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Introduction to Hot Water Heater Maintenance

Hot water heaters are one of those appliances we rely upon every day. Whether gas or electric, they are generally very dependable and quiet. Hot water heaters can last for a decade or more and with this simple 3-step annual maintenance plan you can extend the life of your water heater even further and save money in the process.

Do the 3-Step

By following this easy 5 minute, 3-step annual maintenance plan, you can significantly

extend the life of your water heater:

  • Dial Down the Temperature
  • Test the T&P (temperature and pressure) Relief Valve
  • Do a Mini-Flush

Dial Down the Temperature

Check your water heater temperature setting:

  • Go to the temperature setting dial on your water heater. It will be a knob on the gas valve or a thermostat behind an electric water heater panel.
  • Dial the temperature setting down so it is between 115 to 120 degrees F.
  • This lowered setting will protect the tank from overheating and will reduce the energy used to heat the water.

Test the T & P Valve

The temperature and pressure relief valve is critical to safety and proper operation of your water heater. It's a simple but important valve and is easily checked:

  • To test the T&P valve simply lift up on the lever part way, then let go and allow it to rapidly snap back.
  • You should hear a gurgling sound as the valve allows some water to be released into the drain tube.
  • If the T&P valve did nothing then it is bad and needs to be replaced.

Do a Mini-flush

Removal of sediments from the bottom of the tank is important to prevent rust, corrosion and improve efficiency. Although a full water heater tank draining and flush is best, performing a full flush is a bit of work and requires shutting down the water heater. This mini-flush works well, takes a fraction of the time and allows you to do it while the water heater is running:

  • Place a bucket under the drain valve found near the bottom of the tank.
  • Some drain valves have a handle. Others like the one in the photo shown here have a short handle-less stem with a slot for a flat blade screwdriver.
  • Turn the valve counter-clockwise to release a few gallons of water into the bucket.
  • Close the valve by turning it clockwise and drain the bucket.
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