Can you even imagine a life without a water heater? Most of us cannot, especially those who prefer hot showers in summers too. We should thank technology for giving us water heaters that provide easy access to hot water 24/7.
But then this dependency calls for good maintenance practices for water heaters, as a little negligence, and you will find yourself bathing in cold water even on a chillier day. Doesn’t the thought of it only sends shivers down your spine? Therefore, one important piece of advice is to stay vigilant and use a proactive approach for the upkeep of your water heater.
To help ease the burden off your shoulders, we have covered some tips on what you should be doing with your water heater. We will tell you about things in water heaters that should be repaired or replaced, and the signs that call for an immediate reaction from your side. Have faith, you will never regret following some preemptive measures that allow your water heater to perform optimally.
Table of Contents
What You Should be Doing To Maintain a Water Heater
Water heaters are of many different types. An electric hot water heater is the most common with several subtypes. A gas water heater uses natural gas to heat water. Go for regular maintenance no matter what type of water heater you have. This is a sure shot way to force your water heater to give its 100% and fulfill its promise of providing hot water for years.
Here are some tips to maintain your water heater for maximum efficiency.
Conduct Regular Inspection
Flush the Tank Yearly
Insulate the Tank
Test the Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve
Let’s now analyze each one in detail so that your water heater doesn’t leave you alone somewhere in the middle of the journey.
Conduct Regular Inspection of Water Heaters
Ask any expert, and they will tell you how important regular inspections are for modern-day devices, and your water heater is no exception. It doesn’t like to be ignored. So to avoid the probability of malfunction, you must conduct frequent checks before it’s too late. Look for the following:
Are there signs of any leakage? If there is rust build-up or crack on the casing, you need to go for an immediate replacement. Take professional help if you think this isn’t something you can fix.
Check the connections and screws and if they are loose, tighten them or replace them.
Also, make sure to see that your water heater is properly vented, as this might lead to gas accumulation, which is a hazard to your safety.
Flush the Tank of Your Water Heaters Yearly
Where regular inspections should be months apart, flushing the tank is a once-a-year practice to help you get rid of the built-up sediments. The simplest way to do so involves these steps:
Switch off the power or gas supply to your water heater.
Once you do so, attach a hose to the drain valve; this allows for draining out the water once the valve is open.
When the water runs clear, fill the tank again.
Once you are sure your water heater tank is not empty, switch on the power or gas again.
Insulate the Tank of Your Water Heater
Insulation shares the load with water heaters to give you hot water. It is your friend too as it reduces costs. Wondering how it contributes to the efficiency of your water heater? It extends the life of the heater as the strain on your poor device is less, and it does not have to work that hard to provide hot water. For Insulation of your water heater, you need a blanket kit, and the following steps will ensure you get the perfect results.
Switch off the water heater and cut the blanket according to the height of the water heater.
Position it on the water heater and mark the pipes, valves, etc., and cut them out.
Install the blanket and turn on the water heater back. You can even contact an expert to carry out the insulation operation on your behalf. This will ensure a more accurate installation, giving your water heater a reliable companion.
Test the Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve of the Water Heater
The temperature and pressure valve of your water heater is your rescuer as it lets excessive temperature and pressure inside the tank to be released safely. And now, with this, you might have realized the importance of testing it as its malfunction can cause your water heater to explode, which is one thing you would never want. So test it to avoid any major mishap.
You can do it by the simple method: Lift the lever on the water heater valve and allow some water to get out. In case no water comes out, or it does come out in a significant amount, then you need to call in for help as the valve needs replacement. If water flows but stops once you lower the valve, congratulations, the valve is working properly, and everything is safe.
Some Important Repairs & Replacements in Water Heaters
Once you are done with the checking part for your water heaters, now comes the actual game. You want your water heater performance to touch the sky, isn’t it? So conduct some repairs and replacements to force the water heater to perform its duty for years.
The following tips can help you in your hot water achievement mission for longer periods:
Lower the Temperature
Replace the Anode Rod
Replace the Air Intake Filter
Insulate the Pipes
Now let’s delve deeper into each one of these to get a clearer picture of what should be done:
Lower the Temperature to Avoid Corrosion from Extremely Hot Water
Why are we expecting you to lower the temperature when your aim is to get hot water? Well, the lower temperature has made it to our ideas’ list for a purpose, and that is because high temperatures can speed up the accumulation of mineral sediment inside the tank, ending up in corrosion. This will lead to a shortened life span of the water heater, which is what you don’t want.
Replace the Anode Rod of the Water Heater
Ask an electric water heater manufacturer, and they will tell you to check your anode rod within 1 to 3 years and replace it if it has been consumed for more than 50%, especially in cases where there is hard water. Since replacing the anode rod is not child’s play, you should consult an expert. But if you still want to do it on your own, make sure to shut off the power and water.
Once you have located the anode rod, drain about 10% of the water after connecting the drain outlet to a garden hose. Remove the anode rod with a boxed end wrench or socket. Install the new rod. One thing to remember is that this process is not as simple as it sounds, so using professional help is your safest bet.
Replace the Air Intake Filter of Your Water Heater
Replacing the air intake filter regularly is yet another idea that will protect your unit. The air intake filter traps dust and other pollutants that can damage your gas or electric water heater. Once the filter gets dirty, the unit can overheat and shut down, again depriving you of the joys that hot waters offer. So change your filters as a regular maintenance measure to let the performance of your water heater stay at peak. You deserve hot water, and these filter replacements can work like magic.
