No matter the outside temperature, you rely on your water heater every day of the year. You use it to clean your dishes, wash dirty clothes, and fill up your tub for a relaxing end-of-the-day bath. That’s why, when your water heater breaks down, this situation is more than a minor inconvenience-it quickly escalates into a major hassle.
If your water heater breaks down constantly, you could have one or several culprits to blame. You can’t control some of these factors, such as unexpected sub-zero temperatures and burst pipes. But others, like choosing soft water over hard and practicing preventative maintenance, can put your water heater’s lifespan firmly back in your control.
Read our post below and discover how to help your water heater function for years to come.
1. Get Rid of Hard Water
Since you use your water heater every day, many things take a constant toll on it. However, no other factor hits it quite as hard as hard water. Over time, the sediments in hard water build up in your water heater, and they slow its efficiency and effectiveness.
Hard water creates problems no matter what type of water heater you use. If you have a gas heater, calcium and magnesium often drift to the tank’s bottom and form a thick, durable layer. The heat then has to work twice as hard to move through the build-up and heat the water. And if you have an electric heater, lime will both create a firm layer on the tank’s bottom and build up on the electric components.
Unfortunately, draining your water heater doesn’t entirely remove hard water deposits. Instead, you need to flush the water heater after you drain it. This flushing can scrub some of the deposits from the electrical components or the tank’s bottom, but it doesn’t always remove the deposits completely.
If you have hard water, you might have to flush your water heater as frequently as every three months. You should also turn down your water heater’s temperature since high temperatures cause hard water’s chemicals to adhere even more closely to the tank’s bottom.
For the best results, switch from hard water to soft water. Soft water doesn’t have such a harsh toll on your water heater or pipes. And instead of draining your heater every three months, you should only have to drain and clean it once a year. You won’t get build-up from calcium and magnesium, and you should save money on your energy bill overall.
2. Practice Preventative Water Heater Maintenance
The best way to avoid expensive repairs is to treat your water heater right. Add water heater maintenance to your semi-annual cleaning list. Include such tasks as the following:
- Dust your water heater. When too much dust builds up on a gas heater’s exterior, it can clog the air ducts and reduce efficiency.
- Check for rust on your water heater’s exterior. Leaks can cause rust, which will only create bigger holes and more damage with time.
- Test the temperature and release valve to ensure it opens and closes correctly. If it doesn’t, call a professional for help. As mentioned above, drain your water heater at least once a year. If more than 4 people use your water heater, consider draining it every 8 months. If more than 6 people use it, drain it every 6 months.
- Consult your owner’s manual to see how often your water heater requires general professional servicing.
- Check the thermostat periodically. Your water should be hot enough to kill bacteria but cool enough to prevent scalding.
Additionally, keep yourself, your home, and your water heater safe by installing a carbon monoxide detector near your water heater. Remember never to store items, especially flammable ones, around this appliance either. Always give it at least a two-foot berth.
3. Diagnose Problems Right Away
It’s easy to put off small repairs, especially if you worry you don’t have the money to deal with them. However, when it comes to water heaters, small problems can blossom into large ones overnight.
In most cases, you’ll save money in the long run if you call a professional or deal with the repair yourself right away. Plus, water heater repairs will quickly increase your unit’s efficiency and trim your energy bill down to a manageable size.
Look out for these common problems and perform repairs as soon as you can:
- Leaks. Since water heaters leak boiling hot water, most people call professionals to deal with the problem. Depending on the leak’s size and your water heater’s age, you might need to replace your water heater entirely.
- Rattling noises. If strange noises issue from your water heater, calcium and magnesium build-ups from hard water might bounce around inside. Drain your water heater to remove the sediment. Call a professional if this tactic doesn’t solve the noise problem.
- Cold water. If your water heater refuses to produce hot water, first check that the pilot light is on and the filter is dust free. Drain and flush the tank. If the water stays cold, call the experts.
When you follow these three tips, you take a few more steps toward a fully functional water heater. Enjoy the warm water, and talk to your water conditioning company to install a softener today.