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Water Heater Maintenance Basics

Photo: Ryan Benyi
Photo: Ryan Benyi

Regular maintenance for your water heater is a crucial part of keeping it running efficiently and economically. That’s why we recommend having an expert from R.S. Andrews perform a water heater inspection and tune-up annually – our experienced technicians can fix problems before they occur, and ensure that your system is well calibrated to provide you with many years of reliable service.

Cleaning Your Burners

If you have a gas water heater, cleaning the gas burners of any carbon residue or other buildup will be part of your maintenance regimen. Your R.S. Andrews technician will also check flues and vents to determine if there are any signs of exhaust fume leakage, and make sure any necessary repairs to these areas are carried out as well.

The “Sacrificial Anode”

Water heaters powered by both gas and electricity both contain what’s called a “sacrificial anode,” which is a special kind of metal rod suspended inside the water tank that acts to redirect corrosion caused by electrolytic processes occurring when water heats up. Instead of corroding the tank itself, the “sacrificial anode” absorbs the corrosion, extending the life of the tank drastically, but also making checking and replacement of this component a necessary part of water heater maintenance.

An R.S. Andrews technician will assess the integrity of this anode during his service visit, and replace it if necessary.

Release the Pressure

Another major focus of any water heater inspection is the temperature and pressure relief valve, which is simply a safety device that opens automatically when pressure and heat in the system exceed safe levels. Sometimes sediment can build up on temperature and pressure relief valves, damaging it and increasing the chance of system failure. Your R.S. Andrews service technician can check this component and replace if it is shown to be malfunctioning.

Drain and Re-fill

Any annual water heater inspection will also include fully draining the water heater, thoroughly cleaning the inside of the tank while it is empty, and then refilling it. Cleaning the interior of the water heater will help make it run more efficiently as well as prolong its life span.

DIY Water Heater Maintenance

As with any aspect of your home plumbing and HVAC systems, there are some simple steps you can take as a homeowner to maintain your water heater between visits from the pros at R.S. Andrews.

  • Partially drain the water two to four times a year to minimize sediment buildup. You can do this by shutting off the heater, attaching a garden hose to the drainage valve (located near the bottom of the tank), and draining off about a bucketful of water.
  • Perform a periodic test on your temperature and pressure relief valve, located near the top of the water tank, by pulling part way up on the valve’s lever and then releasing it. You should hear a gurgling sound when you lift the lever as water drains downward from the vertical tube that feeds into the valve. If you don’t see and hear evidence that water is draining in this way, call R.S. Andrews for a replacement valve ASAP.
  • Keep the area around the hot water heater as free from dust, dirt and clutter as possible to reduce your risk of fire.

At R.S. Andrews, our goal is to help homeowners get the most out of their water heater, so call today if you have any questions about your system or if you want to schedule a service visit. Our technicians have over 40 years of experience keeping Atlanta’s water heaters working efficiently and helping you save money on your energy bills, and we are glad to answer any and all questions about getting the most out of your water heater.

Tankless Hot Water Heaters

You may also be interested in upgrading to a tankless water heater – check out Smiley’s blog post on tankless water heaters for information, or give us a call to ask how these innovative heaters can save you money and give you better hot water service in your home.

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