Performing proper maintenance on your water heater can extend the life of the unit and save you money in repair and energy costs. Water heaters typically last 8-12 years, but with proper maintenance, you can help them last longer. The better maintained your unit is, the more efficiently it will run. When it runs efficiently you don’t have to call a repair specialist as often, nor do you have to pay extra for wasted energy costs. This type of maintenance isn’t difficult, and it barely costs you a thing. Here’s how to do it.
1. Drain Your Water Heater
Due to gas, dust, and use, your water heater collects sediments. These sediments collect at the bottom of the water heater and make it harder for the unit to heat the water. Once a year, you should drain the tank to remove all the built up sediment. This will help your unit run more safely and more quietly. Draining the tank regularly also means that you don’t have to worry about sediment bouncing around and damaging the infrastructure of the unit, a significant cause of premature breakdowns.
Insulating your water heater is a great way to help your water heater work more efficiently by keeping water that’s already been heated warm for longer. Wrap Energy Star approved insulation around the water tank to help the water keep warm without using extra energy. You should also make sure there is a few feet of space around the water heater. Too much clutter is dangerous around the water heater, and can cause fires.
3. Use Vacation Mode
When you go on vacation, turn your water heater to vacation mode. If this process isn’t immediately obvious, check your user manual. While in vacation mode, the water heater will maintain the pilot light, but won’t heat the water. This means you aren’t overworking the machine when no one is home to use it.
4. Maintain the Temperature
Keep your water heater at the proper temperature*. Most manufacturers set the water heater to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but this is much too warm. Most people are comfortable with 120 degrees. Do you ever get in the shower and turn the water as hot as it will go? Probably not. Having the water temperature too high just wastes energy by making your heating unit work to keep the water warmer than you’ll ever need it to be. Consult your manual to make sure you change the temperature properly and safely. On an electric water heater, you may need to turn the electricity off on the water heater before you adjust the temperature.
5. Consult a Repair Specialist Regularly
Having a repair specialist come to your home for maintenance checks is a great way to spot possible problems early. A manufacturer or home warranty may cover maintenance visits, and they are much more willing to pay for repairs if you can prove you have been enlisting the help of a repair specialist regularly. Insurers and warranty executives like to see that you have been properly maintaining your appliances. Maintenance checks can also save you repair costs later on by giving you tips on improving the functionality of your particular water heating unit.
Maintaining your water heater is an important part of being a homeowner. Drain your water heater regularly, turn the temperature to the proper heat, and call maintenance specialists every year. Follow these tips to properly maintain your water heater, and you’ll put in less work in the long run.
Do you service your water heater regularly? Is yours due for some maintenance?
*Editor’s Note: According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, hot water heaters should not be set at a temperature above 120′ Fahrenheit. In fact, in some states it is illegal to have the temperature above 120′ F. If you’d like to know the anti-scald regulations in your state, you can find it here.