Water Heater Maintenance
Water heater maintenance will ensure the extended life expectancy of your system. Whether you have an electric, solar-powered, or gas water heater, it will require regular maintenance for optimum performance, durability, and efficiency.
Almost all causes of premature failure and water heater leaking can be avoided by proper maintenance. However, you should consult the owners’ manual before undertaking any servicing tasks yourself.
The primary cause of premature failure is internal corrosion and rust in the storage tank. These tanks corrode and rust rapidly due to high heat, electrical conductivity, and exposure to oxygen. They have an internal steel lining that comes with a protective glass coating, which, over time, develops flaws. This coating does not satisfactorily protect many essential fixtures. A metal rod is immersed in the tank to protect the metallic accessories and steel lining against corrosion further.
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These metal rods are sacrificial and are designed to deteriorate, but once they disintegrate, the metallic fixtures and steel lining are at serious risk. This metal rod is called the ‘water heater anode’ and is the primary safeguard against corrosion the storage tank has. Most people are unfamiliar with the water heater anode. Therefore, the first task should be to check the condition of the metal rod.
Minerals such as calcium carbonate get extracted from water when it is heated. These minerals, which are called ‘sediments,’ gradually settle on the bottom of the tank. The overall performance and efficiency of the system take a severe hit due to this sediment build-up.
These minerals form a layer on the heating element and do not allow proper contact between the component and the stored water, which results in reduced heat transfer. This causes the bottom of the storage tank to heat up, which gradually destroys the glass coating, which in turn reduces the life of the container.
Thus, getting rid of this sediment build-up is also an essential maintenance duty. The sediment build-up can be removed by periodically draining the storage tank.
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Another vital water heater maintenance task is inspecting all valves for water heater leaking or other faults. Valve malfunctions are dangerous and can result in personal injury or property damage. Therefore it is of utmost importance to ensure that all valves are performing optimally. An important safety feature of a water heating system is the temperature-pressure release valve. It is fixed on top of all water heating storage tanks. It releases excess pressure from the container. It also removes excess hot water through a drain line. The earlier mentioned sediment build-up affects this valve as well.
If the temperature-pressure release valve is faulty, it will either get stuck open or closed. On lifting the lever, water should flow down the drain line. In case the water does not flow down the drain line, it means that the valve should be replaced. It is prudent to check this at least once every six months.
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Another valve that needs to be checked is the water heater drain valve, which is located at the bottom of the storage tank. Depending on the manufacturer, these valves can be either plastic or made of metal. A vital heater maintenance task is to check this drain valve periodically. A faulty drain valve causes hot water to leak, which may lead to property damage over time.
A routine part of maintenance should be to check for high water pressure in the storage tank. This also should be done at least once every 6 months. Water pressure can be easily corrected by using a water pressure gauge on the drip valve.
Keep the hot water tap closed and switch on the heating element. Now take a note of the pressure. Next, open the hot water tap and retake a reading of the weight. If the demand exceeds 80 psi even when the tap is open, it means that a pressure reducing valve should be installed.
The steps, as mentioned above for water heater maintenance, if performed regularly, will ensure your water heater remains efficient and performs optimally for many years to come.
Even though all information in this post is accurate to the best of our knowledge, it is our firm opinion that only a professional should perform maintenance activities on water heaters.
Electric Water Heater Maintenance
If you own an electric water heater, the following instructions will aid you in performing proper water heater maintenance. Electrical water heater maintenance should be done with caution using appropriate safeguards. You should read the owners’ manual before you attempt to perform any maintenance activities.
Start by turning off the power supply from the breaker box. The inside of the breaker box should have a proper diagram showing which breaker corresponds to your electric water heater. You should consult with an electrician in case things are not bright at this point. All switches should be adequately labeled as a safety measure.
Once the power supply is off, turn off the feed line valve going into your electric water heater. Next, fix a hose to the drain valve. The drain valve is situated at the bottom near the thermostat. Now turn on a hot water faucet inside the house. This will prevent the vacuum effect when you drain your electric water heater tank.
Open the drain valve to begin removing the tank. The other end of the hose should be in a sink or consume to make sure the hot water safely exits your house. You can pour the water outside if a pan is not available nearby. It would help if you opened the drain valve gradually to let the hot water drain out.
This will ensure that the hose does not leak. In case you find that the tube is leaking, close the valve, re-tighten the hose and open the lid again. Wait until all the wastewater is gone.. Once all the water has drained, turn on the feed line while keeping the hose still fixed.
This will help remove the sediment deposit left in the water heater tank. Close the feed valve once clear water starts coming out of the hose. You can also close the drain valve now and remove the hose. Let the tube drain out all water before you put it back in. Also, remember to close the hot water faucet in the house that you had turned on earlier.
Wait until the tank is full before you turn the heater back on. The element may be damaged if you turn on an electric water heater before the tank is full.
