Plumbing

What You Need To Know About Maintaining Your Hot Water Heater

By December 11, 2018 No Comments
Water Heaters

Your Hot Water Heater Needs To Be Flushed Regularly

Many people don’t understand the need for or importance of hot water heater maintenance. With water constantly sitting in the tank, all of the impurities and minerals build up, requiring occasional flushing to ensure the cleanest, safest water, especially for washing dishes. Hot water heaters mostly need to be flushed regularly to remove all of the sediment and other goo that collects, to keep them working optimally, and to prolong their lives. With water softening systems, the heater should ideally be flushed about every three years, and about once a year if heating unsoftened water. Softened water reduces the amount of sediment build-up in the water heater, but regular flushing is still strongly recommended for it’s optimal performance and longevity. So if your hot water heater hasn’t been flushed in a while, call a professional today to save the time, aggravation, and expense of replacing your hot water heater.

The Anode Rod Needs Periodic Replacement

Your hot water heater has either a sacrificial or an electric anode rod. The anode rod exists to protect the lining of your hot water heater from corrosion. The anode rod corrodes so the hot water heater’s lining doesn’t, and it is the single most important part that determines the longevity of your hot water heater. Under normal conditions, the anode rod corrodes over the course of about five years, while the tank’s lining remains intact. Anode rods work best in hot water heaters that have unconditioned water. Softening systems rely on salt to soften the water. Both the water softener and the salt they use corrode the anode rod faster than hot water heaters with unsoftened water, resulting in water with an unpleasant odor. Complete water softening will corrode an anode rod in six months or less. Systems that have partially or completely softened water and a sacrificial anode rod, require the anode rod to be replaced about every six months. In such cases, it is advised that the sacrificial anode rod be replaced with an electrical anode rod. The electrical anode rods do not corrode from water softening. Make sure that you have the right anode rod for you water type, and that it is replaced regularly.

How To Recognize When Your Hot Water Heater Is Failing

When a hot water heater begins it’s final decline it shows some telltale signs of forthcoming failure. Know what to look for to avoid turning on the hot water one day, and having an immediate problem on your hands.

-Moisture or leaks around the hot water heater. Small fissures develop in old, corroded tanks, since metal expands when heated, the tank will only leak when it’s cold but not when it’s hot. That intermittent, small leak can be telling you that the metal is corroded beyond repair. Before automatically assuming that the leak is from the hot water heater itself, check to ensure that the leak is emanating from the tank, not from the fittings or connections.

-Rusty hot water can be a sign that the tank has rusted and will soon leak and need to be replaced. Make sure that the rust is only coming from the hot faucet and not both cold and hot. Rust coming from the cold tap may be a function of rusty pipes.

-Odd sounds can indicate that the hot water heater has built up sediment, which, when heated, makes noises that a normal functioning hot water heater doesn’t make.

-Decreased energy efficiency. Hard sediment build-up in the bottom of the tank interferes with the way the hot water heater worked when it was newer, and therefore, it requires more gas or electricity to function properly.

-Age. Hot water heaters have an average life expectancy of about ten years, with proper maintenance. Once a hot water heater gets beyond ten years, it’s time to consider buying a new unit.

Safely Igniting The Pilot Light On Gas Hot Water Heaters

Start by making sure you have plenty of light, use a flashlight if needed.

1. Turn off gas regulator valve on the outside of the hot water heater. The gas regulator valve will be at the intersection of where the gas source and hot water heater meet. Find the knob, turn it off, and wait five minutes for excess gas to dissipate.

2. You will find the pilot light near the bottom of the hot water heater. Remove whatever cover protects the pilot light. Shine enough light in the recess to clearly see the pilot burner.

3. Whether your hot water heater has a gas regulator valve setting for the pilot or a red button, press and hold it to initiate gas flow to the pilot. Some hot water heaters have an electric spark igniter with a red or black button labeled “ignition” near the gas valve. When using a spark ignition button, you’ll hear a click sound when it sparks.

4. Using a fireplace match or gooseneck lighter, press and hold the button or valve, light the pilot, and continue holding until the safety sensor heats up enough that it recognizes that the pilot light is on, about one minute after lighting.

5. Slowly release the regulator valve or button, and make sure that the pilot remains lit.

6. Turn gas back on, and listen to hear the burners go on.

7. Replace cover.

Testing A Temperature And Pressure Release Valve (TPR Valve)

Hot water heaters have a temperature and pressure release valve that opens to release excess heat or pressure build-up that could cause the hot water heater to explode. Over time, minerals, salt from purification systems, rust, and corrosion can build up, preventing the TPR valve from functioning. To ensure safety, its important to test the TPR valve periodically. The TPR test lever will be located on the top of the hot water heater. Raise and lower the valve a few times so that it lifts the attached brass stem. This should release a gush of hot water from the drainpipe. If no water or only a drip of water is released, it’s time to replace the TPR valve. If testing the valve results in an immediate leak, jiggle the lever up and down to remove the debris that prevents it from seating normally. If water is still dripping, turn down the temperature or pressure controllers.

Identifying A Bad Heating Element Or Thermostat

If a hot water heater fails to heat properly or heats to dangerous temperatures, it has a faulty thermostat or heating element. How do you know which it is? Most hot water heaters have an upper and a lower heating element. If the upper element is burned out, the water will take an unusually long time to heat or it will not heat to the temperature its set for. If the upper element is working but not the lower, hot water will come out only for a short time, then it will run cold. If all of the water coming out of the tap is dangerously hot or not hot at all, the thermostat has failed. For safety reasons, we recommend calling a professional to replace the broken parts.

Why Is It Taking Too Long To Get Hot Water?

When the tap is opened, but hot water takes an abnormally long time to arrive, the problem most likely stems for a damaged or broken Grundfro water pump. A Grunfro water circulating pump is a centrifugal pump designed to deliver pressurized water supply from a hot water heater. A built-in pressure tank powers the pump to deliver water when a faucet is opened. When the unit goes bad, for any number of reasons, either the pump is working improperly, and the water takes too long to arrive at the tap or the pump is broken, resulting in no hot water reaching the faucet. In either case, a qualified plumber can fix or repair the pump, assuring hot water in a timely manner.

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