The water heater is something we rely on every day but rarely think about – until something goes wrong and we have to call in a plumber. Portland homeowners may not even realize that they should be performing regular water heater maintenance.
Water Heater Maintenance Extends the Life of Your Tank
Simply completing a few quick annual water heater maintenance tasks can significantly extend the life of your water heater, whether it is gas or electric. These can be done yourself or by a professional Portland plumbing services company.
Before you attempt any type of water heater maintenance yourself, however, there are some safety measures to keep in mind:
- Avoid burning yourself by checking the temperature of your water heater before touching it. You can do this with a thermometer or by lightly tapping the area with the back of your hand.
- When in doubt, wear thick gloves to protect yourself.
- Make sure you have sufficient lighting. Most water heaters are kept in dark areas of the home.
1. Turn down the temperature.
Simply regulating the temperature on your water heater not only protects your tank from overheating, but it saves energy and reduces wear and tear on the unit. The recommended temperature setting is between 115 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. To change it, simply locate the temperature dial on your water heater. On a gas heater, it will appear as a knob on the gas valve; on an electric heater, you’ll find the thermostat concealed beneath a panel.
2. Check the T&P Valve.
The temperature and pressure relief valve relieves any excess heat or pressure buildup inside your water heater to keep it functioning safely. Every year, you should check to make sure this valve is still working.
Locate the T&P valve at or near the top of your water heater. It will have a lever on the outside and should connect to a drain tube. To test it, simply pull it up partway, and then let it snap back into place. You should hear a gurgling sound as water is released into the tube. If nothing happens, you’ll most likely need to have a Portland plumbing services company replace it for you.
3. Perform a minor flushing.
Finally, you should flush out some of the water from the tank to help remove any sediment that has built up at the bottom. Doing so will help improve the unit’s efficiency, as well as prevent rust or corrosion.
Locate the drain valve and place a bucket underneath it. (It’s a good idea at this point to put on gloves and proceed carefully in order to avoid getting splashed by hot water.) Turn the drain valve counter-clockwise to open the valve, and slowly drain a few gallons of the murky water into the bucket. If the valve doesn’t have a handle, you may need to use a flathead screwdriver. Close the valve again and empty the bucket.
While a mini-flush can help your water heater function better, you should also occasionally incorporate a full-scale drain and flush into your water heater maintenance plan. As this requires shutting down the water heater itself, you may want to leave this task to a plumber. Portland homeowners who regularly maintain their water heaters will be rewarded with better performance and savings on energy bills.