5 Easy Ways to Extend the Life of Your Hot Water Heater by 30%

Hot water heaters are the kind of appliance that most people install and forget. Typically hidden away in a closet somewhere, they don’t make lots of noise so it’s easy to assume your hot water heater will do its job without you. Then, something goes wrong and that same appliance you weren’t paying much attention to, suddenly needs your love and care.

Corrosion, rust, sediment build-up, leaks, and even failure to heat your water are all problems that may accompany an aging hot water heater. Most manufacturer recommendations say that the average life of a hot water heater is 8 – 12 years.

The good news for you: it’s possible to extend that life by up to 30 percent (3 to 5 years) with some ongoing maintenance and care.

How to Extend the Life of Your Hot Water Heater

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your hot water heater and making sure that it lasts as long as possible.

Perform regular maintenance and basic checks at least once a year.
Giving your hot water heater a regular check-up is one of the best ways to keep it in top working condition long into the future. It’s similar to having a physical at the doctor’s office each year – doing this annual check can identify any potential problems long before they become an expensive issue.

An annual hot water heater check-up should include the following steps:

  • Check temperature settings
  • Check the pressure release valve
  • Identify any insulation issues with the pipes and tank
  • Examine the anode rod

Start with the temperature pressure relief valve (also known as the TPR or T&P valve). This is a safety feature that every hot water heater has, and will open if too much pressure or heat builds up inside of the tank. This prevents dangerous explosions or damage to the heater.

The valve is simple to check – just turn off your gas or electricity then open and close the valve a few times. A properly functioning valve will always release water when it’s open, so if no water is released, it’s time to replace the T&R valve to keep your tank operating smoothly.

Drain and flush the hot water heater annually

As impurities in water are heated, they often condense into chunks. These chunks collect in the bottom of the tank, eventually forming a layer of sediment. Over time, the inside of the tank becomes coated, the anode rod develops a layer of build up, and loose sediment can even float in the tank causing some operational noise.

As this sediment forms, it begins to impact the efficiency of the tank and can increase your electric bill over time. If not addressed, it can cause premature problems. Limit these issues by simply draining and flushing out your hot water heater once every year.

This takes less than an hour and will make a huge impact on your hot water heater’s overall performance. Here is a great video from YouTuber iScaper1 that shows how simple this is to do.

Replace the anode rod every 3 years

An anode rod exists to prevent corrosion, or at least slow it down. With a steel core, the anode rod is coated with either magnesium or aluminum and produces an electrochemical reaction, attracting corrosive elements, such as calcium, to the rod rather than to the sides and bottom of the tank.

Once the anode rod wears out, the tank itself will begin to corrode. When inspecting your tank, check for high levels of build up on the anode rod and look for places where the core material shows through. If either of these exist, it’s time to replace the anode rod.

We do recommend having a professional plumber tackle this aspect of hot water heater maintenance as it is a more difficult process. Replacing an anode rod is well worth it, though, in order to extend the life of your hot water heater.

Check the heating elements or thermostat

If you suddenly discover that your hot water is no longer producing hot water, it’s time to check the thermostat and the heating elements. These parts often fail before the whole hot water heater reaches the end of its life. They can easily be replaced, extending your hot water heater’s overall lifespan.

Set your temperature at 120 degrees Fahrenheit

120 degrees Fahrenheit is hot enough for most homes. Higher temperatures can cause sediment to build up more rapidly, as well as increase the risk for scalding or burns.

Call for Help!

Don’t hesitate to call Home Angels if you’re feeling overwhelmed with the idea of maintaining your hot water heater. Our professionals are happy to assist you in any way to extend the life of your unit, or to replace one that has failed.