Published onSeptember 5th, 2023
Be Proactive About Water Heater Maintenance — Before Cold Weather Arrives
According to the Department of Energy, a water heater typically lasts between 10 and 15 years. The exact estimate depends on the type of system and specific manufacturer, and it assumes proper care and upkeep.
Preventative maintenance on a hot water heater is vital to meeting warranty and lifetime expectations. Discover the preventive measures you can implement to protect your system and reduce the risks of premature hot water failure in your building.
7 Tips for Preventative Maintenance on a Hot Water Heater
1. Execute Casual and Professional Inspections
Water heaters require regular inspections, including casual or visual inspections every month or two. A building super or maintenance team can perform casual inspections, looking for obvious signs of damage, such as leaks, corrosion, rust, or burst pipes. However, building staff shouldn’t touch or attempt appliance repairs — doing so risks injury to the person and property.
Once yearly, a professional should inspect building water heaters. The annual inspection is a more thorough examination of all components, ensuring everything is functional and in good condition.
Contact a professional if a problem arises during casual inspections or between annual assessments. Calray Boilers can help with emergency and scheduled repairs.
2. Flush the Tank Annually
A water heater brings cold water into a property, heats it, and pushes the hot water throughout the building. When the appliance allows cold water in, it can collect sediment deposits from the supply that settle on the tank bottom. The sediment creates an insulating layer that inhibits the heating function of the tank and may also cause blockages.
A system flush is necessary for preventative maintenance on a water heater. Flushing the system helps remove excess sediment buildup, improving the heater’s efficiency and life expectancy. Professionals should perform a flush annually to limit the risks of buildup and blockages.
3. Reduce the Temperature Setting
Most manufacturers set the temperature setting of their water heaters to 140° F right out of the box. The preset temperature is often too high for most residential properties. To limit the risk of scalding, a property owner should ensure the water heater temperature setting is 120° F. If you worry this setting is not hot enough, consult a professional for a proper property assessment.
Still, you should think twice about increasing the temperature to more than 120° F for the sake of your water heater. Higher temperatures can increase sediment accumulation, especially in hard water systems, and may reduce the heater’s service life. Also, higher temperatures may result in excessive heat loss on standby.
4. Regularly Test the Temperature Pressure Relief Valve
A temperature pressure relief valve is a safety feature and device on hot water appliances, such as boilers and water heaters. The TPR valve automatically releases water if the temperature or pressure in the tank exceeds safe preset levels.
As a part of preventative maintenance on a hot water heater, property owners should schedule testing of the TPR valve at least once every six months. Corrosion, debris, rust, or temperature fluctuations can damage the valve and cause it to fail.
Testing the valve is simple: You open the valve to allow water to come out. It works if water comes out when you open the valve and stops when you close it. The valve requires replacement if no water comes out or it pours out. Because of the risk of scalding and injury, leave TPR valve assessments to the professionals.
5. Replace Water Heater Filters
Scale and sediment are the enemies of your property’s water heater. A filter is a device that retains hardness minerals to prevent excess sediment and problems within the tank. Most filters are not permanent and require replacement annually. If your system uses a scale-net or TAC product, the device can last up to five years, depending on the appliance and its operational output.
Filter placement is on the cold water line, typically in a special housing. Because of its placement and the system’s sensitivity, it is best to leave filter replacements to professionals like those working for Calray Boilers.
6. Replace the Anode Rod
Another element of preventative maintenance on a water heater is the replacement of the anode rod every four to five years. This tool attracts sediment and corrosive substances away from the tank. Corrosion still occurs but is focused on the rod, not the tank.
If an anode rod goes bad, it cannot remove corrosives and sediment effectively, leaving the tank susceptible to damage. Signs of a bad anode rod include:
- – Air in the lines
- – Discolored water
- – Intermittent hot water
- – Odors, such as a rotten egg smell
Like most water heater maintenance activities, leaving the anode rod replacement to professionals is best. While the replacement may seem straightforward, many things can go wrong.
7. Insulate the Tank and Pipes
Heat loss is one of the primary issues of owning a hot water tank. Most heat loss occurs in standby mode when hot water isn’t flowing through the system. Insulating the tank and pipes can reduce heat loss and prevent the system from overworking.
The DOE suggests that water heater insulation can reduce standby heat losses by up to 45% and reduce water heating costs by up to 16%. While DIY insulation is straightforward, you want to ensure you purchase appropriate products. Also, talk to a professional to ensure heat loss isn’t the result of other underlying problems.
Keeping Up With Preventative Maintenance on a Hot Water Heater
Sign an Annual Service Contract With Calray Boilers
Preventative maintenance on a hot water heater is essential to ensure the projected lifespan of 10 to 15 years. By keeping up with these seven points, you can reduce system failure risks and improve the heater’s efficiency.
Contact Calray Boilers at 212-722-5506 to discuss annual service contracts and preventative maintenance schedules. With a service contract, we prioritize your building and ensure your boiler and water heater receive all essential services, cleanings, and inspections.