- 07 Jun
Extend Your Water Heater’s Lifespan
A few minutes of preventive maintenance on your water heater each year will go a long way to keep the hot water going, maintain the safety and efficiency of your water, and extend the lifespan of your water heater as well.
Before you begin, here are a few tools that are required: rags, slip joint pliers, plumbers tape and a bucket. In addition, you may also need a pressure relief valve (only if the old one leaks).
So, how long is a typical water heater’s lifespan? Most water heaters will last about 10 years, sometimes even more, with little or no care or maintenance at all. But if you spend a few minutes of maintenance on your water heater once a year, it will really pay off by extending the tank’s life span, and maintaining the water heater’s safety and efficiency too.
Here are some water heater repair tips to help keep it going strong, with a few basic steps.
Step 1: Check the pressure-relief valve. Test the valve located on the top or side of the water heater. The valve opens automatically if the pressure inside the tank gets too high, but excessive pressure can cause the tank to explode. In order to test it, place your bucket below the discharge pipe on your water heater tank and then slowly lift the lever on the pressure-relief valve.
If needed, replace the valve if the valve does not release water when you lift the lever. Replacing it is simple too. Turn off the water, then drain the tank, unscrew the discharge pipe and then unscrew the old valve. Wrap the threads of the new valve with sealant tape and screw it in. If the valve is many years old and has never been tested, it may leak after you test it. If that happens, just replace the valve.
Be sure to check your work when completed. Close the shutoff valve on the cold water supply pipe that feeds the water heater. Then turn on the hot water at any faucet to release the pressure inside the heater’s tank. Next learn the faucet on until you finish your work. If you have an electric heater, turn off the power at the main panel, but with a gas heater, turn the gas control dial to off.
Step 2: Don’t forget to drain sediments from the water heater tank to flush out sediments that have settled on the bottom of the tank. Sediment buildup really shortens the life of the water heater and also adds to your energy bill by reducing its efficiency as well. But draining 2-3 gallons of water is usually enough to flush out sediments. Always let the water flow until you don’t see particles in the bucket anymore. Open the drain valve slowly and let the water run until it is free of sediments and it is clear.
Step 3: Don’t be concerned about groaning and gurgling noises coming from the water heater. That is just air entering the system as water drains out. If the drain valve will not close tightly when you are done, just fully drain the tank, unscrew the old valve and screw in a new one. To restart the water heater, open the shutoff valve and let the hot water run at any faucet to purge air from the system. Then relight the pilot or turn on the power.
Lastly, set your water heater’s dial to 120 degrees F. Check the water temperature with a cooking thermometer if the dial doesn’t have numbers. Higher temperatures will increase sediment buildup and the risk of scalding injuries.
About the Author
My journey as a Cleveland home inspector began 15 years ago when I was buying real estate properties in Ohio. Because they were my investments, I wanted to make sure I was getting a great deal, so I decided to learn everything I could about general home inspections.