Like most other appliances in your home, conventional tank-style water heaters require some periodic maintenance. Servicing your water heater ensures that it's operating correctly and can potentially extend its lifespan. On the other hand, ignoring your water heater or deferring maintenance can lead to premature wear and early failures.
While most water heater maintenance tasks are relatively straightforward, you may still want to hire a plumber to perform this service. In some cases, water heater maintenance may overlap with a regular service checkup for your furnace or air conditioning system. Regardless of when you schedule this visit, your plumber will usually check and address these three essential items.
1. Tank Sediment
Sediment build-up is a common cause of water heater issues. Sediment builds up along the bottom of the tank for various reasons, including contamination in your water supply and internal rusting in the tank. Over time, the sediment can move around inside your tank, potentially damaging the lining. For electric water heaters, sediment can insulate the heating elements and cause them to burn out.
You can usually address tank sediment problems by draining and flushing your tank, and any routine service visit should include this step. Ensuring that you don't allow a significant amount of sediment to accumulate in your tank will extend its life, prevent easily avoidable damage, and keep it operating as quietly as possible.
2. Anode Rod
Your water heater's anode rod is a bit like a lightning rod for rust. While you can't prevent your water heater's tank from eventually corroding, the anode rod can significantly slow this process down. Your tank's anode rod attracts the elements that would cause rust to your water tank's walls, sacrificing itself to save the rest of the tank.
Since they're sacrificial, anode rods are wearable parts that you'll need to replace periodically. Your plumber will check the condition of the anode rod and replace it if necessary. Although this step might seem small, it can prevent potentially catastrophic leaks that can force you to replace your entire water heater.
3. Safety Features and Leaks
Finally, any routine service will include a check of the pressure relief valve (PRV) and a quick leak inspection. The PRV is a critical safety element, so it's essential to confirm that it's operating correctly. The PRV can also be a common source of leaks, so it may be necessary to replace yours if there's any sign of nearby water.
These steps may not seem complicated, but they're essential to keeping your water heater operating smoothly and efficiently. By scheduling a routine service at least once per year, you may be able to avoid many expensive problems that can potentially lead to a complete water heater replacement.
For more information, contact a water heater service near you.