How to Increase the Longevity of Your Water Heater
Conventional water heater maintenance
Conventional water heaters generally have a life span of 15 or more years. But it can be a lot less when conditions are adverse. The adverse conditions are set off by a number of small and big problems. If you are able to discover these problems on time and repair them without overlooking them, you can make your water heater function without a hitch for a long time.
Since the manufacturers of your water heater promise minimum 15 years of life for their product, you tend to take this water heater for granted. You think that it will work anyway and there no need to mind it at least for the first 10 years. But this thought in itself is detrimental to the wellbeing of your water heater.
The best policy, therefore, is to examine your water heater periodically to ensure its overall health. Faulty components, amateur plumbing and your groundwater quality are some of the major aspects that affect the health of the water heater. So it is compulsory that you check all the important components as often as you can. Besides, checking the quality of your ground water and doing the needful to reduce any undesirable effect of the water on your water heater is also recommended.
Check the P&T valve
This is a safety mechanism to nullify the increased water pressure and the temperature inside the tank. This valve will let water out in case of such an emergency. But if the valve is not functional, the purpose is defeated and it will affect the water heater.
So it is very important to check the P&T valve. If it fails to work efficiently it needs to be replaced. Replacing this valve is easy. You should shut off the gate valve of cold water and electric lines before working on your water heater. If it is a gas fueled water heater, close the gas valve. Open the drain valve to empty the tank. Then detach the P&T valve using a wrench and screw in the new one.
Drain the water heater annually
It is enough to drain your best water heater once a year in the ordinary circumstances. But if your ground water is particularly dirty or hard, you have to increase the frequency of this draining process.
To drain the water tank you have to close the inlet water pipe and disconnect the electric connections and gas lines as usual. Attach a garden hose to the drainage valve and open the valve to let out the water. When it stops open the pressure valve to let air in, which enables complete drainage. It you feel that the tank is very dirty, let in a little water and drain once again. An annual flushing with food grade white vinegar also helps to remove mineral deposits inside the tank. Then close the drainage valve tightly and refill the tank.
Check the water pressure
If you find a dripping P&T valve, test the valve. If the valve is intact, it means the pressure inside your water heater is more than necessary. This will spoil your water heater. The trick is to install a pressure reducing valve of 60 psi (pounds per square inch).
The most suitable temperature for your water heater health is 120oF. When the temperature is too high, it will affect the inside of the water heater. The temperature dial is at the side of the tank and you can adjust it with a flat head screw driver.
Check your anode rod
An anode rod of magnesium or aluminum is installed inside the tank. These are metals that are down the nobility hierarchy. When electricity and water is present water becomes the electrolyte. The heating element becomes the cathode and the inside of the water heater becomes anode and corrosion occurs to the steel parts of the water heater. To prevent this, an anode rod made of a base metal is installed. This turns into the anode and accepts the corrosion. No wonder these anode rods are often referred to as sacrificial anode rods.
This rod has to be checked at least once in two years. If the corrosion has reduced the length of the rod, it has to be changed. It is a simple affair.
Insulating the tank and pipes
When the heat loss is too much from the tank’s body and pipes, the heating element of your water heater has to work overtime. This will lead to over working of the heater and immense energy loss. So the tank and the pipes have to be aptly insulated to prevent heat loss. The self adhesive foam can be used for the pipes and the foil covered bubble wrap can be used for the tank.
Check the water and electrical connections
The water connections should be checked for leaks and corrosion. Tightening the loose joints and replacing the corroded pipes will allow your water heater to work for a long time without any trouble.
Check the electrical connections for possible shorts and faults in earthing system.
Tankless water heater maintenance
The tankless water heaters have longer life span than the storage models. They can boast of minimum 20 years of service life if nothing untoward happens. To see that nothing untoward happens is your responsibility.
Check the vent flues
Check the vent flues of your gas tankless water heater. There should not be any dirt or debris blocking the vent pipe. It should have a free air passage in order to expel the combustion air.
Clean your water heater
The tankless water heater should be kept reasonably clean. There should not be any combustible materials around it.
Keep the heating element free of mineral deposits
Usually a coat of mineral deposit covers the heating element. This reduces the efficiency of the component. It is recommended that your tankless water heater should be flushed once a year using food grade white vinegar.
The water and air filter cleaning
The water and air filters should be checked periodically to relieve them of any possible debris accumulation or dirt build up.
If you are meticulous about the periodical maintenance of your water heater, be it conventional or tankless, you can expect a longer service from them.