Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

How To Get More Life Out Of Your Water Heater

When the economy gets tough, people go out of their way to save money. Some people stop buying garbage bags, happy to use the shopping bags accumulated through their regular day-to-day lives. Other people book their airline tickets to fly at the wee hours of the morning or the late hours of the night so that they can take advantage of the red-eye rates. Even people that have not gone to such great lengths try to cut corners where they can. But many people overlook a lot of cost savings efforts they could be making that would require little time, effort or other sacrifice. When was the last time you took a look at your water heater to check in on it and perform some basic maintenance? Chances are, you can’t even remember. A standard water heater can work just fine without any heating and cooling maintenance for as long as ten years, so it is no surprise that people don’t pay them much attention. But just a little bit of time and attention can extend the life of your water heater even longer, saving you the cost and time it will take to replace it. Below are some tips, steps you can take, and other information about how to extend the lifespan of your water heater beyond the eight to twelve year standard. Some tanks can last as long as fifteen or even twenty years!

Looking to get some more life out of your water heater? Here are some great tips.

There are a number of ways that your water heater might deteriorate without proper care. Today, most water heaters are made of steel on the outside and then lined with porcelain over glass. Those materials can oxidize and break down, leading to real deterioration and eventually resulting in a leak. Leaks can happen in one of two basic ways. Either you will end up with a slow leak, that lets just a little bit of water out at a time, or a dramatic leak, that involves a major calamitous incident. Either way, it means you need to know where you the water shutoff valve is on the tank.

Even a healthy, top of the line, well maintained water heater, though, will have challenges. It is normal, for example, for sediment to build up inside of the water heater tank. This causes decreased efficiency.

Some people may also want to consider getting a tankless water heaters which can last for as long as two or three times as long as a traditional tank. However, you might find that they require more care.

TIP #1 – Check on the pressure-relief valve. The first step in water heater maintenance is to test the pressure relief valve, usually on the side or on the top of the water heater tank. The valve opens on its own when the pressure inside the tank gets higher than it is supposed to be. This can be a major danger because if the pressure reaches levels beyond what is safe, it can cause an actual explosion. To check the valve, see if it releases water when you pull on the lever. If it doesn’t perform that way, then it is time to replace the valve. You can find new valves at any hardware store. To replace it, turn off the water, allow the tank to drain, take the discharge pipe off, as well as the old valve. Use some sealant tape to wrap the new valve’s threads and then screw it into place.

TIP #2 – Clear out the sediment by draining the tank. Draining the tank should also be done when there is a fair amount of sediment buildup. Although this buildup is entirely normal, if left untreated, it will not only damage your water heater’s health, it will also add costs to your energy bill. You will likely only need to release two or three gallons of water to clear out the sediment. Use caution when doing this, though, the water will be scalding hot!

TIP #3 – Lower your water heater’s temperature. Want a really easy way to lower your energy bill, protect the environment, and add life to your water heater? Just lower the temperature – you won’t feel a difference but you will see one on your bill. Your water heater needs only to be set at about 115-120 degrees Fahrenheit to function at full levels and adequately perform all of its household functions. All you need to do is find the temperature knob on your water heater and dial it down.

Jim Klossner writes about plumbing, water heaters, heating and cooling and home improvement topics for one of the first plumbing companies on the North Shore.

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