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How To Perform Preventative Maintenance On Your Water Heater

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Your water heater is an essential component of your home plumbing system. Without a functional water heater, you're forced to wash dishes, do laundry, and even bathe with cold water. For this reason, it's necessary to ensure that your water heater remains operational as long as possible. Perform these three forms of preventative maintenance to increase the lifespan of your water heater:

Drain Sediment From Your Tank

Small amounts of minerals and sediment remain in your water supply even after passing through your local water treatment facility. Due to the design of your water heater, these materials will accumulate at the base of your tank while you continue to draw more and more water through your water tank.

Cold water that enters your water tank flows through a dip tube. Your dip tube releases water near the bottom of your tank so that the water is given time to absorb the heat produced by your burner assembly or heating elements. When you call for hot water through one of your plumbing fixtures, a pipe at the top of your tank pulls the water through your hot water supply lines. Due to this design, sediment and minerals accumulating at the base of your tank will remain undisturbed.

When these materials collect inside your tank, they'll reduce the water capacity of your tank. If you have an electric water heater, then sediment and mineral buildup can cover your lower heating element and cause it to fail.

Begin draining your tank by shutting off your water heater's power and water supply. Screw your garden hose onto the drain valve at the bottom of your tank and open your tank's temperate and pressure relief valve (the small valve protruding from the side of your tank). When the other end of your garden hose is in a suitable location, open your drain valve and let your tank drain. Close your drain valve once the water exiting your hose is clear.

Replace Your Corroded Anode Rod

Your tank's anode rod eliminates any corrosive minerals that enter your water tank. However, as your anode rod attracts and neutralizes the corrosive minerals in your water, it deteriorates and becomes less effective. Once your anode deteriorates down to its steel core, it will no longer prevent corrosive minerals from damaging other components of your water tank--such as your dip tube, heating elements (in an electric heater), or tank lining.

To replace your anode rod, find the 1 and 1/16th inch bolt on the lid of your tank. Back out the bolt using a breaker bar and socket. If you have trouble loosening the bolt, then gain more leverage by using a longer breaker bar. Once the bolt is broken loose, pull it out of your tank to remove your anode rod.

Purchase a replacement anode rod from your local home improvement store and wrap its threads with plumber's tape. Guide the replacement anode through the slot in your tank's lid and tighten it with your breaker bar and socket. Inspect your anode at least once a year and replace it when necessary.

Inspect Your Heating Components

If you have a gas water heater, then your burner assembly can sustain wear when moisture or debris accumulates inside your combustion chamber. Shut off the gas supply to your heater and open the access door underneath your water tank. Use a rag to absorb any moisture inside your combustion chamber. If debris is present in your chamber, blast it away using an air compressor.

If you have an electric water heater, then your heating elements are located inside your water tank. It's best to leave the task of inspecting and testing your elements to a professional plumber to avoid causing accidental damage to your appliance.

Now that you know how to prolong the life of your water heater through preventative maintenance, determine which form of maintenance to perform first. If your water tank is only about a year old, then a tank draining and heating inspection are all that's required. However, if your tank is more than a few years old, then you should also inspect and replace your anode rod if necessary. If you have trouble performing any of these forms of maintenance, then hire your local plumbing repair company to perform maintenance for you.

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13 January 2015