Water Heater Maintenance

water heater maintenance

A water heater is typically just installed and forgotten about until it doesn’t function properly.

Many people only remember their water heaters when their hot water supply runs cold.

Nonetheless, a simple maintenance routine can help extend its useful life.

Here you will learn to maintain your water heater so as to lengthen its useful life and greatly reduce those awful instants of cold water.

Water Heater Maintenance: Life Cycle

Even though you cannot accurately determine the lifecycle of a water heater, if properly maintained, a water heater of good quality can have a lifecycle between 8 and 12 years.

There are also many varied factors affecting this, such as electricity anomalies, water heater quality, and the mineral mass in the water.

Frequent maintenance of your water heater can significantly impact your electricity bills by enabling a greater efficiency.

Deposits of mineral crystals remains one of the greatest threats to water heater survival.

Heating element replacement as well as whole tanks is quite expensive and can be easily avoided by some minor maintenance.

A fit water heater is described by its insulation, cleanness, and lack of wiring faults.

The following tips offers ideas on the proper maintenance of your customary tank water heater.

Electric Water Heaters

Water heater maintenance does not necessarily require an expert approach. It can simply be done by most homeowners.

In any case, it is essential to keep in mind that water heaters utilize electricity and these two are not good together.

The first step towards maintaining your water heater should be to disconnect its power supply.

Most times, this can be done by flipping the right breaker switch in the box.

If you are not sure about your water heater wiring, then check in with a skilled electrician to avoid getting electrocuted.

Gas and Electric

Sacrificial anode rods normally have a magnesium or aluminum construction around a wire of steel.

Their function is to prevent the formation of rust on the water heater tank, and they should be replaced as soon as the steel wire becomes visible.

If you heater has two rods, ensure to inspect them often.

If your water is forceful, your frequency of inspection of the anode rods will have to increase.

However, your anode rods should be inspected on an annual or semi-annual basis.

Inspect the Dip Tube

The dip tubes are responsible for directing cold water supply to get heated at the water heater base.

These do not come with all water heaters, but if yours has it, then you’ll need to inspect them every 6 months for failure or corrosion.

You need to completely remove the dip tube and check its length against the water heater height.

In reality, it should be shorter than the tank by about 6 to 8 inches.

If shorter, or showing signs of crumbling or breakage, then it should be replaced.

A water heater with a top hot outlet and a top cold inlet and without a dip tube will have water flow directly from the cold inlet into the hot outlet when in use, and the water gotten from their faucet will not be very hot.

With this you might think that there is no power to the unit, or that the thermostats or elements are broken.

For gas water heaters, one might think that the gas valve, thermocouple or pilot light have malfunctioned.

Water Heater Maintenance: Flushing

Flushing of your water heater should be done annually or thereabout.

This would help to remove sediments accumulated in the tank, thereby also preserving the heating element as well as the tank.

If your water heater is turned off in the winter, then you have to drain the tank completely to avoid flooding in your absence.

Also remember to refill before switching it on again.

As you carry out other maintenance on your water heater, ensure to also check the piping structure for damages or leakages.

Leakages may result in further damage to your surroundings, so pipe leakages should be repaired while damaged ones replaced immediately.

Relief Valve

The relief valve keeps your water heater protected against excess temperatures and pressure.

Installation on all tank-type water heaters is legally required.

Ensure to check every few years that your relief valve still functions normally.

You need to be cautious when testing your relief valve after ensuring that the discharged water follows a drain so it does not get all over the place.

Keep in mind that the water from your relief valve will be hot, so the right precautions should be taken.

If constant dripping is observed from your relief valve even after the test, or if it has lasted longer than the warranty of your water heater, then you should just have it replaced.


Keeping your electric water heater wrapped in insulation will maintain your water temperature of longer periods and thereby lower your electricity bills.

As such, it can help to extend the lifespan of the heating element, not needing to switch on and off very often.

Periodic checking of the heating element can help against sudden hot water interruption.

You need to replace these elements occasionally.

Quickly do a visual check to determine if it needs a change instead of wait for a crisis.


Every 3 months at least, you need to inspect the air supply and water heater venting system.

Inspect the water heater for blockages and vent piping damages.

Ensure that there is no corrosive or flammable item around the exhaust venting to guard against fires.

Any corroded or damaged parts of the venting system needs to be replaced.

Also, the cause must be fixed in order to prevent its recurrence.

Inspecting the Pilot Light

The pilot light serves an ignition function for the gas burner which heats up your water.

You need a neatly burning and rightly attuned pilot light for proper functional efficiency of your water heater.

The pilot light should be blue/green (propane) or blue (natural gas) with only a little yellow at its tip.

If you observe a weak flame, yellow flame, or split flame (one which has more than one tip), then you need to adjust or repair your pilot light.

Water Heater Maintenance: Quality Selection

Low-quality water heaters cannot be helped even by the best maintenance available.

The choice of superior products will ensure durability.

We recommend the Rinnai tankless water heater installation for endless hot water and energy efficiency.

Related Content: Water Heater Flush

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