4 Tips for Maintaining Your Water Heater

Your water heater is an everyday appliance that you don’t need to mess with every day! …As long as you keep up on maintenance.

Just like your refrigerator or toilet, you use your water heater every day… but you don’t even touch it! That’s why it’s easy to forget to keep up on its maintenance. Here are 4 tips for maintaining your water heater.

1. Lower the temperature setting on your water heater

Many water heaters’ default setting is over 130 degrees Fahrenheit. We recommend a temperature setting of about 115-120 degrees. This lower setting will help reduce the chances of your water heater overheating as well as save you up to 5% on your energy bill.

2. Check the Temperature Pressure Relief (TPR) valve

Most water heaters have a TPR valve. It is a safety measure installed that opens if too much pressure or heat builds up, preventing damage to the unit or dangerous explosions. We recommend that you check your TPR valve every 6 months to ensure its integrity.

  • Place a bucket or bowl below the TPR drain pipe.
  • Gently lift up the TPR valve’s lever, but make sure to not push it all the way up. If you do, it will lock and the water heater will drain. You only want to drain a gentle stream from the tank. You should hear water and air coming from the valve, and see water flowing into the bucket.

If you don’t have any water running into your bucket, you’ll need to have the valve replaced. When you have a faulty valve, any excess pressure inside your water heater tank will have no place to go. The pressure could build up until the water heater bursts.

3. Flush your water heater

Sediment and other materials build up inside your water heater throughout the year and if left alone for too long can calcify, resulting in your water heater needing to be replaced. Luckily, if you keep up on your maintenance, you can avoid this pricey fix! We recommend you flush your water heater every 6-12 months.

  • Turn off your water heater, cold water supply, and thermostat
  • Open all your hot water faucets (this helps the tank drain faster)
  • Connect a garden hose to the tank’s drain valve at the bottom of the tank and direct it outside. Open the water heater’s drain valve and let it drain
  • Keep an eye on the amount of sediment draining from the hose
    • IF there is no water draining from the hose when you first loosen the drain valve, you might have a sediment blockage. Try loosening the TPR valve to release any extra pressure from the tank. 
  • After the tank is drained, turn the cold water supply back on, which will help rinse out any sediment left in the bottom of the tank. Let it run for a few minutes and check the end of the hose to see when it runs clear, then turn it off.
  • Disconnect the hose from the drain valve
  • Leave the hot water faucets open until water begins flowing out of them. This will prevent air from becoming trapped. Don’t be surprised if you see rust or sediment coming out at first. Once the water clears, usually after a minute or so, it will be ok to turn the faucets off.
  • Reset the water heater thermostat to your preferred setting. If you have a gas water heater, reopen the gas supply valve and relight the pilot using the process recommended by the manufacturer. Once the tank is filled, you should have plenty of hot water in 15 to 20 minutes.

4. Get an annual professional water heater inspection/tune-up

Just like your car, your water heater needs regular maintenance from a professional. We know just what to look for when inspecting your water heater. We look at all the parts that aren’t safe for you to access and the things you don’t want to mess with. We can also help when you think it’s time to upgrade your water heater! If you have any questions or want help with your water heater maintenance, Call us today! (509) 535-3447 for service in Washington, or (208) 649-9991 for Idaho.

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