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If you’re a new homeowner, then you may not have a lot of experience with water heater maintenance. Knowing how to care for your new water heater, and how to recognize the signs of a water heater problem, can help you take care of your new property.

Flush Your Water Heater Tank Regularly

Over time, most water heaters will develop a layer of sediment in the bottom of the tank. This sediment can block the heating elements and cause the unit to become inefficient. To avoid problems, homeowners can flush the tank and drain the sediment from the bottom of the water heater.

If you want to flush your water heater, start by cutting the power and/or turning of the gas to the water heater and then turning off the cold water supply (found at the top of the tank). Next, open up a hot water faucet in your home to prevent a vacuum from forming in the pipes. Finally, attach a hose to the spigot at the bottom of your hot water tank. Run the hose to a bucket or a drain.

Open up the spigot and watch the water from the bottom of the water heater drain out of the unit. Continue draining the water as long as it appears to be dirty or muddy. Be careful, because the water will be very hot! When the water runs clear, close the spigot.

When this is done, turn off the hot water faucet in your home and open the cold water valve at the top of the water heater. Restore power and/or gas to the unit when it is done filling. This should be done on an annual basis, especially if your home has hard water. If you have a gas water heater, please follow the instructions on the front of the water heater to relight the pilot light.

Control the Water Temp

Many water heaters are designed to be kept at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Raising the water temperature over the recommended 120 degrees can force the water heater tank to work harder than necessary just to do its job. The higher the tempeture will also increase the chances of scalding.

Check with the manufacturer to determine what the recommended setting is for your water heater, then make sure that the water heater is not set higher than that recommended temperature.

Inspect the Tank Regularly

Inspecting your water heater tank on a regular basis can help you keep tabs on your water heater’s health and can also give you a heads up when water heater failure is imminent. When inspecting your water heater, look for signs of problems or potential failure. Some water heater tanks won’t display symptoms of failure before they break, but others will. Some of the problems to look for include:

  • Soot. Soot may be seen around the burner or flu. This can be indicative of excessive carbon monoxide production and should be investigated by a professional right away.
  • Corrosion. Look for corrosion around the pipes that lead into and out of the water heater. This could be a sign of a leak or an impending leak.
  • Moisture. You should never see puddles of water forming around your water heater. Once leaks begin to form, this is usually a sign of bigger problems to come.

Newer tanks need only be inspected once annually, while older tanks should probably be inspected twice annually or even quarterly.

Know When to Replace

Water heaters last around eight to twelve years. Knowing how old your water heater is can help you decide when it’s time to replace your unit. If you’re not sure how old your water heater is, look for a serial number on the side of the unit.

This serial number will contain a date code that shows when your water heater was produced. Date codes can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. If you can’t tell when the water heater was produced based on the date code, contact the manufacturer.

Once you know how old your water heater is, you can modify your maintenance habits based on its age. When your water heater reaches around eight years old, start having it inspected by a professional plumber at least once a year. Your plumber can give you a good idea of the health of your water heater and can help you decide when the heater is close to failure.

Find a Plumber You Can Trust: Call Rakeman Plumbing

As a new homeowner, you’re going to need a good plumber that you trust to take care of your home’s water heater. Having the phone number of a professional plumber at the ready can help you take care of your home in an emergency and also gives you a resource in the event that you have questions or concerns.

At Rakeman Plumbing and Air in North Las Vegas, we’re happy to answer homeowner questions about their plumbing and water heater. We encourage you to keep our phone number on hand for those inevitable plumbing questions. Give us a call any time for information about your water heater and other parts of your home’s plumbing.

More on Water Heater Maintenance:

New Homeowner? A Guide to Plumbing Maintenance