Help Your Water Heater Last for Years to Come...
As with all household appliances, water heaters need regular maintenance. You should consult your owners manual for warnings and guidance before attempting service or repair. If you do not have a manual, you should be able to obtain one by calling or writing to the manufacturer. You may even be able to request one on the internet. Since our directions are very general, if any of the instructions in your Owners Manual or on the unit itself are different in any way than what you read here, follow your manufacturers guidance!
The frequency of servicing needed is dependent upon a number of things, such as: the age and type of the unit, the hardness of the water (the amount of minerals dissolved in the water) and whether or not you have a water softening system. At a minimum, check out your water heater at least once a year. Listed below are some things you can probably do yourself. However, if you feel uncertain about performing any of these steps yourself, we highly recommend that you contact a professional. (Click gas or electric for a picture!)
1. Pressure Relief Valve - Manually operate the valve to make sure it is not seized. Just move it up and down a few times and be sure it returns to its original position. Also, listen for the sound of running water and check to see that it is draining either to a floor drain, or ultimately to the outside of the building (by way of the Pressure Relief Drain Pipe).
2. Electric Water Heaters - Prior to draining, the electricity needs to be shut off so the heating element does not burn out. Determine which circuit breaker controls the units power and move it to the off position. Look at the electrical connection at the top of the water heater for loose or frayed wires. Remember, if the wires dont look right, have an electrician check it out! Follow steps below for draining and refilling tank
or Gas Water Heaters - Prior to draining, clean the air passages to the burner. To do this, you must first shut off the gas by following the instructions on the unit. Then remove the access cover to the pilot light and burner area. Any dirt or debris should be removed. Also, observe the top of the water heater to be sure that the exhaust flue is secure and nothing is blocking airflow. Gas water heaters should be installed at least 18 inches above the ground. BE SURE NO FLAMMABLE SUBSTANCES ARE STORED IN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO THE UNIT. Follow steps below for draining and refilling tank
3. Draining and Refilling the Water Heater Tank - It is important to drain the tank to remove any sediment and/or sludge from the bottom of the tank. After completing the steps above, turn off the water inlet valve (usually on the pipes at the top of the tank...REMEMBER - Lefty Loosy, Righty Tighty!) Then connect a garden hose to the drain cock at the bottom of the tank. Turn the drain cock to the left and let the tank drain. Next, close the drain cock, disconnect the hose and turn the water inlet valve back on. When you no longer hear the water running, the tank is full. Now, turn the circuit breaker back on or for gas water heaters, light the pilot light by following the directions on the unit. The flame should be blue in color. If not, call the gas company. They should check it for free.
4. Be sure the temperature is set to avoid scalding, especially if there are children in the house!! Check your Owners Manual or look on the water heater for guidance.
These simple steps should help keep your water heater in good working order. However, if you are unsure of anything, its always best to have your unit inspected and/or serviced by a professional.
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