Water heaters are an important part of modern-day living, making life much more comfortable. After all, we all want to have a reliable source of hot water.

However, you may end up losing your hot water unexpectedly if you don’t maintain your water heater and service it at least once a year. Units that keep a high temperature or have hard water should be maintained at least twice a year. This ensures that you save energy, reduce water expenses, increase your tank’s lifespan, and identify issues and needed repairs early.

So how can you maintain your water heater to extend its life and energy efficiency? In this article, we’ll explain how to maintain your hot water heater, whether traditional or tankless.

4 Tank Water Heater Maintenance Tips

There are four simple tips to maintain your tank water heater.

1. Check the Pressure Relief Valve

The pressure relief valve is a safety feature that allows your tank storage heater to drain if pressure levels are dangerously high. To test it, you simply lift the tab on the valve, hold it for a few seconds, and let it go. The water should flow freely when the tab is up and stop when it’s down. If it doesn’t work properly, you’ll know you need to replace it.

2. Flush the Water Tank

Once you’ve checked the valve, you can begin flushing the water tank. You must flush it at least once a year to clean out the interior and remove sediment and buildup, which increases its efficiency.

There are eight simple steps to flush your water heater:

  1. Shut off the unit’s water, power, and gas at the source (if applicable).
  2. Allow the water to cool for 1-2 hours.
  3. Attach a hose to the water heater’s drain valve to drain the remaining water
  4. Put the end of the hose in a bucket or drain.
  5. Turn on the hot water in one or two faucets in the house to avoid a vacuum.
  6. Turn on the drain valve to drain the tank. Once it’s done, turn the drain valve off and remove the hose.
  7. Refill the tank with water and turn the cold water, power, and heating elements back on.
  8. Expose the thermostat and use a flathead screwdriver to adjust the temperature in 10-degree increments, checking and adjusting as needed every hour. The lower the temperature, the more energy you save.

3. Check the Anode Rod

The anode rod is a steel core wire with a metal coating that protects your water heater’s inner lining by attracting corrosive minerals in the water. It prevents corrosion and a leaky water tank.

You can check the anode after you drain the tank by loosening the hex head to inspect its coating and thickness, making sure that it’s at least ½ inch thick and isn’t coated with calcium. Replace it if needed, tightening it with a wrench until it’s snug.

This can be a dangerous task if you don’t have the proper tools or knowledge of electrical safety, so it may be best to delegate this task to a professional plumber.

4. Complete Other Useful Maintenance Tasks

There are many other maintenance tips that you can follow to save energy and improve your tank unit’s lifespan, such as:

  • Clean the air intake filter with compressed air or a water hose. Change as needed.
  • Insulate the unit’s pipes with foam pipe insulation.
  • Insulate the heater with bubble wrap or an insulation shield.
  • Get a professional inspection every year.

3 Tankless Water Heater Maintenance Tips

Also known as instantaneous water heaters or demand-type water heaters, tankless water heaters eliminate the need for tanks by heating water as it passes through the unit. Since they operate differently, tankless water heaters have their own unique maintenance methods to keep them running at their best.

1. Flush the System

Tankless water heaters need to be flushed and descaled to remove buildup at least twice a year, especially if you live in an area with hard water.

There are five steps to flush a tankless water heater:

  1. Make a mixture of vinegar and water.
  2. Turn off the water to the pump.
  3. Attach two hoses to the unit.
  4. Use a sump pump to push the vinegar water solution into the unit for at least 45 minutes.
  5. Flush the unit with plain water.

You can make this process easier with a descaling kit, which contains all the supplies and instructions you need to complete the process.

2. Clean the Water and Air Filters

The water filter is a screen that protects your tankless water heater by trapping any incoming sediment, and the air filter protects the unit from dust and keeps a steady inflow of air. You can clean them both in four simple steps:

  1. Turn off the water supply.
  2. Remove the filter.
  3. Wipe the water filter clean with a cloth or warm soapy water, and the air filter with a soft brush and soapy water.
  4. Dry the filters if cleaned with water and place them back in their compartment.

3. Use a Water Softener and Water Filtration System

Whether you have a tank or tankless water heater system, hard water has a high mineral content that can cause corrosion and a quicker buildup of sediment. Adding a water softener and water filtration system to your home removes calcium, sediment buildup, and other contaminants from the water. This is a simple way to help your unit last longer and improve the water quality in your home.

Get Reliable, Professional Water Heater Maintenance

There are many benefits to maintaining your water heater, and following these simple tips will keep it running at its best for years to come. However, there are some tasks that are best left to professionals, and it’s ideal to have professionals take a look at your unit at least once a year.

If you need reliable, high-quality maintenance services for your water heater, Intown Plumbing provides knowledgeable experts for the best care. Contact us today to get professional help with any servicing you need!