With some simple maintenance and adjusting the settings, you extend the life of your water heater and ensure it runs as efficiently as possible. The thermostat on your water heater controls the temperature of the water. The factory setting is often around 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This high temperature isn’t necessary for most homes and ends up costing more in energy bills. Turning down the temperature to 120 degrees F provides comfortably hot water for most uses while reducing energy usage. Just be careful not to set it too low, as bacteria can grow in water below 115 degrees.
Inspect and flush the tank
Minerals like calcium and magnesium in water form deposits and scale on the inside of your water heater over time. Its buildup reduces efficiency and causes premature failure. Once a year, drain a few gallons out of the tank using the drain valve. If you see sediment or scale particles, it’s time to flush the tank. It involves attaching a hose to the drain valve and completely draining the tank. Once empty, close the valve and refill the tank, rinsing away the scale and sediment.
Inside the tank are one or more anode rods, usually made of aluminum or magnesium. They attract corroding chemicals to protect the steel tank. Check the anode rod after 3 years and replace it if it’s more than half worn away. Replacing rods periodically extends the life of your water heater.
Keep the exterior clean
Dust and grime buildup on the outside of a water heater causes corrosion and reduces heat transfer. A few times a year, wipe down the exterior with a wet cloth. Pay close attention to the bottom, looking for any rust or leaks. Immediately repair any leaks you find to prevent further damage. Gas water heaters require proper venting to safely remove exhaust gases. Make sure the vent pipe leading outside is not blocked or damaged. Look for rust, abnormal bends, or disconnected joints. Vent pipes should be replaced if they show any signs of blockage or deterioration.
Change the anode rod
Most water heaters have an anode rod to attract corrosion away from the steel tank. This sacrificial rod wears away over time and needs Vaucluse plumbing replacement service every 5 years or so. Doing this can double the life of your water heater. Locate the anode rod in the tank or near the inlet/outlet pipes. Remove it with a socket wrench and replace it with a new magnesium or aluminum rod. Insulating a hot water tank reduces standby heat losses by 25-45%.
Drain and flush annually
Sediment buildup in the tank reduces efficiency and leads to corrosion. Open the valve and let out a few gallons, until the water runs clear. It flushes out mineral deposits and sediment so they don’t accumulate in the tank. Finish by completely draining the tank. Newer energy-efficient models reduce water heating bills by 7-12%. Look for the Energy Star and EF ratings when shopping for a replacement.