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5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Your Home’s Water Heater

If you’re like most homeowners, you know the basics about your water heater: what fuel it uses, where it’s located, and that it heats water. However, if you want to prevent potential problems with your water heater and help the equipment last as long as possible, there is some additional information you should know.

Below, we’ll go into a little more depth about your water heater and equip you with some more knowledge about how it works and what it needs to operate at its best.

adjusting water heater thermostat

1. Your water heater needs to be flushed.

Whether you own a tank or tankless model, you should flush your water heater once a year to keep it operating as efficiently as possible. In tank models, sediment can start to fill up the bottom of the water storage tank and cover the heating element. In tankless models, mineral buildup can coat the heating element and other components.

Flushing your water heater helps eliminate this buildup. While this task can be performed on a “DIY” basis, you can always enlist a professional’s help to make sure it’s done right.

2. Your tank water heater contains a specialized part to keep it from rusting.

Considering water heater tanks are made mostly of metal, you might wonder what keeps them from rusting in a matter of weeks. First, your water heater’s tank is lined with a glass layer that protects the metal. Additionally, the tank contains a component called the sacrificial anode rod to prevent the tank walls from corroding.

The sacrificial anode rod is typically made of a metal like magnesium, zinc, or aluminum. These metals rust quickly in water. When placed in the tank, they attract “the forces of corrosion” to them, which causes these metals to rust in place of other metals in your water heater.

As you can probably guess, the sacrificial anode rod does not last forever. It’s a good idea to check on it every four to five years to see if it needs to be replaced. Once it gets “eaten up” down to the core, it will stop performing its essential function, and your water heater can begin to rust.

3. If your water heater is leaking, it typically only needs a repair.

The only time a repair is not recommended is when your water heater tank is leaking. This typically occurs when the tank has corroded so much that the walls have cracked, forming a leak. There is no good way to repair this damage, and it’s best to replace your water heater before it floods your garage, basement, or utility closet floor.

The rest of the time, water heater leaks you can repair are usually in these locations:

  • The water supply lines
  • Right where the supply lines connect to the water heater
  • The temperature and pressure relief (T & P) valve
  • The drain line

4. Your water heater’s lifespan varies greatly depending on which type it is.

Tankless water heaters have the longest lifespan, lasting on average for more than 20 years. Tank water heaters cost less to purchase; however, their expected lifespan is only about 10 years.

5. You can save money by switching your tank water heater to “vacation mode.”

One advantage of tankless water heaters is that they only use energy to heat water right at the moment you need to use hot water. Tankless water heaters store water in a tank and use energy throughout the day to continuously keep that water hot and ready for use.

If no one is going to be home for several days, there’s no point in having your tank water heater waste energy on keeping water warm. Save money on your energy bill by switching your water heater to its “vacation mode,” or lower the degrees on its thermostat to 50 degrees fahrenheit.

For reliable water heater repairsin Nashville, count on the experts at Michael's Plumbing Service: (615) 645-2322!

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