Hot water is essential for day-to-day activities, including hot showers, running your laundry washer, and for your dishwasher. All of this is thanks to your water heater, and having it break on you is inconvenient and costly! Doing routine inspections can help extend the life of your water heater and alert you when it is time for a replacement.
Inspect Your Water Heater Routinely
No one wants to experience the inconvenience of not having hot water! Routine inspections will alert you to potential issues and help you avoid costly repairs. A heater that is leaking water, or worse yet, one that explodes due to built-up pressure, can cause lots of costly damage to your home and possessions. Regular inspections and maintenance can extend the life of your heater and alert you to issues before they become critical.
How to Perform Regular Hot Water Inspections
What should you look for during your routine inspections? Doing a general look-over of your heater can help you spot issues before they become serious. These are the same issues to look for if your hot water stops working one cold morning! Here’s what to look for:
- Search for any water leaks. Water leaks are a sign of an issue with your water heater. Look for leaks around the bottom of the heater, around the pressure valve, and along the pipes.
- Listen for strange noises. If you hear rumbling, popping, sizzling, screeching, or banging noises from your heater, there may be an issue. These noises can be caused by a buildup of sediment or problems with the pressure gauge.
- Look for rust. Inspect the heater for rust along seams as well as the bottom, sides, and top.
- Inspect gas lines. If your heater runs with gas, make sure the pilot light is on, and then inspect the gas lines for rust, cracks, or leaks.
- Test the pressure relief valve. This safety valve located on the top or side of your heater is designed to automatically open if the pressure gets too high. It then releases water, decreasing the pressure. To test it, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. It will generally include draining the water using a bucket and testing if the water stops when you close the valve.
- Check the anode rod. The anode rod, usually attached to the lid of the heater or near the top, protects your water heater from rusting by attracting corrosion to it instead of the sides of your water heater. To check it, turn off the water and electricity. Then, drain a few gallons of water. It is time for a rod replacement if it is more than 50% corroded or less than half an inch thick. Also, look to see if it is covered with calcium, as it may need to be replaced in that case as well.
- Inspect the water. When you drain the water to test the pressure valve or anode rod, take a look. If there is rust in the water, that is an indicator of an issue.
How Often to Inspect Your Heater
Experts recommend checking on your heater every two months, doing a general review of the items above. Having your heater professionally inspected and maintained once a year can save money in the long run. Professional heating companies can flush your tank and conduct quick fixes on minor issues that could turn into larger ones if not dealt with immediately.
What to Do if You Discover Issues
Suppose you hear noises or find leaky water, rust on the heater, rusty or cracked lines, a malfunctioning pressure valve, a deteriorated anode rod, or rust in the water. In that case, it is probably time to call in the professionals.
Often, the heater can be fixed with a parts cleaning or replacement. If your heater is more than 10 years old or has significant issues, it may be time to replace it. If it’s time to replace your heater, ask your hot water company about the benefits of tankless heaters. While the initial investment is more, they typically lower utility bills and maintenance costs and save money in the long run.