Extend the Life of your Water Heater
If you have a water heater at home, highly likely you hardly notice it until it breaks down. It is apparent that a lot of people tend to neglect the most basic maintenance in order to extend the life of their water heaters. In fact, most of these maintenances are actually simple enough that you can do some of them on your own. However, there are some that are complex that you may want to hire a professional, particularly if you are not too confident with your DIY skills.
There are actually several helpful ways to extend the life of your water heater. These maintenance tips will not only prolong the life of your water heating unit, but it will also help keep it in perfect working condition.
The typical lifespan of a standard water heater is usually around 8-12 years. Most storage tanks today are made of steel and are lined with either glass or porcelain which may deteriorate over time. This will usually lead to slow leaks at first and then progress into more dramatic ones. Well, most tanks will leak eventually anyhow so it is always a good idea to know where the shut off valve for your water heating unit is located.
If your water heater is taken cared of properly, it is not unusual to see it last for 15-20 years. However, despite the prolonged life, you need to keep in mind that your water heating unit may no longer be working as efficiently as it did after this many years of service. This kind of inefficiency is mostly due to the buildup of sediments inside the tank which makes it use more energy to heat the same amount of water. Tankless water heaters on the other hand usually lasts twice as long, provide the homeowner takes care of the unit properly.
The list below shows some helpful ways to extend the life of your water heater.
Flushing out the Tank – this should be done annually on your storage tank water heater. The main reason why you need to flush it on a yearly basis is that sediments buildup inside the tank which can cause serious efficiency issues, particularly when they harden at the bottom of the tank.
On gas-fired units, this becomes a critical efficiency issue since the flame is always set at the bottom of the tank. If there are hardened sediment buildup at the bottom, the heat from underneath is not effectively transferred onto the water. This means the tank will need to use up more fuel resulting in unnecessary additional expenses.
Should you have an electric storage tank water heating unit does not necessarily mean you’re safe. The buildup of sediments can also harden on the electric heating element which means it also can’t effectively transfer its heat onto the water. This makes it use up more energy than it usually really needs to.
Installing a 2nd Anode Rod – anode rods are known to be sacrificial rods because they attract rust unto themselves instead of the tank. This is why installing a second anode rod will greatly increase the life expectancy of your water heater. Anode rods are commonly made of magnesium or aluminum and they undergo galvanic corrosion over time, sacrificing themselves to prevent the tank from corroding.
Water Softener – some areas in the United States have water that has very high mineral contents. This is often referred to as hard water and they commonly cause scaling inside the tank. This can considerably decrease the life expectancy of the water heating unit. In most cases, however, installing a water softener greatly helps to reduce the wear on the plumbing system caused by hard water.
Installing a Pressure Regulating Valve – if your water heating unit generates a substantial amount of pressure, it will not only damage it or decrease its life expectancy of the water heater due to premature failure, but it may also be the cause of accidents and injuries should a catastrophic failure occur. In order to avoid the unnecessary buildup of pressure inside your water heater, you may want to install a pressure regulating valve on your water heating unit to further reduce the chance of a premature failure or catastrophic failure.
Installing a Thermal Expansion Tank – if you are using a closed system, installing an expansion tank can practically double the life of your water heating unit. When water is heated to 120° F, the water expands by as much as 2% of its total volume. This means if you are using a closed system, the valve in your equipment will prevent water from flowing back into the water main. Since water is not a compressible material, it will have no place to go except to force your tank and your plumbing to expand. However, as soon as it cools down, the tank and plumbing will revert back to their original shape. This expanding and contracting of the tank and plumbing can cause serious stress to their material and will eventually get damaged.
The installation of the thermal expansion tank should be done at the cold line. Although they are rated to be installed on the heated side, it is strongly recommended that they are installed on the cold line, downstream from the shutoff valve.
The truth is the expansion tank can be installed anywhere in the plumbing system and not necessarily near the proximity of the water heating unit. In fact, they can even be installed at any angle, something which will likely conflict with the instructions that comes with the add-on equipment. Most instructions coming from retail outlets will require you to install the expansion tank at a hanging vertical position. Since most expansion tanks sold come with saddle fittings, you are able to install the component on your system without the need to solder. This additionally makes installation much easier for the homeowner. The saddle fitting is generally a device that clamps around the pipes or plumbing. It has female threads which will basically allow it to accept the expansion tank.