Your water heater is a vital part of your home, and the last thing you want to do is experience an issue or total breakdown of your water heater. Even if you purchase the best water heater on the market, without proper upkeep, it can still fail. However, with the proper preventative maintenance and taking additional precautions, you can keep your water heater working in great shape.
Let’s take a look at a few tips to extend a water heater’s lifespan, including what to do for regular maintenance to help you extend its lifespan and keep it working in good condition.
Do Regular Water Heater Maintenance Checks
Preventative maintenance checks should always be done to catch and fix any issues before they cause a huge, costly headache down the road and extend a water heater’s lifespan.
First, one of the easiest things you can do is make sure you have enough room around your water heater so that it has room to “breathe.”
This reduces the risk of overheating and fires. Keep tools and other items away from the water heater and keep the area clean as well.
Next, check for cracks, leaks, gaps, and anything that looks out of place or wrong with the outside of the water heater. You can always call in a professional if you’re unsure.
If you spot a leak, it may only need to be tightened, but it also could mean a larger problem. This is why regular checks are essential; that small leak could lead to a huge water leak that causes extensive damage to your home later on.
Test the Pressure-Relief Valve
Testing the pressure-relief valve is vital to elongating your water heater’s lifespan. If the pressure gets too high, the valve opens automatically because the water heater will explode if there is too much excess pressure. To test it, check the top or side of your water heater to find the valve. Once you’ve found it, put a bucket under the discharge pipe and lift the lever.
Sometimes to extend the water heater’s lifespan, you’ll have to replace the pressure valve too. Generally, they need to be replaced every few years. During the same testing process as before, if you don’t see any water come out when you lift the lever, it’s time to replace the pressure valve.
To do this, first, turn the water off and drain the tank. Next, unscrew the discharge pipe and the valve. Then, wrap the replacement valve in sealant tape and screw the valve in.
Draining sediment from the water heater tank is important because sediment buildup can increase your energy bills and shorten the water heater’s lifespan. You can remedy this by simply draining two or three gallons of water out of the tank; sediment that has settled at the bottom of the tank will drain out with the water.
Place a bucket under the tank while draining it. Keep draining the tank until you stop seeing sediment in the bucket. Then, keep the water running until the water runs clear.
Add an Expansion Tank
Another great way to expand a water heater’s lifespan is to add an expansion tank, especially when your water heater has a closed system. Closed systems do not backflow into the water main, which means that water has nowhere to go when it expands.
Without an expansion tank, the water heater’s lifespan is cut because the constant pressure changes wear it down. Expansion tanks give the water that doesn’t have a place to go an outlet; this relieves stress on the water heater and reduces wear and tear.
Install a Water Softener
Depending on where you live, especially if water in your area has high mineral content, you may want to install a water softener to help extend your water heater’s lifespan.
Water with high mineral content is considered “hard water,” which can cause problems with your water heater, meaning they’ll have to be replaced sooner than their typical lifespan. In addition, water with high mineral content will leave mineral deposits and a residue that damages water heaters.
You can remedy this by installing a water softener to cut down the degree of mineral deposits inside the tank.
Inspect Gas Lines
Is your water heater connected to a gas line? If so, you need to do regular inspections and preventative maintenance if a problem is found.
Finding a crack or corrosion isn’t a minor issue— these can lead to serious health problems or damage your home and appliances. You have to repair it right away. And more importantly, if you think there is even a slight chance there’s a gas leak, you need to get out of the area and seek help right away. This can lead to severe property damage, health problems, or even death.
When to Replace Your Water Heater
Sometimes, there’s just no avoiding having to replace your water heater. So if you experience any of these signs, it may be time to replace it.
- Only having cold water consistently
- You begin hearing a rumbling noise
- You see moisture accumulating on the outside of the tank
- The water coming out is rusty
Additionally, if your tank is over ten years old, it’s a good idea to have it replaced. If you still are unsure of the state of your water heater, give a certified, professional HVAC technician to come in and take a look. They can help you replace or carry out regular maintenance to extend the water heater’s lifespan.