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If you’re like most people, you don’t pay as much attention to your water heater as you do to other appliances in your home. Yet, the water heater plays a crucial role in the quality of your life. It heats your water, something you come into contact with throughout the day.
With proper maintenance, a gas water heater should last 8‒12 years, and an electric water heater should last about 10‒15 years. Modern water heaters last longer, but they also need proper maintenance to achieve their expected lifespan.
Like your other appliances, the water heater needs proper maintenance for you to get the most years out of it. You can do some maintenance tasks yourself. However, to get the best results, call a qualified and experienced plumber and have them undertake the maintenance. With that in mind, here are three tips to extend the life of your water heater.
1. Get It Right the First Time
The first time you install a water heater in your home or move into a home with a water heater, you need to do a few important things only once and forget. Getting these things right ensures you get the most years out of your water heater.
Give the Heater Enough Space
If you’re installing a water heater for the first time, make sure the system has a lot of breathing room. When you move into a new home with a water heater, do your best to clear the space around it. Doing so creates ample space for plumbing professionals to undertake repairs and maintenance. Space reduces the risk of fire by allowing airflow around the system.
Set the Right Temperature
Setting the right temperature is an easy one-off task. Once you set it, you can forget about it. To set the temperature, locate the temperature dial cover on the tank, remove it and adjust the temperature.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) recommends setting the temperature to 120°F to minimize the growth of microorganisms such as Legionella. Both the U.S. Department of Energy and the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommend setting your water heater to 120°F because it conserves energy and prevents scalding.
If you plan to be away from home for a long period, consider setting the temperature to the lowest setting to save on energy consumption until you return. Every 10-degree decrease in the temperature results in a savings of about 5%.
2. Undertake Regular Maintenance
Have a trusted and experienced plumber carry out regular maintenance checks of your water heater. A plumbing professional helps you prevent avoidable damages to the water heater. They also help you identify and fix minor problems such as leaks before they develop into more serious problems.
Cracks and Leaks
You can have a water heater maintenance service carry out an annual inspection of your water heater. Some of the signs they look out for include cracks and leaks. Left unchecked, leaks may lead to flooding. For that reason, leaky pipes should be replaced, so should a tank with leaks.
The anode rod prevents rust from forming inside the tank. It one of the most vital components of the water heater, so it should be inspected annually to ensure it functions properly to minimize rust formation and maximize the water heater’s lifespan.
Flushing the Tank
Periodically flushing the tank maximizes its life. Have a water heater maintenance service inspect your water heater’s condition to determine if it should be flushed annually or every six months. Flushing the tank removes accumulated sediment and debris and improves the tank’s energy efficiency.
3. Add Insulation, an Expansion, and Water Softener
Proper one-time and periodic maintenance practices and procedures help to maximize the lifespan of your water heater. In addition to proper maintenance, you can extend the life of your water heater, or at least minimize wear and tear, with some installations. Here are three installations we recommend you have a professional plumber set up alongside your water heater.
Insulate the heater and pipes. The size of the insulation should match that of your water pipes. Consider a 3/8-inch-thick foam self-sticking insulation. Insulate both the hot- and cold-water pipes, ensuring they’re well-covered. Doing so prevents condensation from accumulating around the pipes during summer. If the gap between pipes and flue is six inches or smaller, cover it with sufficiently thick pipe wrap.
You can extend the life of your water heater by adding an expansion tank to it, especially if it has a closed system in which there’s no backflow into the water main. That way, the water has nowhere to go when it expands. Continual changes in pressure place stress on your water heater and wears it down over time. An extension tank eases the stress on the water heater by providing an outlet.
If the water in your area is high in mineral content, you can extend your water heater’s life by installing a water softener. Referred to as hard water, water with high mineral content damages the water heater because it leaves deposits. A water softener helps to prevent the build-up of minerals in the system.
Signs That You May Need to Replace Your Water Heater
Always call a water heater maintenance service if you the following signs.
- Cold water. The water heater fails to heat water. You get cold water even when the system is hot.
- The water heater may start to provide a rumbling sound when sediment accumulates in the tank over time.
- Accumulation of water or moisture around the water heater is a sign that the tank may have one or more leaks.
- Rusty water. If your water heater produces rusty water, the tank or pipes may be rusted.
- Frequent malfunctions. If your water heater needs constant repair, it may be a sign that you need to replace it. Call a professional first and have them inspect it.
Call the Professionals
Using the tips in this article will improve the lifespan of your water heater. Even though the tips are easy, it’s always a good idea to contact a water heater maintenance service if you have any questions or when you experience a plumbing problem. Call bluefrog Plumbing + Drain for your water heater repair and maintenance needs to maximize the system’s lifetime.