Of all of the appliances in your home, your water heater is probably among the ones you use the most often. It’s also one that you usually pay little to no attention to. That is, unless you’re having problems with it! When everything is running smoothly, you never even have to think about your water heater while it works away in the background. Washing your dishes, showering, doing laundry — so much of what you do around the house relies on your water heater. Taking a few simple preventative care measures can reduce the risk of your water heater leaking. They can also improve its overall efficiency and save you money on your power bill.
We’ve put together this handy guide of 5 simple maintenance tips to keep your water heater running smoothly year round!
1. Perform regular visual inspections.
You don’t need to be a plumbing professional to perform a quick visual inspection of your water heater! An easy way to check for leaks is to inspect the flooring beneath and around your water heater. If you notice water on the floor or new water stains, you might have a leak. You can also visually inspect all of your piping and hose connections for leaks. Check the joints and pipes for rust and cracks. Finally, check the overall tank for any damage, wear and tear, or other issues. Regular visual inspections like this will help you catch any small issues before they turn into costly repairs!
2. Flush your water heater annually.
Draining your water heater allows you to flush out any sediment that may have build up inside. The sediment inside your water heater isn’t harmful, but it can greatly reduce the overall efficiency of the machine overall.
The first step to draining your water heater is to completely disconnect the appliance from power. It’s important that you do this first, electricity and water don’t mix! Then you can disconnect the tank it from its water supply. One you’re SURE that the power and water have been disconnected, you’ll still need to wait a while longer. The water that’s left in the tank needs to cool down before you can drain the tank. Once the water is cooled, you can finally attach a drainage hose to the tank. Drain all of the water and sediment inside. Once this is done, you can refill the tank and hook the power back up! Be sure you don’t turn the heater back on until the tank has filled all the way. This will prevent the heater from working overtime to heat water that isn’t there.
3. Check the temperature.
Most of the time, water heaters are set to reach temperatures you’ll never need in your home. The hottest temperature you’ll likely ever need is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This is sufficient to complete cleaning and sanitization around the home. Despite this, many tanks are set to 140 degrees! Turning down the max temperature will help reduce the risk of scalds and burns, and it’ll save you money as well!
Insulating the pipes that lead into and out of the heater will help put less strain on it. It will also help keep your water hotter for longer. You can insulate the water heater tank for the same reasons. This is an especially useful tip in the wintertime, but you can insulate your water heater any time of year.
If you live in Idaho, you should make sure that your pipes are insulated in the winter! This can help prevent water from freezing in the pipework. Often times, water heater leaks or floods happen when pipes burst from the water inside freezing. Performing the simple task of adding insulation can help reduce the risk of leaks and flooding, as well as improve the heaters overall efficiency.
5. When in doubt, call a plumber.
If you discover any issues with your tank during your regular inspections or DIY fixes, call a professional! While you may be able to handle simple repairs and replacements, it’s always worth calling in a plumber for major issues. Water heaters can be dangerous if you aren’t careful (like we mentioned earlier, they frequently store water up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit!) so it’s worth it to get professional help when you need it.
Looking for more help with your water heater? Check out our post on “How to Deal With Excess Water in Your Water Heater”