Water Heater Maintenance: 7 Important Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

Water heaters are pricey. They cost anywhere from $400 to $800 to run and potentially thousands to replace. Still, they’re essential parts of your home. Without water heaters, you wouldn’t have hot showers or clean dishes.

But, if there were a way to reduce water heater expenditures, would you? We’d assume the answer is “yes,” but the question becomes, “How can I save money on my water heater?”

The answer is proper water heater maintenance. You must schedule regular water heater maintenance if you don’t want to spend much money on water heater repairs or a replacement.

But water heater maintenance involves more than checking for leaks. We’ve put together a checklist you should follow if you want the most out of your heater.

Below are seven water heater maintenance tips to help you avoid pricey heater repairs and keep your unit in tip-top shape.

1. Perform Regular Inspections

Sometimes water heater maintenance can be as simple as giving the unit a once-over every few weeks. Here are a few signs you may have an issue with your hot water heater:

  • No hot water

    • The water is not heating

    • Taking too long to heat

    • Running out quickly

  • Strange noises

    • Water heater making strange noises you’ve never heard before

  • Bad smells

    • Water heaters shouldn’t smell

    • Bad smells may come from bacteria from sediment build-up

  • Leaking

    • Dripping pipes and puddles may mean leaks

If you spot any issues we discussed or corroded pipes and valves, you may want to contact a water heater company. The draft hood and gas fittings are the most important things to check on gas heaters.

While we’re on the subject of inspection, it’s also a good idea to get yearly water heater servicing done by a professional. You can visually inspect a heater for damage, but call a professional if you see any listed issues.

For example, you should call a plumber to handle bad smells from your water heater. Fixing this may involve taking apart the piping, which may be difficult for you. A professional, however, can handle the job with ease.

2. Check the Pressure Valve

The pressure relief valve releases pressure from inside the tank and releases water inside. You’ll (usually) find this valve on top of gas and electric water heaters.

If the pressure release valve becomes damaged, you can’t regulate the temperature and pressure inside your hot water tank. To check the pressure release valve, cut power to the tank and place a bucket underneath.

Next, gently pull the lever, so a small stream of water flows into the bucket. There should only be about a quarter cup of water. Once done, release the valve, so it rapidly pops back into place.

If the pressure valve doesn’t snap into place quickly, you need a new one. However, you should really consider hiring a professional to handle the repair.

3. Drain Your Water Tank Annually

A critical piece of annual water heater maintenance you should perform is draining. Draining your water heater yearly will clear the tank’s bottom of accumulated sediment.

Too much build-up inside your hot water tank can reduce lifespan and even destroy your unit. While plenty of companies will provide low-price water heater installation, the goal here is to avoid doing so as long as possible.

Draining the water heater each year will help elongate your unit’s lifespan. Make sure you kill power to the heater and let it cool off before you begin the drainage process.

4. Adjust the Water Heater When You Leave Home

The next of our water heater maintenance tips may never have occurred to you, but think about it. You’re not at home to use your hot water heater, so why keep the temperature high?

One way to keep your unit damage free is to set the temperature to “vacation levels.” These vacation level settings are lower than usual to help conserve energy and keep the tank from making hot water.

You won’t damage your heater or waste money on hot water you’re not using, as heating water contributes to high electrical bills.

5. Pick the Right Temperature Setting

Part of regular water heater maintenance is maintaining the correct temperature inside your unit. Typically, you shouldn’t set your heater above 120° Fahrenheit.

Keeping the temperature at 120° Fahrenheit or below helps keep your heater’s internal components in working condition.

Higher temperatures may burn parts of your heater’s machinery. Higher water temperatures also raise your electric bill.

6. Insulate Your Heater

Insulating your unit is another water heater maintenance tip you can try. Insulation will help keep warmth inside your heater’s tank, making the water inside heat faster.

Additional insulation should be part of your annual water heater maintenance checklist. The added protective layer will keep your water hotter during the colder months.

Insulation may help lower electrical bills also. If your heater can reuse heat already created thanks to the insulation, it won’t need as much electricity to warm water.

7. Remove Surrounding Flammable Materials

Cleaning around your unit is also part of water heater maintenance. The basement – or other out-of-the-way rooms – is usually home to water heaters and potentially combustible materials.

Paint, cleaning chemicals, and gas often find their home near water heaters. You should find another spot to store these materials to reduce the chances of a fire.

A house fire would cause more significant issues than needing water heater repairs. No disaster is worth possible injury, losing your home, or worse.

Start Your Water Heater Maintenance Today!

If you’ve wondered how to save money and preserve your water heater, we hope we have helped you with this article. A lot of water heater maintenance is preventative. The goal is to prevent damage before it happens.

You should do simple visual inspections and hire a water heater servicing contractor yearly. It’s also helpful to turn the temperature down when you’re out of town.

If you found this article helpful, there’s plenty more on our website. Try our home improvement tab if you want more articles like this.