The water heater is one of those workhorse appliances that people tend to install and forget about; however, they require maintenance just like any other appliance. If you want to lengthen the lifespan of your water heater and cut down on the cost of repairs, you will need to perform some routine water heater maintenance tasks, which will depend on the type of water heater in your home. Two popular water heater types are electric tankless water heaters and storage water heaters.
A storage water heater has an insulated tank that stores water and is heated up even when water is not being used. Tankless water heaters use heating elements to heat water on demand as it passes through the unit.
Here are some water heater maintenance tips for both types:
Storage Water Heater Maintenance
- Inspect the Water Heater
Perform an inspection every couple of months to make sure there are no leaks. Check for gas leaks by visually inspecting the flex hose and couplings and by smelling for gas. You should have your water heater inspected by a professional at least once a year.
- Remove Sediment
Over time, sediment will accumulate within the tank and reduce its efficiency. If you do not take steps to remove the buildup, you could wind up having to replace the unit. You should therefore flush the water heater every few months. Getting sediment out of a storage water heater is fairly simple; the only tool you will need is a bucket. Turn the spigot at the base of the heater on and let the water flow into the bucket until it is clear.
- Replace the Anode Rod
If you see rust particles in the water upon draining the tank, this may be an indication that your water heater’s anode rod needs to be replaced. The anode rod prevents corrosion in your tank by attracting the chemicals that can cause rusting.
A licensed plumber is best equipped to perform a thorough inspection and can handle tasks like removing the sediment, flushing the tank, and replacing the anode rod.
Tankless Water Heater Maintenance
Tankless water heaters operate very differently than storage tank water heaters, which means that water heater maintenance can be challenging if you are unfamiliar with the technology. It may be best to hire a licensed plumber to help with these maintenance items:
- Inspect the Wiring
Open the unit’s cover and check the wiring for signs of wear. If there is evidence of wear, call a professional right away. You should also avoid using the unit until it has been repaired.
- Flush the Unit
Just like with standard storage water heaters, flushing is an important part of water heater maintenance with electric tankless water heaters. You can flush the system with white vinegar to remove sediment.
- Clean the Filter
Your tankless unit may have a water filter that should be cleaned at least once a year. The cleaning procedure involves turning off the water supply and removing the drain valve and filter which can then be cleaned with a brush.
Before performing any kind of water heater maintenance on an electric tankless unit, be sure to turn the electricity off.
When compared to storage water heaters, water heater maintenance procedures for tankless units are simple enough that you may be able to handle them yourself. However, you should leave any wire wear discovered during an inspection to a professional.