2 Amazingly Simple DIY Water Heater Maintenance Tips

Extending the life of your gas and elec­tric water heater with two simple do-it-yourself main­te­nance tips.

DIY Water Heater Main­te­nance Tips

Are you hearing funny noises coming from your water heater? Does it seem like your hot water supply is less? Have you noticed that your gas or elec­tric bill has increased?

Well, your water heater could be the culprit.

Of all the appli­ances in your home it seems the water heater is ignored most. That is, until it stops working.

Today I’m going to give you two simple do-it-yourself tips that can help extend the life of your water heater and save you some money by reducing energy consumption.

What You Need To Know

First off, it’s impor­tant to know that most water contains minerals and sedi­ment. These minerals and sedi­ment travel throughout your water system and usually end up trapped in your faucet aerator, washing machine hose screens, water filters and your water heater.

I’m sure you’ve prob­ably had a faucet that didn’t flow well or the water started to shoot out to the side. And, if you removed the aerator you would find it was full of sediment.

The same thing happens inside your water heater.

Gas Water Heaters

Gas Water Heater Diagram

Corro­sion, scale, and sedi­ment are the things that cut down the life of your water heater. As the sedi­ment builds up on the bottom of your gas water heater it can increase the amount of time it takes to heat the water, thus using more energy and costing you more money.

Elec­tric Water Heaters

Electric Water Heater Diagram

Inside an elec­tric water heater scale builds up on the elec­trodes that heat the water, also increasing energy consump­tion. The reason scale builds up on the elec­trodes is because the hotter the water becomes, the more scale falls out of solu­tion and clings to the elec­trodes. So if your water heater temper­a­ture is set above 120 degrees, there will likely be more scale on the elec­trodes and more corro­sion of the tank.

There is a sacri­fi­cial anode inside the tank. It’s purpose is to allow the acid in the water to eat away at it, and not the water heater tank. But, once again, if your water tank temper­a­ture is set higher than 120 degrees, the hotter, more acidic, water will eat up that anode much quicker.

And here’s the thing: You won’t even know that the sacri­fi­cial anode is gone until the acid/corrosion either eats a hole in the tank or the elec­trodes stop working. Also, and most obvious, setting your water heater to above 120 degrees is of no benefit to you—it only uses more energy, costing you more money.

Note, having soft water is not neces­sarily a plus because the softer the water the more corro­sion and the harder the water the more scale. So what’s the solution?

Your Two Do-it-Yourself Water Heater Tips

1. Lower Water Heater Temperature

One, lower the temper­a­ture on your water heater to 120 or below. Hey, mine’s at 110 and there are no complaints from the ladies in my house.

Lowering the temper­a­ture on a gas water heater is rela­tively easy. Just turn the dial to the desired temper­a­ture and that’s it.

An elec­tric water heater is quite different. Depending on the tank size, you may have one or two heating elements. These will most likely be located behind small panels on the outside of the water heater. That’s where the temper­a­ture adjust­ments are located.

BEFORE you attempt to adjust the temper­a­ture of your elec­tric water heater you must turn off the elec­tricity to the water heater. Next, consult your owners manual to the proper proce­dure for adjusting the temperature.

If you don’t have one, here is where you can find owner’s manuals.

Next, locate and remove the access panel/s. After the panel is removed you may have to move aside a bit of insu­la­tion to see the temper­a­ture dial. The dial usually has a place to put a small slotted screw­driver in the middle to adjust/turn the pointer to the desired temperature.

Once you have set the temper­a­ture replace the insu­la­tion and panel and you’re done.

2. Drain and Flush Water Heater Tank

It’s recom­mended you drain and flush your tank at least once a year. This helps remove debris and sedi­ment from the tank.

Most water heaters have a plastic drain valve located at the bottom of the tank.

Connect a garden hose to the drain valve. Be Careful, as these valves typi­cally are not of the best quality and can easily break.

Once you have the hose attached to the drain valve Turn off the elec­tricity to the water heater (at the circuit breaker) or turn the gas off to your water heater.

Next, turn off the cold water supply to the water heater. Usually located at the top of the water heater.

Open the drain valve slowly to check for leaks where the hose connects to the valve. If all is well open the valve and let the water drain.

DIY Tip: To make the tank drain faster, open the pres­sure relief valve on the side of the tank.

Once the tank is empty, open the cold water supply on the top of the tank to flush any remaining sedi­ment out. Let the water run for about 1 minute, then turn off the cold water supply.

Once the tank is empty Close the pres­sure relief valve. Then Close the drain valve and discon­nect the hose. Have a towel ready for any mishaps.

Turn the cold water supply back on. Open a faucet in the kitchen or bath­room to relieve the air being flushed from the tank and let it fill.

Once the tank is filled turn off the open faucet and turn on the elec­tricity to your water heater.

For gas water heaters be sure to follow the direc­tions in your manual for turning the gas back on to your water heater.

That’s it. You now have a cleaner more effi­cient water heater, and you did it yourself.

By following these two easy do-it-yourself water heater main­te­nance tips you can save energy, money and add more life to your water heater.

One last DIY Tip: To save even more money, insu­late your water heater.

Just one more useful solu­tion to help you succeed with speed.

If you have ques­tions about your DIY projects, just ask your personal DIY consul­tant. I’m here to help you succeed with speed.

The Complete Guide to Plumbing

The Complete Guide to Plumbing
DIY TIP: Check out “The Complete Guide to Plumbing”, The perfect refer­ence guide for all your DIY plumbing projects. About $17 from Amazon.

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Tank­less Water Heaters

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Thanks again,

Your DIY Answer Guy.
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DIY Help Category Plumbing
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I had no idea that you were supposed to drain and flush your water heater tank. I haven't done that to mine yet and I have had it for two years. My children often come out of the shower with red marks on them because the shower is so hot, so I might turn down the temperature as well. Thanks for the tips. http://www.mikebertolinoplumbing.com