Storage Tank Water Heater Maintenance

Storage Tank Water Heater Maintenance
September 8, 2011 Lorelie

Regular storage tank water heater maintenance is important, most especially if you consider the fact that you live in an area where water has high mineral content.  This makes it imperative for homeowners to have periodic inspections and maintenance over their water heaters in order to keep their units in good and efficient working condition.  This makes partial draining and flushing on a yearly basis helpful as this will help to prevent any scale and lime buildup on the tank and thereby extending its life.

Flushing Your Storage Tank Water Heater

Flushing the storage tank is fairly easy, especially for people who like doing hands-on work.  However, when performing this procedure, you need to be wary as you risk yourself of being scalded with hot water.

The reason why you need to flush your storage tank on a yearly basis is because the sediments that gather inside your tank can cause serious efficiency problems as they almost often harden when they settle at the bottom of the tank.  On gas or propane water heaters, the sediment buildup at the bottom of the tank will cause serious efficiency problems as the sediments acts as a buffer wherein it inhibits the immediate heating of the water.  Rumbling noises are evident when the water heater is not efficiently operating as it was designed to.  This is also the same with electric water heaters.  Sediments stick to the heating elements of the unit in a form of a whitish scale, similar to what you find inside a highly used kettle.  When water is being heated, this scale acts as a buffer wherein the heat transfer from the heating element to the water is lessened and thereby reducing efficiency.  The efficiency is further reduced as the scale becomes thicker.  In fact, if the accumulation of sediments at the bottom of the tank becomes too great, there is a chance that the drain valve of the tank will become clogged.  This type of accumulation can be prevented and controlled through regular flushing.  Although it will not remove every trace of sediment, it will however prevent the excessive buildup of it.  The procedure below shows you how to flush your tank:

1. Turn off the unit.  If you have a gas unit, set it to “pilot” to prevent the burners from turning on while you are flushing the unit.  If you have an electric unit, make sure to turn off the circuit breakers.

2. Connect a hose on the drain valve.  Place the other end of the hose on a floor drain or snake it outside.  Make sure the outlet hose is safely located away from pets and children as the water can be very hot and may scald when touched.

3. Close the shut off valve that allows cold water in.

4. Carefully open the pressure relief valve on top of the tank and leave it open.

5. Open the drain valve at the bottom to drain the water from the tank.

- If sediments clog the drain valve, close the pressure relief valve and turn on the cold water inlet valve to flush some of the sediments out.]

- Should the sediments have hardened enough into chunks, you may need to empty the tank by turning on the hot water taps.  Once the tank is empty, you need to remove the garden hose and use an ice pick or a long screwdriver to crack and shatter the clog.

6. Draining is done once the garden hose runs clear.

7. Remove the garden hose and close the drain valve.

8. Close the pressure relief valve and turn on the cold water inlet valve.

9. Open a hot water tap and allow it to run until air no longer comes out of the tap.

10. Turn on the heater.

Homeowners need to flush their water heaters regularly, every six months at the very least.  However, in some areas of the country that have hard water, they may need to do this procedure more often.  Once you have flushed your water heater several times, you will be able to form a schedule that is suitable in preventing the buildup of sediments in your area.  Some areas though will require monthly flushing due to condition of the water in that area.

Simple Maintenance Tips

  • Annually check your temperature and pressure relief valve to see if they are working properly.  Check the manual for procedures on how to check them.  If the valve is no longer working, make it a point to have it replaced.
  • At least every 6 months, drain the water tank from water to remove any sediments that might have built up or accumulated in the tank.  (see procedure at top: flushing your storage tank water heater)
  • If you have a gas-fired storage tank water heater, make sure to regularly inspect the exhaust stack to ensure that the pipe connections are secure and are without any obstruction, corrosion, or rust.  It is important for gas-fired water heaters to vent their gasses towards the outside of the home.  If some gas escapes to the inside of the home, accumulation of carbon monoxide may occur which is deadly if exposed to for prolonged periods.
  • Make sure to check the insulation blanket at least every three months to ensure that it is kept in proper position.  It is equally important to check if the insulation blanket is not blocking any combustion air inlet or the exhaust vents of gas units for that matter.
  • Try checking the temperature setting of your water heater unit.  If the temperature is anywhere above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, you are not just wasting energy, but you are also increasing the risk that anyone from your family will be scaled from the hot water coming out of the tap.
  • At least every 6 months, check the temperature gauge of your boiler to and see if it working under the correct temperature setting.

Regular maintenance of any equipment is important as this not only helps to lengthen the life expectancy of your unit, but it also allows you to detect any problems earlier on.  If a problem is detected earlier, the cost for repairs will surely be at the minimal thereby saving you more money.

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