Water heaters are taken for granted because they can work great for ten years or more without any maintenance. However, you can extend the life of your water heater, increase its efficiency and safety with just a few minutes of maintenance every year. We will give a few tips to maintaining your hot water heater and extending its life.
**Before performing any maintenance, turn off the electricity to the water heater (Or turn off the gas to extinguish the pilot). Then, shut off the cold water inlet to the water heater. **
Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve
A temperature and pressure relief valve (T&P valve or PRV) helps stabilize the pressure in the tank. If the tank builds too much pressure, the relief valve will open and release that pressure. If the valve doesn’t open, the tank can over-pressurize and even explode. Let’s test this valve to see if it working correctly.
Get a bucket to catch water from the T&P valve. Pull the trip lever on top the valve. You should hear air or see water coming through the pressure relief valve. If you don’t see water, drain the tank and replace the valve. Here is how to replace the valve:
- Turn off the water
- Drain the tank
- Unscrew the discharge pipe and then unscrew the old valve (Measure the stem length to get the right replacement)
- Wrap the threads of the new valve with sealant tape and screw it in, tightening with a wrench
- Reattach the discharge pipe
- Turn on the water and reconnect the electricity or restart the pilot light according to the manufacturer’s instructions (See below tips before reconnecting power).
- If your valve is several years old and has never been tested, it might leak after you test it. In that case, replace the valve.
Replacing the Heating Element
- Disconnect the power to the water heater
- Drain the water tank
- Disconnect wires from the element and loosen it
- Unscrew the element and pull it out, then replace the element
- Reconnect the wiring and refill the tank
- Turn on a hot water faucet and let the water run for three minutes (Make sure all the air has been removed and the tank is completely full of water)
- When the tank is full, turn on the power. If you don’t have hot water after a couple hours, check the voltage. (See the water heater label for power requirements.)
Flushing the Tank
You should flush your tank each time you check the pressure relief valve to prevent sediment buildup and keep your lines unclogged.
- Connect a garden hose to the drain valve
- Open the pressure relief valve, open the drain valve and allow the tank to drain. Completely draining the tank ensures you’ve removed all of the sediment.
- Close the tank drain valve (If the drain valve won’t close tight, unscrew the old valve and replace).
- Disconnect the hose from the drain valve and close the pressure relief valve. Then turn on all the hot water spigots in the house and turn on the cold water inlet to the tank.
- Close each hot water spigot as water begins to flow from it.
- After all faucets are off, turn on the electricity to the water heater, or turn the gas switch to run.
We learned how to check our temperature and pressure relief valve and replace it. We also learned how to replace the heating element and how to fully flush the water tank, removing it of sediment. We hope these tips will help improve the efficiency and life of your tank, giving you hassle free heating.