Keeping things cool may be more of a top priority right now given the season, but we all still need hot water in our homes. Your water heater works every day, so it pays to maintain it properly.
Regular maintenance will keep it working for longer, and that saves you money and inconvenience. Even though you do sensible maintenance, there will still come a point when your water heater has reached the end of its working life and a new one will need to be installed.
Let’s look at how you can keep it working, and some tell-tale signs that water heater replacement may be needed.
Regular water heater maintenance is key
The best way to keep your hot water heater working is to look after it. While a thorough water heater tune-up from a professional technician on an annual basis is HIGHLY recommended, there are a couple once-a-year jobs you can do:
Drain and flush
All water heaters collect sediment. It builds up in the bottom of the tank, and will eventually cost you more to heat the water and will shorten the tank’s life. That’s why draining and flushing the tank annually to get rid of sediment build-up is highly recommended.
Replace the Anode Rod
Water rusts metal over time, which is why most tanks have an anode rod to limit the tank rusting. The anode rod, also called the A rod or sacrificial anode rod, hangs inside the tank. If you look at the top of the tank, you’ll see a large hexagonal bolt, or a circular cover about two inches in diameter. The anode rod, itself, is about four feet long and it reacts with the hot water. As a result, the water eats at the rod instead of eating away at the tank. By replacing the rod every year, you’ll better protect the tank and prolong its lifespan.
When in doubt, be sure to call a professional hot water heater technician (like Pronto!) to do them for you. The cost of having the jobs done for you will be more than repaid by your tank lasting longer and you having lower utility bills.
Something you can do, yourself, is to check the tank’s condition. Are there any rust spots or can you see any signs of leaks? When you look at the thermostat can you see any soot or other discoloration? These are signs that the tank might be failing. It’s best to check and call in a professional, rather than waiting until the tank fails completely.
When Your Water Heater Needs to Be Replaced
There are some definite signs that tell you water heater replacement is needed:
- Your tank has leaked gallons of water onto the floor. If the cause is a rusted-out tank, it will need to be replaced since a rusted tank cannot be repaired.
- No hot water – despite a lit pilot light or no electrical issues. This indicates the heating unit has failed, and needs to be replaced.
- You hear bumps, rublings or bangs. This suggests that there is a lot of sediment in the bottom of the tank. The sediment hardens, and so the unit has to work harder to heat the water. As the sediment heats up, it breaks up, bumps up and down, and makes noise. There could come a time when the sediment will win, and the tank may fail as a result.
- Your hot water looks rusty, cloudy or smells. This may be a sign of sediment build-up or, worst case scenario, that the tank is rusting away. At some point it may fail completely.
Tanks have a working life of about 10 to 15 years. The better they’re maintained and the better the water is that comes into your home, the longer they’ll last.
If you notice any of these signs, or would like assistance with regular water heater maintenance, schedule an appointment and we’ll be there Pronto!