Water Heater Maintenance Instructions

Just as with any piece of important equipment, your water heater needs some TLC to keep it in top shape. Maintenance is needed to keep it operating safely, efficiently, and for many years. Follow these steps to conduct water heater maintenance every six months.

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Supplies

  • A bucket
  • A pipe wrench
  • Garden hose
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Socket wrench with 1-1/16″ head

Instructions

  1. Check the pressure valve

    A pressure relief valve is present on both gas and electric water heaters. This safety device releases pressure from the tank should it over pressurize. If your pressure valve isn’t working properly, the tank could explode from excess pressure. To test your pressure valve:

    • Shut off the electricity running to the unit and turn off the gas valve, if applicable.
    • Shut off the cold water inlet.
    • Place a bucket below the pressure relief valve to collect any water.
    • Pull the valve’s trip lever. If it is operating properly, there will be a minor rush of air and you may see some water and vapor come through the pressure relief valve. If not, the tank should be drained and valve replaced.
  2. Flush the tank

    Over time, sediments can build up in your water heater tank, lowering efficiency and clogging your system. To flush the tank and remove sediment buildup:

    • Shut off electricity and gas to the water heater.
    • Shut off the cold water inlet.
    • Connect a hose to the drain valve, and route it to a bathtub or other location where hot water can safely drain.
    • Open the pressure relief valve.
    • Open the drain valve and allow all hot water to drain out of the tank.
    • Once all the water has drained, close the drain valve, remove the hose, and close the pressure valve.
    • Open all fixtures connected to a hot water line throughout your home, including sinks and bath faucets.
    • Turn on the cold water inlet.
    • Once water starts flowing from the hot water fixtures you’ve opened, go ahead and close them.
    • Reconnect electrical and gas power to the unit.
  3. While you’re in there.. lower the temperature to save money

    Another step you can take to save energy while you perform water heater maintenance is to lower your water heater’s thermostat setting. Lowering the temperature reduces energy use regarding standby losses and consumption. To do so:

    • Locate your water heater’s thermostat; you may need to consult your owner’s manual for assistance.
    • Mark the current setting with a market, and turn down the thermostat.
    • In a few hours, check the temperature by turning on the hot water at the farthest tap from the water heater.
    • If this setting is satisfactory, mark it on the thermostat for future reference.
    • You may need to make a few adjustments to find a desirable setting for your household, so repeat the process as needed.

Have an issue you don’t think you can fix with this maintenance overview? Find a local HVAC contractor to help you!

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