Water Heater Maintenance
Water heater maintenance will ensure the extended life expectancy of your system. Whether you have an electric, solar powered or gas water heater; it will require regular maintenance for optimum performance, durability and efficiency.
Almost all causes of premature failure and water heater leaking can be avoided by proper maintenance. However, you should consult the owners’ manual before undertaking any servicing tasks yourself.
The primary cause of premature failure is internal corrosion and rust in the storage tank. These tanks corrode and rust rapidly due to
high heat, electrical conductivity and exposure to oxygen. They have an internal steel lining that comes with a protective glass coating which, over time, develops flaws. Many important fixtures are not satisfactorily protected by this coating. A metal rod is immersed in the tank to further protect the metallic fixtures and steel lining against corrosion.
These metal rods are sacrificial in nature and are designed to deteriorate, but once they disintegrate, the metallic fixtures and steel lining are at serious risk. This metal rod is called the ‘water heater anode’ and is the primary safeguard against corrosion the storage tank has. Most people are unfamiliar with the water heater anode. Therefore, the first task should be to check the condition of the metal rod.
Minerals such as calcium carbonate get extracted from water when it is heated. These minerals, which are called ‘sediments’ gradually settle on the bottom of the tank. The overall performance and efficiency of the system takes a serious hit due to this sediment build up. These minerals form a layer on the heating element and do not allow proper contact between the element and the stored water which results in poor heat transfer. This causes the bottom of the storage tank to heat up which gradually destroys the glass coating which in turn reduces the life of the tank. Thus, getting rid of this sediment build-up is also an important maintenance duty. The sediment build-up can be removed by periodically draining the storage tank.
Another vital water heater maintenance task is inspecting all valves for water heater leaking or other faults. Valve malfunctions are dangerous and can result in personal injury or property damage. Therefore it is of utmost importance to ensure that all valves are performing optimally. An important safety feature of a water heating system is the temperature pressure release valve. It is fixed on top of all water heating storage tanks. It releases excess pressure from the tank. It also removes excess hot water through a drain line. The earlier mentioned sediment build-up affects this valve as well.
If the temperature pressure release valve is faulty, it will either get stuck open or closed. On lifting the lever, water should flow down the drain line. In case the water does not flow down the drain line, it means that the valve should be replaced. It is prudent to check this at least once every six months.
Another valve that needs to be checked is the water heater drain valve which is located at the bottom of the water storage tank. Depending on the manufacturer, these valves can be either plastic or made of metal. An important heater maintenance task is to check this drain valve periodically. A faulty drain valve causes hot water to leak which may lead to property damage over time.
A routine part of maintenance should be to check for high water pressure in the storage tank. This should also be done at least once every six months. Water pressure can be easily checked by using a water pressure gauge on the drip valve. Keep the hot water tap closed and switch on the heating element. Now take a note of the pressure. Next, open the hot water tap and take a reading of the pressure again. If the pressure exceeds 80 psi even when the tap is open, it means that a pressure reducing valve should be installed.
The above mentioned steps for water heater maintenance, if performed regularly, will ensure your water heater remains efficient and performs optimally for many years to come.