Insulate the Water Heater Pipes
Apart from insulating the water heaters, insulating the pipe is also important. The most important benefit is that your pipes will be saved from freezing and bursting, and again, the load sharing will enable your water heater to perform perfectly for longer periods. This can simply be done by installing thick foam insulation that matches the pipes diameter. Once done, your time to wait for hot water, and those daunting electric bills will both be reduced, allowing you to enjoy your heated water more.
To achieve your water heater pipe insulation mission, watch this video which depicts an easy way to do so. You can make an attempt yourself, if you feel like it, after watching this. However, consult professionals if you think this is not your job.
Consider Installing Tankless Water Heaters
To avoid the common issues with a storage tank water heater, consider a tankless model to fulfill the hot water demand. Tankless water heaters only provide hot water when you need it, and you can save money by using them. Besides being energy efficient than a tank water heater, a tankless water heater has easily replaceable parts which makes troubleshooting easier.
Cons of Tankless Water Heater
Although tankless water heaters provide ease of use and are energy efficient as compared to a storage tank water heater, you may need to pay more money to buy and install it comparatively.
If we add up the installation cost of these electric tankless water heaters, it can go up to $2000-$3000, depending upon the type of heater and the complexity of installation. Another downside of using tankless water heaters is that they have a limited flow rate, which may be a problem if a higher output is required at one time.
Go For Heat Pump Water Heaters to Save Electricity
A heat pump water heater also runs on electricity or natural gas, but it is different from a conventional water heater as it doesn’t directly generate heat but instead moves heat from one place to another.
Heat pump water heaters work similarly to refrigeration or air conditioning but in reverse. It uses a refrigerant that absorbs heat from air or ground outside the unit and transfers it to heat water. The refrigerant passes through an evaporator coil, where it absorbs heat. It is then compressed by a compressor, which increases its temperature and pressure. The hot refrigerant then flows through a condenser coil, releasing the heat it absorbed from the air or ground to the water in the tank. The refrigerant then passes through an expansion valve, which reduces its pressure and temperature and returns to the evaporator to start the process over again.
Generally, a heat pump water heater can save between 50% to 60% on water heating costs compared to traditional electric water heaters. This can give you savings of hundreds of dollars per year, depending on the size of the household and their hot water usage.
Although it is energy efficient, a downside of a heat pump water heater is that it may not be as effective in regions with extremely cold or hot climates.
Clear Signs Indicating Your Water Heater Needs Your Attention
You surely are a vigilant homeowner but don’t think natural gas water heaters or electric water heaters can’t still betray you. An aging water heater can leave your companionship at any point in time, but it will surely let you know beforehand so that repairs and replacements can be made on time. If your hot water heater points towards any of the following, make sure to give it your special attention:
Foul Smells or Bad-Tasting Water
A bad smell and a bad taste definitely indicate a problem in water heaters that needs resolution. At times you might be questioning your senses if such a case occurs, but you should question the performance of your water heater instead. Now you may ask what causes this strangeness, well the main culprits here are the bacteria that make water heaters their home. This is because, like humans, these little microorganisms also love a warm environment.
Moreover, corrosion and rust invite bacteria. To get rid of the bacteria, you can drain your water by the tips mentioned above, or you can treat your water by consulting professionals. They will also tell you if you need to replace your hot water heater and get a new one.
Weird Noises from the Water Heater
Weird noises from the water heater are a definite sign that your unit is incurring some problems and might fail if not attended to in due time. The popping, rumbling, and banging sounds are shouting for help, and so to save yourself from involving in any major costly affair, you should listen to their calling at the earliest.
Any sort of noises from water heaters are due to the sediment formed at the bottom of the tank. It can cause a tank to overheat, which is obviously not a pleasant feature and can lead to complete failure, depriving you of the perfectly hot water that you need.
The Tank is Too Hot to Touch
One of the clearest indications of malfunction in water heaters is that the tank gets too hot to touch. This can definitely lead to an outburst that can pose safety threats. Additionally, overheating can give you extremely hot water in your showers, that can be dangerous for kids especially. The reasons for this could be a broken thermostat, mineral build-up, or faulty water heater elements.
Given the consequences, it is advised not to leave the fixing or repairs to the amateurs. This is because it involves a combo of water and a faulty electrical component and so should be handled with extreme attentiveness. Only an expert can guide and replace or repair your hot water heater in such circumstances.
When to Call the Pro?
Water heaters are an important component of your house, and their inefficiency can take away the joys that hot waters offer to your life. You definitely don’t want to fall sick by taking cold showers on chilly and windy days. By now, you might have also realized that fixing a water heater is not an easy feat. You surely don’t want to experiment with something as important as this unit of yours, where a lot of hot water and gas or electricity is involved.
Therefore, call for professional help to get your hot water heater inspected and fixed at the right time. They will also tell you if the signs are genuine and suggest replacements based on professional observation. Remember, your investment at the right time can save you from costly and harmful consequences in the future.
Some problems like an inefficient gas or electric water heater are more dangerous than other ordinary plumbing issues and so need your immediate attention. Give it the due importance through regular checks and inspections, and don’t ignore any signs.
Go for expert advice to eliminate any confusion so that you can repair or replace the parts or upgrade to a new unit altogether. You definitely know your boundary in this arena, therefore, call for professional help where required and enjoy the warm baths for an elongated time period without worrying about any harmful issues.