Water heaters are one of the best and easiest to maintain pieces of home equipment. There are really only two things that need to be done on a yearly basis to keep the water heater working in top notch condition.
BE AWARE the water heater heats water to a temperature at or even sometimes above 120 degrees and can scald your skin in minutes if you do not operate with care. It is always very important to know where the main water shutoff for the house is and also where the gas shutoff is for the unit.
Flushing Your Water Heater
- Find a floor drain in the mechanical room and test the drain with a bucket of water to make sure it can handle flushing 10 or more gallons of water.
- Once you have determined that the drain will handle the water you are dumping down the drain. Attach a hose to the connection on the bottom of the water heater, open the valve slowly until you see water coming out of the hose. Once there is good flow you may open it all of the way.
- If no water comes out when you open the valve all of the way, your tank may be clogged with sediment in the bottom. The easiest way to clear the bottom of the tank is to leave one end of the hose attached to the tank and attach the other end to a laundry faucet. Turn the COLD water on the force the sediment away from the drain tap.
- Once you get the water flowing you want to allow the water to run until it runs totally clear, this could be within the first 10 Gallons but may take more.
- When the water is running clear you can turn the tap off at the water heater and you are done the water heater should be clear of sediment for another year!
Checking the T&P Valve
T&P stands for temperature and pressure valve and it is the single most important safety feature on your water heater.
- Find the T&P valve on the water heater, there is a lever on it that will allow you to test the unit. It is either in the top of the tank within 6″ of the top of the tank. It will have a pipe that extends down to within a couple inches of the floor.
- Once you have located the T&P valve, lift the lever as to allow water to flow by and down the pipe. Be careful this water will be EXTREMELY HOT.
- Let the water run for 2-3 seconds to make sure that the valve has cleared any debris which may have become lodged.
- Close the valve again by letting the lever down.
- Make sure before you walk away that the water has stopped flowing from the valve.
- Drips may occur but if noticed that the water is still flowing repeat the process until the valves seats properly again. If it continues to leak you may wish to replace the valve.