Maintenance Tips To Make Your Water Heater Last Longer

Water heaters provide an essential function of allowing you to access hot water inside your home. But like any other appliance, water heaters need replacement over time. But establishing a maintenance plan can help you extend the life of your water heater, help it work more efficiently and keep you from having to speed dial plumbers for repairs.

Routine Damage Checks

Every month or two, do a visual check of the exterior of the water heater to make sure there's no damage beginning. Look for signs of moisture on and around the tank that shouldn't be present. Try and trace the origin of the moisture to see if it's the actual heater or one of the neighboring pipes.

Regardless of the source of the leak, it's best to call a professional immediately to fix the damage while its still a minor problem. A plumber or water heater repair person can diagnose and spot fix the problem quickly and with professional equipment you wouldn't have at your disposal.

Drain Your Tank

The water that enters your water heater tanks carries along tiny bits of sediment material. Over time, that sediment can start building up within the tank and impair its function. Draining the tank at least once a year can help prevent sediment buildup.

How do you drain the tank? It's best to consult with manufacturers to make sure you're doing it correctly for your tank. But there are some general tips for the draining process.

You need to turn off all of the water supplies coming into the tank before draining. This can involve shutting off a breaker, draining faucets and changing settings if it's a gas unit. Again, consult your owner's manual for details. You can then attach a hose to the drain valve of the unit.

Make sure the open end of the hose is pointed somewhere that's safe to get wet, such as your side yard or driveway. Wait until water stops running out of the hose then turn back on the water supply. This will flush out any sediment clinging to the inside of the tank. Once this water runs clear, you're done draining.

Make sure you turn the drain valve back off once you've detached the pipe. Check that all of your water settings are back on so you don't experience a service interruption.

Check and Replace Anode Rod

Water heaters are made out of metal, which can corrode over time. But your heater has a couple of design features meant to delay corrosion as long as possible. One of these features is a long metal rod that hangs inside the tank.

An anode rod essentially works as a sediment magnet to try and keep corrosive materials off the walls of the tank. But anode rods can become overwhelmed with sediment over time and thus have a lifespan of about five years.

You will want to check your rod at least once every five years to see if it needs replacing. Consult your manual for directions on accessing the rod. If your water heater isn't working as efficiently, check the rod earlier to see if it has become overwhelmed.