Important Water Heater Maintenance Steps

Do you own your own home? When is the last time that you thought about your water heater? If you're like most people, you probably don't give your water heater much thought. As long as you get hot water every day, your water heater is something that you generally ignore. Unfortunately, ignoring your water heater can actually have catastrophic consequences later. In order to keep your water heater functioning for as long as possible, here are some things that you should do to maintain it:

Regular draining and flushing:  Whether your water is very hard or is generally considered soft, there will be some minerals dissolved within the water. When the water is heated, it may no longer be able to "hold" all of this mineral content, and the calcium or other minerals will precipitate to the bottom of the tank. As this layer builds up, it can cause corrosion to the tank lining, and it can make it more difficult for the heating element to do its job. A yearly draining and flushing out of the tank can help prevent damage from happening to the tank itself. However, if your tank is already several years old and you haven't drained it yet, don't start now. Although the precipitate may be causing damage, some of the particles may also now be plugging the microscopic holes that they created. Flushing these particles out of your water heater will cause it to leak. In order to preserve the life of your water heater, you need to drain and flush it out starting from when you first have the heater installed.

Replace the anode rod: The interior of your water heater is lined with glass. This helps to protect the metal part of the tank but, over time, the glass can crack and allow water to reach the metal portion. To further protect the metal of your tank, a water heater has a sacrificial anode installed. The anode's job is to attract any potentially corrosive compounds within the water, corroding so that the liner does not. These compounds, such as calcium or lime, are harmless to humans and pets but can cause problems for metals. Since it's the anode's job to corrode instead of the tank, you'll need to have a new one installed in your water heater every few years in order for it to continue protecting your water heater.

Clean the heating element: Over time, the heating element and its attached thermometer can become damaged by the repeated heating and cooling cycles. If you leave the heating element alone, you could wind up without hot water at an inopportune time. On the other hand, having your plumber or other service professional clean and inspect the heating element regularly should alert you to a potential issue before it becomes an actual problem. 


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