Keeping Your Hot Water Heater Maintained

Like your car, ongoing maintenance is important in ensuring years of trouble free operation from your water heater. As with all machinery, wear items and consumables impact the performance of your water heater. To ensure maximum efficiency and reliability, be sure place maintenance on your annual checklist.

For most homes, annual maintenance is sufficient. While the occasional breakdown may take place, it is unlikely to be unexpected as annual maintenance will give you a consistent snapshot into the overall health of your hot water heater.

What We Look For When Assessing the Condition of Your Water Heater

The overall health of your hot water heater can be maintained by staying on top of a few individually-minor but collectively-significant maintenance items:

  1. Drain your hot water heater – If your hot water heater employs the use of a storage tank, as most do, this is important and often overlooked.
    If you live in an area with hard water, which is quite common throughout the lower mainland, your hot water heater’s storage tank will begin to accumulate calcium and sediment build up. This build up, if left unchecked, will significantly impact the efficiency and performance of your water heater. Eventually, it will cause your water heater to fail.
  2. Check the temperature and pressure value – The temperature and pressure valve is a safety device designed to prevent severe catastrophic failure of your hot water heater. In the event your hot water storage tank over pressurizes, the temperature and pressure valve opens and releases the water down the drain. This decreases pressure in the tank, avoiding a potential explosion.
    Once or twice per year, open and close the valve a few times. This will release some water from the tank (harmlessly). The value should open with ease and release no water when closed.
  3. Check the anode for corrosion – The anode is a rod, made of zinc, that is a purpose-built wear item. The anode corrodes inside of your tank (thus preventing the interior of the tank itself from corroding).
  4. Confirm operation of the pilot light – Most hot water heaters installed in BC homes use natural gas as their source of heat. The pilot light remains constantly lit to ensure that there is no slow build up of natural gas in the vicinity. As you can imagine, a slow natural gas leak represents a major safety hazard.

Other Things to Keep In Mind About Your Hot Water Heater

Most water heaters have a shelf life in the fifteen year range. Over time the rigors of 24/7 operation will takes its toll, necessitating a replacement.

In order to get your value from your water heater, it is imperative that you stay on top of maintenance. After all, an annual water heater tune-up will almost certainly cost less than a premature replacement or major repair.