A Simple Maintenance Routine Will Keep your Water Heater Running Smoothly

If you’ve ever had water heater problems, that experience has likely deeply solidified the importance of these devices in your mind. Hot, running water is a luxury that’s easy to take for granted, and with a little regular love for your water heater, a smooth running, 15-year lifespan is easily achievable.

Benchmark’s Suggested Maintenance

1. Give your water heater two feet of clearance unless otherwise specified by your appliance

Picture of a water heater

2. Insulation could be important for your water heater. While this step is especially important for older water heaters, you can add insulation to newer heaters as well. Adding insulation to your water heater can shave off up to 9% of water-heating costs and has been shown to reduce heat loss by up to 45%.

3.Check the temperature-pressure-release(TPR) valve once a year. Follow the steps below to check for leaks from your TPR valve:

  • Shut off power.
  • Close the cold-water supply valve.
  • The TPR valve will open if tank pressure gets too high, so place a bucket beneath the pipe connected to the valve to avoid a mess.
  • To test the valve, lift the tab briefly to let some water out. Discharge the valve two or three times, keeping an eye on the valve. If water keeps flowing after letting go or you see leaks from the valve itself, replace the valve.
  • To replace the TPR valve, drain your water heater tank, use a pipe wrench to unscrew the old valve and install the new one.
Picture of a water heater

4. Adjust the thermostat to 120 degrees. This is a great money-saver maintenance tip! You can expect 5% energy savings for every 10 degrees you drop the temperature – just make sure you don’t go so low you’re shivering in the shower!

Picture of a water heater

5. Drain about a quarter of water from the tank two to three times a year. Draining the water tank removes built up sediment and debris that clog up and corrode the interior of your tank. The steps for draining the tank are simple:

  • Turn off the cold-water supply.
  • Attache a garden hose to the drain valve.
  • Open the valve and let it drain a few gallons. If the water remains cloudy, stir up sediment at the bottom of the tank by opening the cool water supply valve. Drain the tank again until the water comes out clear.

6. Check the anode rod once a year. The anode rod, made from aluminum or magnesium, keeps the inside of your tank from rusting out. A tank will rapidly corrode without this device, so checking it regularly and replacing it if necessary, is critical for water heater maintenance. Replace the rod if:

  • The rod is less than ½ inch thick.
  • If the rod is coated with calcium.
  • More than 6 inches of core steel wire is exposed.

7. Going on vacation? Most water heaters have a setting for that! This setting just keeps the pilot light on without wasting energy while you’re gone heating water you won’t use. Flip it on when you leave – just don’t forget to flip it back when you get home!