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Everything You Need to Know About Water Heater Maintenance

Regular Water Heater Maintenance is Essential

Every water heater manufacturer, across the industry, recommends that your water heater receive maintenance every year. That’s right. Every 12 months is best for optimal performance and the life of your unit. Here are a few things you should know about how to maintain your water heater and get the most out of the life of your unit here in the Denver area.

Related: Preventative Maintenance to Your Water Heater Is a Must

  1. Know the Type of Water Heater You Have

Do you have an electric water heater or a gas water heater? Is it tanked or tankless? The maintenance varies for each, so it’s critical to know which type of unit you have. If you ‘re not sure, now is an ideal time to schedule an in-person inspection with one of our certified plumbing technicians.

  1. All Types: Flush Your Water Heater Annually

technician Andrew lays down a protective mat in front of a water heater; he kneels, preparing his tools for flushing the unit

High 5 Plumbing Tech Andrew L. prepares the space for a water heater flush © High 5 Plumbing

There’s one piece of maintenance that’s pretty standard across the spectrum of water heaters is flushing the unit. Every year, you should have your water heater flushed, regardless of whether it’s tanked, tankless, gas-powered, or electric.

Remember, if you’re a High 5 Club Member, you’re also entitled to one free water heater flush each year! So call us today to schedule your service.

Check out the video below, featuring one of our techs, Andrew. In it, he explains how and why this natural gas-powered water heater should be flushed.

Andrew performs a water heater flush on a Bradford White 50-gallon unit © High 5 Plumbing

Here’s what the flushing process looks like, step by step:

  • Shut off the water supply to your unit.

  • Shut off the power supply to your unit, whether that be the electrical supply or gas supply.

  • Drain the unit completely. You’ll get all the old water out, along with a lot of calcium and mineral buildup.

  • Turn on the water, let it run for a bit, and allow the unit to flush that water out.

  • Repeat the process once a year

Related: How to Prolong the Life of Your Water Heater

  1. Tankless Water Heaters: Descale

Tankless units should be flushed annually, just like tank water heaters. But these units require an extra step for proper flushing.

Water heater manufacturers recommend you cycle a special descaling solution through your unit. Why? Tankless water heaters don’t store water, so they tend to wear a bit differently than a standard tank water heater. As such, the maintenance is a bit unique. During your annual flush service, we’ll need to cycle that descaling solution through your unit for a minimum of 45 minutes to ensure that your tankless water heater is cleared of any particles and ready for another year of optimal performance.

  1. Tankless Water Heaters: Clean Your Inducer Motor

Tankless water heaters usually feature a fan to help push the exhaust out of the unit. Here in Colorado, during our cold months, the hot air being pushed out of your unit tends to attract a lot of bugs. As a result, the bugs like to fly into your vent line and clog your inducer motor. When this happens, your tankless water heater won’t be able to fire up and work properly.

To keep your water heater in optimal condition, it’s a good idea to have your inducer motor cleaned annually by a certified plumbing technician. You should never attempt to clean your inducer motor yourself, unless you are certified in that particular brand of water heater. The inducer motor can be cleaned any time of the year, regardless of the weather.

  1. Gas-Powered Water Heaters: Keep the Area Clean

If you have a gas-powered water heater, whether it’s tankless or tanked, the area where your water heater is located should remain clean at all times.

It might be easy to think, Oh, that’s just my mechanical room. It’s where my furnace and my water heater are. I don’t care if it gets dusty or dirty in there.

What a lot of our customers don’t realize is that most gas-powered water heaters, tankless and tanked, have to draw air from somewhere in order for the gas to burn properly.

Some units draw fresh air in from outside your home. But there are quite a few units that draw air from the interior of the room where they’re located. If this room is dirty, your unit is going to draw in a lot of dust. You’ll end up with clogged air ports and a water heater that’s working very inefficiently.

Related: 5 of the Best Reasons to Choose a High-Efficiency Water Heater for Your Home

Note: If you have an electric water heater, you don’t need to have a perfectly clean utility closet because the unit doesn’t require fresh air in order to operate properly. So a little bit of messiness there is okay. The most important piece of maintenance for your electric water heater is the annual flush (see above).

  1. Tank Water Heaters: Replace Your Anode Rod Regularly

First off, you may be thinking, what in the world is an anode rod? It’s actually a pretty brilliant little invention that plays a critical role within your water heater. An anode rod is a temporary steel core wire located inside of every tank water heater. It’s designed as a sort of “sacrificial lamb.” This deteriorating metal rod, usually made up of magnesium, aluminum, and zinc, attracts all the minerals (like calcium) and the “hardness” of our water that would otherwise damage the metal lining of your water heater. Over time, the anode rod sacrifices itself to corrosion, preventing damage to your tank--and even a potential explosion.

The anode rod, because of its function, is designed to exist temporarily in your water heater. Here in Colorado, your anode rod should be replaced every one to three years. A fully disintegrated rod will no longer attract the minerals in your water. Instead, those minerals will attach to the lining of your water heater and cause it to wear out faster.

Related: Are You Tired of Waiting on Hot Water?

Here’s a Quick Summary

Once you know the type of water heater you have and the power source it uses, you can determine the maintenance needed for your individual unit.

Tank Water Heaters:

  • Flush the unit annually

  • Replace the anode rod every one to three years

Tankless water heater maintenance:

  • Flush the unit annually

  • Use a descaling solution during the flush

  • Clean your inducer motor

Gas-powered water heaters:

  • Keep the area around your unit clean

Is your water heater due for some regular maintenance? Contact us today to schedule a maintenance service from one of our certified plumbing technicians.

Request Your Estimate Today!

At High 5 Plumbing, our trustworthy, reliable experts can help determine the right water heater maintenance for your unique situation. Call us today at 720-330-4868 or contact us online to get your expert estimate--fair and honest every time!

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