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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7 comments
FarrellMackennon
FarrellMackennon

Now these 2 steps here could really save your household money and keep your heaters and boilers working for longer. Ask your plumber! They can probably give you more tips on how to practive good long term maintenance habits.

avalaurie86
avalaurie86

Thanks for the diagram of the water heater. I am trying to get more familiar with my system so I can start fixing my own issues. I will keep the diagram in handy for when I need it. http://www.rameyplumbing.com

KentClark1
KentClark1

I like that you mentioned the importance of flushing the water tank. I didn't realize that was necessary. I guess I just thought that it did that task automatically. I'll have to start taking better care of my water tank. I don't want to have to buy a new one. http://www.mountainmechanicalak.com/services 

BobbyRoosco
BobbyRoosco

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