With proper water heater maintenance, the average service life a water heater in Fairfax, VA is only about eight to 12 years, making it the most frequently replaced large household appliance in most homes. You can shorten its life span even further by neglecting basic water heater maintenance. These DIY procedures take only a few minutes once a year. In locales where the municipal or rural water supply is especially “hard” due to a high content of dissolved minerals, you may want to follow these tips even more frequently.
1. Set the thermostat dial to 120 degrees or lower. To prevent scalding hazards, water heater thermostats should never be set higher. Temperatures above 120 degrees may also induce greater mineral sediment in areas with hard water.
2. Test the pressure relief valve. It’s a spring-loaded handle on a small valve located on the side of the heater near the top. Lift the handle, verify that water spurts out into the drain tube (you can usually hear it), then let the handle snap closed. Check to make sure it seals properly with no seepage. If any of the above doesn’t go according to plan, contact a plumbing professional.
3. Flush the tank :
- Shut off the gas valve on an electric water heater, or turn off electricity to an electric heater. Let the tank cool.
- Close the cold water inlet valve.
- Connect a garden hose to the heater drain outlet near the bottom of the tank. Run the other end of the hose outside to some suitable draining area.
- Open the drain outlet. As the water drains, hold the spring-loaded pressure relief valve open to admit air into the tank.
- After the tank drains, flush a few gallons of cold water through the tank by briefly opening the cold water valve.
- Close the tank drain and disconnect the garden hose. Open the cold water inlet valve and let the tank fill completely.
- Restore power or gas flow to the heater. Re-light the pilot light if equipped.
For more information on water heater maintenance in the Fairfax area, please contact us at Brennan’s Heating & Air.