How long is a water heater supposed to last? Most manufacturers say eight to twelve years. But a lot of homeowners’ water heater may last for only half that time. There are several reasons why your water heater may fail. So, if you don’t want to pay for a premature replacement and you’re willing to carry out some maintenance, these tips will help extend the life of your water heater.
Flush Your Water Heater Once Every Year
You should consider flushing out your water heater at least once a year. This will help keep it in good shape and improve its efficiency.
When sediment builds up in your water heater, it can cause several problems, including premature failure of parts like valves or heat exchangers. Sediment also makes it more difficult to heat your water evenly. This can also reduce efficiency because more energy is required to heat that extra volume of cold water at the bottom of the tank.
Flushing also helps to prevent corrosion. Corrosion can occur when minerals and other contaminants build up inside or around the parts of your tank, causing them to corrode. This means that sooner or later, those parts will need replacing.
Change the Anode Rod
Anode rods are part of the water heater tank and are designed to protect the tank from corrosion. As water heaters age, the steel used in their construction becomes more prone to rust and corrosion.
The anode rod is made of aluminum or magnesium and is installed at the bottom of your tank. It attracts positive ions from the water, which protects your steel tank from corrosion.
In older water heaters, the anode rod may be corroded or missing altogether. This can cause serious damage to your tank because it won’t be protected from rusting.
Check your anode rod every three to five years. Or contact your local plumbing service to book a water heater tune-up – they’ll replace the anode rod for you.
Consider an Expansion Tank
An expansion tank is a heat exchanger used to compensate for volume changes in water caused by temperature changes. A water heater’s internal volume changes as the temperature of the water changes, causing pressure changes within the tank. Pressure can rise dramatically without a relief valve to release excess pressure. An expansion tank provides a safe place for this pressure to be released and helps keep temperatures within safe operating limits.
An expansion tank has two main components: a bladder and a heating element. The bladder is filled with oil or other fluid that expands when heated and contracts when cooled. The heating element heats or cools the fluid in the bladder so that it expands or contracts at roughly the same rate as the water in your water heater.
Expansion tanks should be installed on every water heater to allow for some movement without creating excess pressure inside your water heater. They are sold separately from water heaters, but many local building codes require them to be installed with new installations or at least during upgrades.
Test the Pressure-Relief Valve
A pressure release valve is a safety device that relieves excessive pressure in your water heater. It’s usually found on the top of the water heater, just above the drain line.
The pressure release valve is necessary because it protects homeowners from scalding and other injuries caused by overheated water. If you have a gas-fired water heater, your water tank may have two pressure-release valves — one on top and one on the bottom. The top one releases pressure if there’s a problem with the burner or flue pipe, while the bottom releases steam from a leaky connection between the gas supply and your appliance.
The pressure release valve should be tested once a year. If you need help with how to test it yourself, your local plumbing professionals can help during a water heater tune-up, where they’ll carry out the check for you.
Install a Water Softener or Whole House Filter
Water softeners and whole-house filters are two of the best ways to extend the life of your water heater.
Water softeners use salt to remove hardness minerals like calcium and magnesium from the water before it enters your home. This can be an excellent way to prevent hard water build up in your pipes and fixtures, which can lead to clogs and leaks.
Whole house water filters offer a similar benefit by filtering out contaminants that would otherwise be picked up by your water heater.