8 Tips for Maintaining Water Heaters

July 3, 2015 - Tips, Water Heater
8 Tips for Maintaining Water Heaters


Whether you own a traditional tank water heater, a tankless or a hybrid, good care and maintenance will save you money and protect your investment for years to come. Here are just ten tips and ideas for keeping your water heater in top working condition.

#1 Prepping your Water Heater

Make sure the on-off switch is turned to the off position.

Disconnect the water to the tank by turning off the valve on the cold water line, which is usually found on the top. The cold water line is typically situated on the right hand side.

Now, go inside the house and put one of the tap faucets fully into the open position. This will release any air pressure from inside the tap.

Once you’ve done that, go back to the water heater and open the drain valve, which usually found near the bottom of the unit. You’ll find this because it looks similar to a hose bibb. Allow at least a gallon or more to drain out of the unit.

Make sure nobody in the house is trying to use any hot water at this point.

#2 Check the clearance above the water heater

Anode bars are going to be approximately the same height as the tank itself. It’s not uncommon for the space between the ceiling and the top of the unit to be so tight that the entire anode rod cannot be removed. Regardless, lift the anode bar up the extent that you can. Check it to see if there’s any chipping on the surface of the bar or if any of its center wire is uncovered. If not, then you can go ahead and reinstall the anode bar without any further treatment. The majority of anode bar issues happen near the top since this is where most of the hot water is contained.

In the event that you have to remove the anode bar, use the heater’s opening to bend it in the middle and then pull it out. To put in the replacement, just reverse the process by essentially curving it in the center again and straighten it out at the opening. On the off chance that the anode top is unbalanced when you attempt to fasten it, pull it half way again and do your best to straighten it to the best of your ability.

In the event that the space above the heater is short of 2 feet, purchase a link-type anode bar. It has “wiener-style” connections of metal joined together and its fairly simple to install.

#3 Selecting anodes and replacement anodes

Generally, you will find only three varieties of metals from which anode bars are made: magnesium, aluminum, and zinc. If your water is on the soft side, it’s recommended that you go with a magnesium anode. Aluminum is better for water that’s hard or that has been heavily treated with salt for softening. If you’ve found your existing anode rod to be seriously deteriorated, it best to go ahead and replace it. If you were to use a magnesium anode upon discovering an intensely decayed anode, it could result in a negative response in the water and cause pressure to discharge out of the faucets.

In the off chance that you have to use an aluminum anode pole, make sure that you make any plans to use the hot water for cooking. Recent scientific reports have shown that aluminum in the water has been linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s in some people, so don’t use any of this water for human consumption.

It’s unusual to find zinc anodes already installed in your water heater. They are used to offset the smell of sulfur in the water. And keep in mind, that zinc anodes only contain about 10% actual zinc, with the rest being made of aluminum. So, as a general rule of thumb, don’t consume any water heated with these anodes either. One way to tell the type of anode pole you have is whether the bar bends easily when you grasp it. If it does, it’s probably aluminum, but if not, it’s probably magnesium.

Two feet is about the normal protective current for most anodes. That’s why it’s best to purchase anode poles that are relatively tall for your water radiator. You can always chop them down in the event that you have more than what you need, but, if you can, you should always plan to purchase anodes that are more than 3 feet and 8 inches.

#4 Adding an additional anod pole

On the off chance that your unit has an exposed hexagonal-molded head on top of it, you can add an alternate anode bar to be on the safe side. If there is a hex-head, take that and just remove the hot water outlet, which is the pipe on the left hand side. This is the place where you can include a combination anode rod. You’ll want to make sure that it has a brass nipple that’s 2 to 6 inches in length. It’s strongly advised that you employ a professional plumber to do this part or research online for data about anode poles. If you decide to do it yourself, be forwarned; this is not a simple task.

#5 Getting rid of the accumulated sediment

If you have an accumulation of sediment in your tank, there are three general indicators you should look for: an electric water heater will have a lower burnout of the element, a preponderance of noises coming off of a gas water heater, or a a really nasty smell coming from either type of water heater.

If the sediment accumulates too much, the heating element below will get covered and won’t be able to properly heat up the water. A good indication that you have excessive sediment build up is if your hot water runs out prematurely.

Water heaters that that use gas get are most likely to get a build up of sediment down at the bottom where the gas burner heats up the burner plate. Water can get totally covered in sediment and converts into a super-heated steam. This expansive steam can make quite a bit of noise when the pressure is released. Another good indicator that you’ve sediment accumulation is that you notice the smell of sulfur due to the build up of sediment and bacteria.

To deal with these issues, put in a bended dip tube. You can additionally have your plumber utilize a popular but pricey Muck-vac device. Dissolving the silt is an alternate choice. Likewise, on the off chance that you have an electric water warmer, you can utilize a shopvac to suck the silt out through the easier warming component. The how-to of these methodologies is in the next section.

#6 Install a bended dip tube and flush the tank

When you purchase your system, it typically comes with a straight dip tube. The dip tube is the bit of plastic pipe inside your heating unit that reaches out from the highest point of the water radiator’s cold water delta to the base. The idea is to get the coldest water close to the lowest part where it might be warmed up quickly. Sediment collects at the lowest part of the tank and does not move hardly at all except where the dip tube reaches out to at the base. The water leaving the tube forces the sediment out. Attempting to wash the residue out of the channel valve on the outside of the unit isn’t recommended.

Introducing a bended dip tube where the lowest part of the tube bends to a ninety degree angle, causes the bottom of the water radiator to be cleared by the oncoming cold water. Silt is kept in suspension in the water. Opening the channel valve and letting chilly water enter the tank for 5 minutes can clear up a considerable measure of residue.

Introducing a bended dip tube begins by unscrewing the top. It’s the channel on top of the water radiator on the right hand side. Stick a bended took care of set of forceps in the opening of the cold water bay and turn the dip tube up and out of the water radiator. Get the dip tube sufficiently high and you can haul it out by hand. On the off chance that this doesn’t work and the gap is corroded, scratch the rust away first. Take the new bended dip tube and imprint it at the top as an afterthought that the bend focuses. Wrap the highest point of the bended dip tube where you will be fastening it at the top with teflon tape about eight times. Embed the bended dip tube and point it so water will swirl along the side of the tank.

The channel valve is placed on the outside of the water heater at the base. Be sure that it’s completely open when emptying the tank.

# 7 Clearing out build up with a vac

Employ a handyman to utilize this instrument to evacuate the silt from your water heater. The device is tricky and takes some knowledge on the most proficient method of utilization. This is the most efficient technique of removing build up there is.

#8 Clean and secure the water heater

Always be sure after performing any maintenance on your tank water heater that you do a thorough clean up of the unit and tightly secure all connections, pipes and screws. Make sure there is no loose debris or other articles touching or close to the tank. Safety is very important and doing these last tasks helps to ensure a safe and secure water heater for future use.

How to Maintain an Electric Water Heater – This Old House

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