Air Flow Diverter For Air Conditioner In A Home Preventive Maintenance Can Extend Your Water Heater’s Useful Life… Check Yours Today!

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Preventive Maintenance Can Extend Your Water Heater’s Useful Life… Check Yours Today!

Your water heater is probably the most important part of your home’s plumbing system. A properly maintained heater can last ten to fifteen years or more. But, if the heater is not properly maintained, it can fail in four to six years. The condition of the drinking water in your area and the location of the heater in your home are beyond your control, but proper maintenance of the heater and your plumbing system is critical to the longevity and safety of the heater.

This article lists items to check for both tank type and tankless water heaters. As you go through the steps to check your heater, if you have the slightest doubt about your abilities, get a professional, licensed plumber involved! You’re dealing with hot water, natural gas and electricity!

Tank Type Water Heater Maintenance:

Vent (Gas water heaters only)

  • The diameter of the vent should be the same as the draft diverter on the heater tank.

  • The vent should generally go “up and out” of the ceiling.

  • Where it passes through an exterior wall, the vent shall be double-walled.

  • Vent sections should be screwed together with at least three screws per section.

Note: Bad vent pipe connections can break and cause carbon monoxide poisoning, a silent and deadly gas!

Temperature and pressure relief valve (T&P Valve) The T&P valve is designed to prevent the heater from exploding if the water pressure or temperature exceeds safe limits.

  • Pull up on the handle on the valve and when you release the handle, the water should come out and stop.

  • The T&P valve has a drain line that should go down about 6″ from the floor or be plumbed outside of your home.

Note: Water leaking from the T&P drain line can signal a bad T&P valve, high water pressure, or a malfunctioning thermal expansion device.

water pressure (All Water Heaters)

  • Water pressure greater than 80 pounds per square inch (psi) can damage the heater and your piping. It can also damage plumbing fixtures, toilets, and your fixtures.

Note: Your water pressure is high when the T&P valve on the heater starts opening and closing.

Exterior water heater metal shell and plumbing fittings

  • Check the outer sheet metal shell of the heater for leaks or corrosion.

  • Inspect the plumbing fittings on the heater for rust, corrosion, or water stains.

Note: Rusty fittings or discolored shells are a sign of a leak!

temperature control

  • Check the heater’s temperature control dial to make sure it is set to the correct water temperature.

  • The ideal water temperature is 120°F.

Note: Anything above 120° Fahrenheit risks scratching the bottom of the heater, increasing energy consumption and sludge!

combustion chamber (Gas Water Heaters)

  • Turn the gas valve control to the “pilot position”.

  • Remove the external access hatch or cover on the side of the heater.

  • Check the chamber roof for heavy rust, water marks or pitting.

  • Return the gas valve control to the “ON position”.

Note: Black soot in the combustion chamber means drafting problems, combustion problems, smoke problems and a fire hazard!

Pedestal base (Gas Water Heaters)

  • Ensure that the pedestal base on which the heater sits is stable and supports the unit.

  • A typical pedestal heater will have the bottom at least 18″ off the floor.

Note: A new water heater may have a “filtered combustion chamber” that eliminates the need for a pedestal. Check the owner’s manual for your heater.

Drain valve

  • Open the drain valve to make sure your heater drain isn’t blocked by mineral deposits, anode sludge, or corrosion.

Remove the overflow pan

  • If your heater is on 2N.D There should be a drain pan on the top floor of the living space.

  • The drain pan should be plumbed to the outside of your home.

  • Check the condition of the drain pan, fittings and outside piping.

Corrosive fumes (Gas Water Heaters and Tankless Water Heaters)

  • Water heaters draw in air for combustion and air quality is important.

  • Corrosive liquids, ammonia or acids stored near the heater can cause air corrosion.

Note: Corrosive air drawn into the burner can prematurely rust the heater.

Internal Tank Corrosion and Corrosion-The internal tank of your heater is constructed of steel and glass to prevent corrosion. of sacrifice anode rods A glass inner steel tank is installed in the tank to protect it from corrosion. Aluminum/zinc or magnesium anode rods corrode over time and are consumed by the electrolytic process.

Note: Replacing the anode rod can extend the life of the heater, but should be done by a trained, professional service technician.

silting-Sludge is formed when hard water is heated. Accumulation of sludge in the bottom of the tank can cause the bottom to overheat and melt the glass lining of the tank. It can flow into the recirculating lines, jam the check valve, and stick until the recirculating pump burns out. Sludge build-up at the bottom of gas water heaters promotes noisy operation. The sound is caused by small amounts of water under the sediment layer turning into steam bubbles, which then collapse violently.

Note: Sludge buildup can reduce the heater’s energy efficiency and void the warranty on some residential water heaters!

Tankless Water Heater Maintenance:

flushing-Most tankless water heater manufacturers recommend flushing The entire unit each 6 months to do 1 year Depending on the water quality. Refer to your product recommendation for flushing. Flushing the unit regularly removes any Mineral deposits (usually calcium or lime) that may have formed in the boiler. Manufacturers recommend using a utility pump for circulation 3 or 4 gallons of Vinegar or another A weak acid for the 45 minutes To clear any deposits.

Note: Without the right equipment it can overwhelm a “do-it-yourselfer”!

Water drain valve

  • Check the heater periodically”In-Line Filter” To keep grime and debris from building up. The filter is a cylindrical screen.

Note: Consult the manufacturer’s directions for cleaning to avoid injury from hot water.

Troubleshooting-If your tankless water heater detects a fault, an error code will flash on the control panel’s digital display.

Note: Call a qualified service technician if any solution involves gas or electricity, or if you have any doubts about doing it yourself! Make sure he knows the brand of your heater, has the right tools to diagnose the problem, and has parts to repair the unit.

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