Regular maintenance and care of the appliances in your home is important to keep them running smoothly, and the water heater is no exception. It is important that you don't just 'set it and forget it' or you might end up with major repairs down the line. Here are some routine maintenance tasks to perform in order to keep it running efficiently.
Have Clearance Around the Water Heater
A water heater needs a good amount of empty space around it to work properly and reduce the risk of hazards. Make sure it isn't directly against a wall, but at least a few inches away. It also needs proper oxygen to burn the gas if you have a gas water heater, so make sure there is some empty space around the burning chamber. Otherwise, smothering it could lead to potential hazards. Items that are flammable could become a fire hazard if they are too close to the water heater as well.
Inspect the Area For Leaks
If you have a leak coming from your water heater, don't ignore it, even if it seems minor. Not only does this waste water, but it could be a sign of a serious issue that needs to be addressed. You can extend the life of your water heater simply by getting repairs done promptly. Inspect the water heater on a routine basis to see if there are any wet areas around the perimeter that point to a potential leak. Call a plumbing professional if you notice leaks and can't figure out where they are coming from. This could be from faulty connections, corroding fittings, or a crack in the water heater.
Replace the Anode Rod
Inside your water heater, there is a long metal rod called an anode rod. This is there to keep corrosive debris from entering the water if the glass lining cracks, but the rod itself can also become corroded over time. Every few years, make it a point to have the anode rod removed. You should replace it if the road has calcium buildup on it, if the steel wire inside of it is exposed, or if the rod has started to become thinner. It is recommended that you have a professional replace it for you.
Flush the Water Tank
The water heater also needs to be cleaned out occasionally, which is done by flushing it. It helps to remove buildup and debris from inside the tank that could eventually cause corrosion and low-quality water. Flushing the tank requires turning off the water supply and disconnecting it, attaching a hose to the drain valve, then letting it drain completely. The pressure relief valve is then closed, after which the water is turned back on. Turn on all the faucets so water can run through the heater and rinse it out.