The next step is to test the pressure release valve. Your electric water heater manual will have details regarding this step based on the make and model of your heater. In case you have misplaced the manual, just search online for your particular model, and you will find the necessary information.
Proceed to turn on the water heater from the breaker once the tank is filled with water. It may take some time for the water to reheat. Test the pressure release valve and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
This completes the electric water heater maintenance process. The directions, as mentioned earlier, if followed correctly, will have your electric water heater running like new. Always follow proper safety procedures when working with your water heater. Now you can remove any tools that may be lying around and wipe the area clean of any water that may have spilled.
Gas Water Heater Maintenance
Out of all the types of water heaters, gas water heater maintenance is the trickiest. Proper safety precautions need to be taken while undertaking gas water heater maintenance. You should also consult the owners’ manual before you start working on your gas water heater.
Despite being the most dangerous type of water heater, they are the most common type found in houses these days. This is because they heat water twice as fast but cost only half as much to operate compared to other kinds of water heaters.
There have been many technological advancements in gas water heaters in the past few years, which have made them much more efficient. However, they still require proper maintenance for their long life. Gas water heater maintenance is similar to other types except for a few different steps, which are mentioned ahead.
Begin water heater maintenance by checking that the burner area is receiving sufficient airflow. You need to visually inspect the pilot light and burner through the site glass. Consult the owners’ manual to identify what a proper burning pattern should look like. Also, always make sure that there are no flammable materials near your gas water heater.
Another routine water heater maintenance task that you need to perform at least once every two weeks is to inspect your venting and other connections located at the top of the heater.
Turn off the gas supply to the water heater and check to see that the pilot light burns out. This confirms that there is no gas trapped in the burning chamber. Now close the feed line valve and attach a hose on the drain valve. Put the other end of the hose in a sink or any other place where hot water can be safely drained. In case there is no sink nearby, you can leave the tube outside so that the water can drain out in the driveway.
Now open a hot water faucet in the home. This will prevent the vacuum effect in the water lines. Now slowly open the drain valve. Check to see if the tube is leaking. In case you find that the tube is leaking, close the drain valve, tighten the hose and open the drain valve again. Wait until all water is drained out of the tank.
Now open the feed line valve to flush out any sediment deposits that may have built up in the bottom of the tank. Wait until clear water starts to come out of the hose before closing the drain valve. Now you should remove the hose from the heater and let the excess water drain from it before storing it away. Also, clean any spilled water and remove all tools from the area.
Now turn on the gas supply and ignite the pilot light. Check your owners’ manual to see if there are any maintenance steps explicitly required by your manufacturer. Once the pilot light is on, and the water is heated, the gas water heater maintenance process is complete. As always, follow proper safety precautions while working on your gas water heater.
Solar Water Heater Maintenance
Over the years, solar water heaters have become very popular among homeowners. Solar power not only reduces your carbon footprint, but it helps in lowering your utility bills as well. Even though solar water heaters are not the bestselling heaters in the market right now, their increasing popularity cannot be questioned.
In many ways, solar water heater maintenance is similar to other types of water heater maintenance. The only difference is that we have to perform maintenance tasks on the power supply as well.
Solar water heater maintenance should begin with solar equipment. Check to see that none of the solar panels are blocked from sunlight due to any obstruction. You will need to check this in the morning, at noon, in the afternoon, as well as before sunset. If you find that the solar panels are being obstructed at any point during the day, either remove the obstruction permanently or move the solar panels so that they are no longer blocked from sunlight.
Solar panels perform best when they are clean. To remove any dust and dirt that may have accumulated on the boards along with leaves or other debris that may have flown with the wind onto the solar panels.
Now we need to check the plumbing and wiring connections to see if there are any loose wires or any other type of electrical malfunctioning. You may want to contact your local electrician for this step if you are not familiar with solar panels. Also, make sure that none of the water fixtures are leaking at this point and, if they are, tighten them or replace them.
Go through the owner’s manual before you do solar water heater maintenance to see if there are any specific requirements by the manufacturer. You can hire a professional to do the support the first time, and you can observe and follow the steps taken so that you can do it yourself in the future.
Turn off the power supply to the tank. Fix a hose on the drain valve and put the other end of the tubing into a sink. Now open the drain valve and empty the tank. You may want first to open the valve gradually to check if the hose is leaking. In case it is, close the lid, tighten the hose and open the valve again.
Once the tank is drained, run water through it to remove any sediment build-up near the bottom of the tank. Once the water starts running out without any obstruction and any dirt, you will know that the container is clean. You can now remove the drain hose and turn the feed line on. Fill the tank with water and turn on the power supply to the solar water heater.
It is essential to perform regular solar water heater maintenance so that your solar water heater may last a very long time and help you save on utility bills for many years to come. More and more people are shifting to solar water heaters due to their long life, ease of use, and low running costs.