Water Heaters, Do You Know?

Yes water heater tanks, not usually on our to do list in the home as far as maintenance.  But did you know that your water heater could be the single most dangerous component in your home if it malfunctions?  The TPR valve ( Temperature Pressure Release) that we mentioned in our email if not functional or bad can cause the tank to hold inordinate ammounts of pressure in the unit, causing the unit to leak at a weak point or to even explode!  Famous Youtube videos show how a water tank can explode and take off like a rocket right through a homes roof.  Yes, true, take time to watch a sampling, you will have a new found respect for your water heater. Anyway, your TPR valve can be tested by first turning the cold water off to the unit. You will then pull the pressure valve switch about halfway and let it go allowing it to close again.  You should here a slight rush of air or gurgling sound when doing this test on the TPR valve.  If it closes properly as described it appears to be sound and has passed the test for safety.  Our newsletter also spoke about bi-annual or annual flushouts of the heater, depending on conditions and size.  More sediment will build up in unit if home is on a private well and maintenance should be done more often. Same thing for a hard water condition, calciums and lime will build up more inside unit based on content of water.  Flushout is done by first turning off your electric to the water heater, a labeled circuit breaker in your main electrical panel.  If your water heater is gas turn the gas switch to the pilot position. Very important to make sure the energy source is off.  Next you will turn off your cold water supply to heater, stopping the water flow from the plumbing system.  On the lower end of your water heater you will see the drain valve where a garden hose can be connected.  Run the hose to either the outside of home or a bathtub for drainage, keeping in mind the water discharging from the unit during a flushout will be scalding hot, doing so with care and safety in mind.  Open the TPR valve at top of unit and also open the drain valve where you have just connected your garden hose.  The water heater will drain completely this way.  When done close both valves again and disconnect your hose. Turn a hot water faucet on in home and open the cold water valve on top of heater that was originally closed.  The unit will fill up and once you have water flow at open hot water faucet you are good to go and done with your flushout and refill.  Your last step will be to turn on the energy source, whether it be gas or electric.  Simple stuff that is a big part of your homes maintenance.  Another part of a water heater that can be monitored is the "Anode Rod", a metal rod installed down into inside of water heater tank which is there to attract the natural corrosions inside unit, keeping them from the walls and other components.  Check your diagram above for the rods location.  This Anode Rod can be removed every five years to check for its breakdown and appearance.  Tank should be empty when inspecting this component. If located in unit it can be accessed from the top of the tank, removing straight up and out.

In todays market there are also "Tankless" water heaters as well, a system of heating lines the water runs through with no tank.  Average lifespan of the tankless systems are 30 years or more, yes, a more convenient and longer lasting system if the affordability and supply is there.  I hope you have made it to this point of the article and this helped a bit to understand how this creature works.  Yes, the Water Heater!

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