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Small Steps to Prolong the Life of Your Water Heater

A typical tank water heater can be expected to last eight to twelve years before requiring replacement. However, there are many factors that can play a role in the need for replacement, including a lack of maintenance and inefficient use of your water heater. Knowing the small steps you can take that will make a big difference in the life expectancy of your water heater can help you get the most from this appliance and prevent premature repairs or replacement.

Turn Down the Temperature

Many water heaters come straight from the factory with their output temperature set much higher than necessary, up to 140-150 degrees Fahrenheit. The average household only requires water heated to a temperature of 120 degrees; this temperature setting will not only prevent accidental scalding, it will prolong the lifetime of your water heater as well. By placing less demand on your water heater, you’ll prevent undue stress that could cause its components to wear out prematurely. You can check the temperature of your home’s hot water by running the hot water from the faucet nearest the water heater for at least one minute. After this time, fill a mug with hot water from the tap and use a candy or cooking thermometer to check the temperature and set your water heater accordingly.

Know Your Water Pressure

Your home’s water pressure also plays a role in the longevity of your water heater. Excessively high water pressure can stress your water heater, causing it to wear out quickly and spring leaks that require replacement to address. You can test your home’s water pressure using a water pressure gauge, which can be attached to an outdoor hose bib or faucet to read the pressure of the water in your home’s plumbing pipes. If your pressure is too high, a plumber can install a device to reduce it, thus reducing stress on your water heater as well.

Clean Your Tank

While flushing your water heater monthly can help to reduce mineral buildup inside the tank, it’s also important to clean your tank periodically using a solution designed to remove lime, rust, and calcium from the tank’s inner walls. Especially if you are moving into a home and aren’t sure when the water heater was last flushed, this step can return your water heater’s tank to a condition much closer to pristine. To clean your tank, you’ll need to purchase a CLR (calcium, lime, and rust) cleaning solution, which is typically available in gallon-sized containers. Disconnect your water heater from its power and water sources and drain a few inches of water, then pour the cleaner slowly into the inlet pipe. Let the cleaner sit in the tank for at least five hours, then rinse your water heater by draining all the water and running fresh water in, allowing the tank to drain for several minutes to flush away any remaining sediment and cleaner. Finally, close the outlet valve and fill the tank, then open all your home’s hot water taps to release any trapped air from the system before restoring the power to your water heater once more.

Taking care of your water heater requires a little professional help for the best results. You can visit our website to learn more about our comprehensive heating, cooling, and water heater services throughout Detroit, or check out our blog for additional at-home tips to maintain your HVAC system, improve your indoor air quality, and protect your water heater.