Tips on Extending Water Heater Life

Is there a way to extend the life and efficiency of your water heating system? Of course! The great thing is that these basic maintenance practices can be done in just a few minutes and only about once a year on the average. These maintenance practices will not only extend the life of your water heating system but also ensure that it remains safe to use. This also translates to less expenses and lower operating cost for you. What are these simple and basic maintenance practices that you can do?

Pressure Relief Valve (PRV)

The first thing that you should check is the pressure relief valve of your water heater. If you are not familiar where it is located, it can normally be found either at the top or side of your water heating unit. The valve is designed to automatically open once the water pressure in the tank becomes excessively high. It is important to be aware that excessive water pressure can cause the water heater tank to explode and cause more damage.

When the valve fails to release the water when the lever is lifted, you have to replace the valve with ones found in hardware stores or home centers. Replacing the PRV is quite simple. You just have to turn off the water supply, drain the tank, unscrew the water heater discharge pipe, and remove the faulty PRV. Before you screw on the new PRV, make sure to wrap its threads with sealant tape. If the PRV is relatively old, consider replacing it even if it is not leaking.

Shutoff Valve

Locate the cold water supply pipe feeding the water heater and close its shutoff valve. Turn on the hot water of any faucet to relieve the pressure inside the tank of the water heater. Make sure that the water is left turned on while you are checking the shutoff valve.

When you have an electric water heater make sure that the power is turned off at its main panel. For gas-powered water heaters, the gas control dial must always be set to off. If there is a problem with the shutoff valve, make sure that it is replaced at once.

Flushing Out Sediments

The best way to flush out sediments from your water heater is to drain the tank. This ensures that sediments that have settled at the bottom of the tank do not stay there. What is the danger of allowing sediment buildup in the tank? For one, it will shorten the life of your water heater. Another reason is that it reduces the efficiency of the water heater resulting in increased energy bills.

Normally draining anywhere from 2 to 3 gallons of water from the water heater tank will be enough to flush out the sediments. The important thing to remember is to make sure that the water keep on flowing until the bucket holding the flushed water is free from particles. Take extra precaution because the water the scald you.

Drain Valve

After you have drained the water heater tank it is normal to hear groaning or gurgling noises. This is created by the air coming into the system as the water is being drained. The important thing to observe is if the drain valve will close properly. If the valve fails to properly close, then you will need to replace it.

To replace the drain valve make sure that you have finished draining the water heater tank. Unscrew the old valve and put in the new one. It is that simple to replace the drain valve. The next step is to restart the water heater, then open the shutoff valve. This will allow the hot water to run to the home plumbing system and purge the air from the system. Finally, turn on the power or relight the pilot, whichever is applicable.


The final part of the maintenance practice is to make sure that the thermostat is set to 120 degrees. In case your water heater does not have numbers at the dial, check the temperature of the water by opening a faucet and catching the water in a glass or bucket. Use a cooking thermometer to verify the temperature. Keep in mind that higher temperatures increases the possibility of sediment buildup and scalding injuries.

Follow these tips and you will definitely extend the life of your water heater. To make sure that you make the most of your water heating system, allow a licensed professional plumber to check it at least once a year.