DIY Hot Water Tank Maintenance : Keep Your Water Heater In Shape.
The venerable hot water tank. Dutifully sitting in the basement, being ignored, working hard with little recognition, doing exactly what it's supposed to. You pay it no mind. Then one morning you're up and ready for work when suddenly, no hot water. You rush down to the basement and what do you find? A pool of water surrounding your hot water tank. But what's wrong with it? This is no way to start your day. So prevent this from happening to you, here's some handy routine maintenance tips to keep your friendly hot water tank working hard for years to come.
Pre-Plan and the TPR Valve
Before you get started, it's best practice and safe to determine if your tank is gas or electric. Once that is decided, turn off the gas/electricity to your tank. Shut off the water (see video). Then, don a pair of thick gloves, and check your pressure release valve (TPR Valve). Do this by locating its position on the tank, usually on the top, and slightly turning the valve to open. If you hear a hiss, your tank is pressurized. If you hear nothing, time to either replace the valve or call a plumber. While the tank is off, maybe it's time to...
Flush the water
It is recommended that once every six months you flush the water out of the tank to decrease the build-up of sediment that can cause clogged lines and tank failure. It's a simple process that requires a garden hose. Screw one end of the hose to the drain valve, position the other end of the hose where the scalding water that comes out won't affect anything it hits. Then, open of the TPR Valve and the drain valve and let it drain. Letting it drain all the way will ensure all the sediment is gone, increasing your tanks longevity. So with an empty tank, let's check the...
What's an anode rod? Quite simply, it's a rod that pulls the corrosion causing elements from the water (like magnesium, aluminum, and zinc -- depending on your particular water), ultimately saving the inside of your tank from rusting. Checking and replacing the rod is quite simple. The rod itself hangs from the top of the tank down into the water held inside. It is attached to a screw top connected to the tanks ceiling. You'll need about 3 feet of clearance to pull the old one out, if you don't have that kind of room, you'll need to grab a friend and tilt the tank. Once unscrewed, time to give it the once over. If the rod appears corroded, time for a new one. If it's pristine, you're god for another six months. But really, if it doesn't look like a rusted-out car, you might want to consider replacing it anyway. But this time consider purchasing an articulated rod (a rod connected by links; for tanks with less ceiling clearance).
So aside from a few temperature tweaks throughout the year, and maybe a nice warm blanket in the winter, your tank should be running in tip-top shape. But if after all of this, there's no change, maybe it's time to contact Fox Plumbing and Heating. Our friendly staff will be glad to come out and troubleshoot all of your hot water tank needs.
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