A winter in Chicagoland can be pretty brutal without hot water. Imagine having to shower and wash your hands every day with lukewarm water while it’s freezing outside. Not a pleasant thought, is it? That’s why it is especially important to make sure your water heater is ready to withstand another winter as cold weather is on its way.
If your water heater isn’t functioning properly, it may simply be time to replace it. Most water heaters start to fail after about a decade of usage. But if your water heater is newer than that, there are some ways to keep it running strong and make it operate more efficiently. These tips will help to extend the life of your water heater, so you can go longer without having to buy a whole new system.
Drain/flush the water
About once a year, you should drain at least a few gallons of water from your water heater’s tank. If there’s a lot of sediment or other buildup in the water you drained, it’s a good idea to drain the whole tank and then flush it out briefly. Sediment builds up over time and hardens within the tank. Without an annual flushing, this hardened sediment can wreak havoc within your water heater’s tank, making it run less efficiently and increasing the chance of leaks. Since the buildup of sediment is one of the leading causes for water heaters failing, this step is not one you want to skip.
Replace the Anode Rod
Water heater manufacturers understand that, eventually, their product will corrode on the inside and need to be replaced. To help protect the tank, water heaters are equipped with an anode rod, which is designed to take the brunt of the corrosion, sparing the tank itself. However, anode rods typically don’t last as long as your water heater will. Remove and inspect the anode rod periodically to make sure it is still doing its job. If it is heavily rusted, or if much of its metal surface has been eaten away, it needs to be replaced. Replacing your anode rod every five or six years is a great way to get the most life out of your water heater.
Check the T&P Valve
The T&P valve (short for temperature and pressure relief) exists to protect your water heater in case the water temperature or pressure gets too high. When working properly, the valve should open to allow water or heat to escape. A faulty T&P valve can potentially lead to explosions due to trapped pressure. If your water heater’s T&P valve, upon examination, isn’t allowing air or water and vapor to escape, it should be replaced. Similarly, if the T&P valve is leaking, it is also due for a replacement.
Inspect the Unit Itself
It’s smart to look over the whole water heater to make sure there are no visible concerns. Water leaking from the unit indicates a problem. The same goes for any rusting or other visible damage to the outside of the tank. Check the pipes running to and from the tank to make sure they are still in good condition. If you identify any problems based on this inspection, call a professional to diagnose the problem.
For help in maintaining or replacing your water heater, Service 1 Plumbing, Heating, & A/C has the expertise to get the job done right. Schedule an appointment online or call (815) 694-0022.