Water Heater Maintenance: What You Need To Know

Posted on: 10 February 2015

Water heaters can easily disappear from your radar. They are usually in a discreet location, they generally don't make much noise and unless you are missing hot water, you may not notice that they are malfunctioning. If you are looking to prolong the life and efficiency of your hot water heater, scheduled maintenance is key to accomplishing just that. Below are 3 helpful maintenance steps you can incorporate to keep your hot water heater functioning at its peak performance.


Temperature plays a key role in the life of your water heater. If the temperature is too hot, the water heater will run far more than it needs to. This will increase your electricity bill as well as decrease the life of your unit. Water temperature also plays a role in the amount of erosion that takes place inside the tank. Energy.gov suggests temperature be set at 120 degrees or less. This temperature will protect the life of your hot water heater and reduce your overall cost to operate.


On your hot water heater, you will find a temperature pressure release valve, which is sometimes referred to as TPR valve. If you cannot locate your TPR valve consult your user's manual or a professional, such as Rakeman Plumbing. The purpose of the TPR valve is to regulate the pressure within the water tank. As pressure builds, the valve will automatically release water pressure through a drain pipe. Your water heater should have a 'test' function to check to see if the valve is doing its job. Press the 'test' button to see if and how much water is released when pressed. If water trickles out or doesn't come out at all, your valve is no longer working correctly.

Corrosion, age, rust and salt are all contributing factors to valves that no longer work. This valve must be handled with care and checked frequently to ensure it is working properly. If you are uncomfortable testing this value, hire a professional to complete the job.


Sediment and other debris can build up in a water heater over time. You can perform a DIY flush to clear the debris from the tank. To do this, you simply put a bucket under the drain valve. Turn the drain valve to release a few gallons of water and voila, you've drained your hot water heater. Doing this will prevent the buildup in your water heater from rusting and damaging the tank.

It is important to remember that, depending on the age of your tank and the length since the last flush, you may have a substantial buildup in the bottom of your tank. When the water rushes out, this gunk can clog your drain valve, leaving you with a valve you can't close completely. If you are worried about this happening, call a professional. Professional plumbers have the ability and tools necessary to successfully drain your hot water heater quickly and easily.

It's not hard to take a water heater for granted. They are out of sight and likely out of mind. Don't neglect yours anymore! Check the temperature and pressure to make sure it is operating correctly. Lastly, perform a flush every so often to rid the tank of that nasty buildup.