How Can I Extend the Life of My Water Heater?
The Consumer Product Safety Commission says that just about every day someone gets injured or killed by an exploding water heater. But if a water heater is properly cared for, it can last from 20-40 years. The first water heater you buy and install could be the last one you need, if you follow the suggestions in this article. In addition, a properly maintained water heater can reduce your energy costs by up to 15%. Besides the expense, stress and damage that a leaking, under-performing or exploding water heater can cause, safety to you and your family is also a priority.
Frequent precision tune-ups and professional inspections by a licensed, experienced Plumber is vital for maintaining the proper function of your water heater and extending it's life. Your qualified area plumber should inspect and tune the following areas:
- Check combustion chamber
- point ionic leak detector
- Evaluate the Sacrificial Anode
- Flush out any sediment
- Replace the Thermocouple
- Inspect Vents
- Test the Back Draft
- Check for any gas leaks
- Check the stabilization & balancing of the water heater
- Check the tank expansion pressure
- Inspect emergency safety relief valves
- Test T & P valves
Your plumber will explain what any of the above components are, and how they affect the function of your w. heater. Also, be sure to choose an experienced plumber for the area where you reside. For instance, if you life in the Oklahoma City area, you would want to consult a Oklahoma City plumber who is familiar with some of the common problems unique to Oklahoma City, such as hard water. Hard water tends to cause premature rusting and corrosion to your pipes and w. heater. The rust forms sediment at the bottom of your w. heater and will need to be flushed. The Oklahoma City plumber will inspect the condition of your w. heater and assess the remaining length of its life. You don't want to wait until your water heater explodes before you replace it. Also, the Oklahoma City plumber will be able to make recommendations when it does come time to replace your old w. heater. They know from experience which models of heaters tend to hold up the best to the hard water.
In addition to regular inspections by your qualified plumber, there are also certain enhancements that can be added to your w. heater in order to improve and extend its function. We will discuss some of these enhancements here:
Contamination Trap - This device helps to minimize the amount of sediment that might accumulate at the bottom of your water heater tank. When sediment begins to build, this puts a strain on your water heater, impairing its ability to heat the water. This increases your energy use and results in a higher utility bill. But it also grows bacteria, begins to smell, causes the water heater to be very noisy from the vibrations. Eventually, it can burn out the heating elements in your water heater, shortening its lifespan.
Thermal Expansion Tank - This reduces and manages the pressure inside your water heater, protecting your home, yourself and your family from an explosion. Also, it extends the life of your water heater since it isn't under as much pressure.
Anode Rod - Also known as the "sacrificial Anode". This device sacrifices itself in order to extend the life of your w. heater. It works by attracting oxidants away from the walls of the tank, and onto itself instead. It slowly corrodes and rusts away instead of the inside of your tank rusting and corroding away. In all, the Anode Rod is an important component for prolonging the life of your water heater. Even once installed, the Anode Rod needs to be inspected on a regular basis to make sure it still is doing its job. Once it starts breaking down, then the oxidants will once again look for a more suitable host...the walls of your water heater.
Easy Flush Drain Down Valve - This device makes it more convenient to maintain your w. heater tank. It is an easy way to empty your water heater tank for maintenance.
Electronic Leak Alert - It alerts you to water leaks originating from your heater, thus allowing you to quickly respond before water damages your home, or before an explosion occurs. You can consider it an early warning system to help prevent serious problems related to your heater.
Emergency Water and Gas Shut Off Valve - Also known as "WAGS". This valve is attached to your w. heater. If a leak occurs, even if you are not home, a water soluble disc inside the WAGS device dissolves instantly, releasing a powerful spring-loaded piston that fires and closes the flow of water to the tank immediately. In fas water heaters, it will also shut off the gas supply to the heater. The technology used to create WAGS was originally developed for the British Royal Air Force. This device is highly reliable and requires no power source in order to operate. When you come home and see that your WAGS device fired, you will know that it saved you from extensive water damage, countles hours of cleanup and thousands of dollars in repairs.
Most of the above enhancements can be installed at the same time you are installing a brand new w. heater, OR they can even be added to your existing w. heater now. Some enhancements are more recommended for particular geographic areas than others. For instance, since Oklahoma City is known for its hard water, which can cause premature rusting, the Sacrificial Anode is a definite must, as well as the Easy Flush Drain Down Valve, to make it easier for frequent cleaning and flushing of sediments and rust. Consult a Oklahoma City plumber for help installing these enhancements, and for frequent inspections of your water heater to ascertain the extent of rust damage on a regular basis. A qualified plumber in Oklahoma City will be able to take a look at your water heater and make suggestions for the best way to extend your particular unit, as well as to protect your home and family.