5 Tips for Preventative Water Heater Care


Like all household plumbing, no one pays much attention to the water heater – until the water runs cold. We expect water heaters to do their job, and we depend on them daily for hot showers, laundry, dishes, and every time we wash our hands. While a water heater should have a life expectancy between 8 and 12 years, even a quality water heater can fail early if you forgo all maintenance. To keep yours in good working order for its full lifespan, here are five tips for preventative water heater care.

Proper Temperature

Optimal water heater temperatures vary between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Many are factory set at 140 degrees, which is an OSHA recommended level. The EPA, on the other hand, recommends 120 degrees for better power consumption and in households with small children. A happy medium – 130 degrees – is low enough to avoid scalding but hot enough to kill potentially harmful bacteria. If you’ll be traveling, check the manufacturer’s specifications for the best setting while you’re away.

Proper Insulation

Keep the water heater tank and pipes properly insulated. Ideally, this should be done during installation, but insulation can be added at a later time. If your equipment is lacking insulation, or the existing insulation is no longer doing its job, the certified plumbers at River City Plumbing in Reno can help.

Flush the Tank Annually

Sediment build-up in the water tank will eventually affect its performance. An annual flushing will keep your system running properly.

Test TPR Valve Bi-Annually

The temperature and pressure relief (TPR) valve is a safety feature on water tanks that prevents the build-up of pressure inside the tank. Sediment or rust can affects its ability to function properly, so it’s a good idea to have yours checked at least once a year and preferably twice. Replacing a faulty or damaged valve is inexpensive and avoids a big potential issue.

Check for Leaks or Rust

Make a point of checking your water tank periodically for signs of leaks or rusting. Both are indications of potential problems. If you notice either, schedule a consultation with River City Plumbing to make sure it’s not a sign of a major issue. Make sure to keep adequate space around your water heater, too. There are manufacturer’s recommendations for appropriate breathing room, so it’s worth consulting your manual. Don’t store boxes, bags, or bins close to the water heater, even if space is tight in your garage.

The old adage an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure applies perfectly when you’re talking about a water heater. Set reminders to follow these five tips, or leave it to the experts. River City Plumbing can perform annual inspections of your household plumbing to keep everything in tip-top shape. Contact us today.

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