You use your water heater for laundry, washing dishes, or bathing on a daily basis. For this reason, it's necessary you take time out of your busy schedule to maintain it. If you don't maintain your water heater, then you'll soon find yourself in need of a replacement. To ensure your water heater lasts as long as possible, perform these three maintenance tasks:
Regularly Inspect and Replace Your Anode Rod
Although your water supply is partially filtered by your local water treatment facility, it still contains some minerals that can cause severe damage to your water tank. For this reason, water heater manufacturers design their tanks with a built-in anode rod.
Your water heater's anode rod is made of a noble metal that sacrifices itself to protect the steel lining of your tank. When corrosive minerals enter your water tank, they'll corrode the noble metal in your anode rod before attacking the lining of your tank. However, your anode rod can completely deteriorate after it's exposed to a high volume of minerals. If you don't replace your anode rod once it deteriorates, (which may take anywhere between several months to a few years), then the lining of your tank will begin to rust and contaminate your hot water supply.
To inspect or replace your anode rod, shut off the power and water supply to your water heater. Locate the 1-1/16th inch bolt on top of your water heater's lid. When this bolt is removed, you can pull it out of your water tank to reveal your anode rod. If your rod has deteriorated down to its core, then replace it. If your anode rod still has a sufficient amount of remaining metal, but is coated in calcium bicarbonate (a white, powdery substance), then it will still need to be replaced. Calcium bicarbonate will prevent the corrosive minerals in your water supply from coming into contact with your anode rod.
Inspect your anode rod every couple months to determine whether or not it requires replacement.
Drain Your Tank Every Year
Although your anode rod neutralizes the corrosive minerals in your water supply, it doesn't remove them from your tank. Minerals and sediment that flow into your water tank are not removed by drawing water through your faucets or shower heads. This is due to a fatal flaw in your water tank's design.
Water that enters your tank flows towards the bottom of your tank through a dip tube. When you call for hot water through one of your plumbing fixtures or appliances, the hot water is pulled from the top of your tank. Since minerals and sediment particles are heavier than water, they'll remain at the bottom of your tank.
These contaminants can reduce the amount of water held by your tank. Additionally, if you have an electric water heater, a buildup of debris at the bottom of your tank can damage your lower heating element. For this reason, you should drain your water tank every year.
To drain your tank, shut off the power and water supply to your water heater and attach your garden hose to the small drain valve at the base of your tank. Set the other end of your garden hose into a bucket in your yard. Open both your temperate and pressure relief valve and your drain valve to begin draining your tank. Continue draining your tank until the water inside your bucket is crystal clear.
If you have trouble removing your anode rod or draining your tank, then contact a professional plumber, like one from Christian Brothers Plumbing Repipe/Broken Water Pipe Service, to perform these maintenance tasks for you. If you continue performing these water heater maintenance tasks without knowing exactly what you're doing, you can cause further damage to your water heater and increase your repair costs.