electricity to the water heater.
  2. Attach a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank.
  3. Close the incoming cold water valve at the top of the tank. 
  4. Open the pressure relief valve on the tank to break the vacuum.
  5. Open the drain valve on the tank and drain it.
  6. When finished, reverse the process, remembering to not turn on the gas or electricity until the tank has refilled.

If your tank is located in the basement or a low area that prevents gravity flow draining, you can purchase a small electric pump in plumbing shops or large home supply centers. With this, you can pump the water from your tank to an outside drain or to an upstairs sink.

How to Change the Anode Rod

The next crucial part of maintenance, rarely done, is to replace the anode rod in the tank. This rod is a length of magnesium or aluminum that is suspended in the tank and acts like a magnet to attract charged water molecules that would otherwise attack the steel tank. Check it each year when you drain the tank and replace if the steel rods are showing. Rods will usually last five to 10 years without checking, but cleaning them prolongs the life. To replace the rod, which you can buy at a plumbing shop, follow these steps:

  1. Shut off the incoming cold water valve at the top of the tank.
  2. Unscrew the nut on the top of the tank that suspends the anode rod.
  3. Clip on new rod, insert into tank, and retighten the nut.
  4. Open cold water valve again.

How to Replace an Electric Heating Element

If your electric water heater has not been cleaned for years and seems inefficient, check the heating element. This is a rod that screws into the side of the water heater tank. Generally there are two of them, one high and one low. It’s the low one that is usually coated with calcium carbonate. The rod is connected to electrical wires but is still easy to change. Here’s how:

  • Shut off electricity to the water tank.
  • Test that power is off with an inexpensive electrical tester.
  • Shut off the cold water supply valve.
  • Open the pressure relief valve on the tank to break the vacuum. 
  • Connect a hose to the drain valve at the bottom and drain the tank.
  • Open the cover located near the bottom of the tank to expose the heating element. 
  • Disconnect the electrical and ground wires on the heating element.
  • ove the screws that hold the element in place and pull it out.
  • Buy a matching one at a home supply or plumbing center and install.
  • Reverse the above process, remembering not to turn the power on until the tank is full. Read more…

The Importance Of Water Heater Maintenance

Having a basic understanding of your water heater is important for your safety and for the longevity of the unit. It is also essential that annual maintenance is performed by a professional technician to keep it running efficiently and minimize repair issues.Call (713) 812-7070 us for your home service and repair needs.

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