Maximizing the Lifespan of Your Water Heater

The average lifespan of a water heater is about 10 to 12 years. Proper water heater maintenance can dramatically increase the life of the system and also keep operating costs as low as possible. Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t have the same awareness for water heater maintenance as they do for furnaces and air conditioners. Here’s what you can do to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your investment.

First of all, the quality of the water entering your water heater is going to make a huge difference. If you have hard or acidic water, it’s going to drastically reduce the life of your water heater. Regardless of whether it uses electricity or gas, there’s going to be an anode rod in the tank. This anode, often made of magnesium, is designed to corrode so that the lining of the tank is preserved. It’s a sacrificial anode, meaning that the corrosive properties of the water are going to eat away at the anode instead of the tank. The anode should be checked on a regular basis to ensure that there’s still enough material left to deal with the corrosive properties of the water.

Next is the T&P valve, which stands for Temperature & Pressure valve. The T&P valve is there to make sure that the water heater doesn’t explode. There’s a metal pipe that runs down the side of the tank. (Sometimes you might see a little bit of water dripping out of it.) The T&P valve is located at the top of that pipe. The pipe runs down to the floor because pressurized hot water should be forced downward instead of potentially towards people or walls. When we go out to your home, we’re going to open up the T&P valve to make sure it’s relieving pressure properly. The manufacturer of the valve and water heater say that it should be inspected and opened annually.

Unfortunately, most people don’t even think about the danger of having a 40 to 80 gallon tank that is full of pressure. Keep in mind, as it heats up, pressure builds up as well. If there’s no way to relieve excessive pressure, the consequences could be disastrous. The water heater could explode and become a missile that flies right through the roof of the house. In fact, a personal friend of mine had that happen to him close to 15 years ago. He was standing near the water heater at the time. It blew him across the room, and he was fortunate that he wasn’t badly injured. It ended up causing $93,000 of damage to his home.

There are subtle signs you may be ignoring that are warning you that the water heater needs attention. Maybe your operating costs are increasing or the amount of hot water being produced is decreasing. As a family, you’ll see that you need to take shorter showers. Maybe you can’t do the laundry and the dishes at the same time. If you’re having to compensate because of diminishing capacity that should be a clear sign that something in the water heater needs attention. You might also be seeing a slowly rising utility bill. Because there are so many variables that could cause this, it might be hard to pinpoint the cause at your water heater.

If sediment has built up in the bottom of the water heater tank, it can harden over time and eventually become similar to clay or concrete. It would be nearly impossible to flush the water heater at this point. If you instead flush the tank on a regular basis, the sediment won’t have a chance to build up and cause problems. Think about what would happen if there was nearly a foot of sediment buildup in the water heater. It functions very closely to a teapot, especially if it’s a gas water heater. All of that sediment has to heat up first before the water will reach the proper temperature. Aside from increasing your utility bill, imagine how much more stress this puts on the tank itself. When we check your water heater we’ll also be looking at those heating elements to make sure that they are operating within spec.

Remember, don’t wait until you find yourself facing a major water heater problem. Take care of your investment with preventative maintenance. Give us a call or contact us online today. For complete peace of mind, we suggest joining our TotalCare Plan.