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Maintaining Your Water Heater


Water Heater Basics

If your plumbing is noisy only when the hot water is running, the water temperature may be too high, creating steam in the pipes. Try lowering the temperature.

Is your hot water dirty?  Does it take a long time to reheat after the tank is exhausted?  Both indicate sediment in your water heater’s tank.

To clear sediment from a tank, turn off the gas or power and the cold-water inlet valve.  Open an upstairs hot-water faucet.  Then attach a garden hose to the drain valve and drain the tank through the hose into a floor drain.  This may take a few hours.  Reopen the cold-water valve and let the water run through the empty tank until the water drains clear.

It’s easy to prevent sediment buildup.  Drain the tank into a pail (or through a hose) until the water is clear two to four times a year, or monthly for very hard water.

No hot water from your electric water heater?  If a tripped circuit breaker or a blown fuse isn’t the cause, turn off the power, remove the access panel, and press the reset button on the upper thermostat.  Replace the access panel; then restore power and test.

If your heater runs out of hot water often, you may be doing tasks that consume lots of hot water too close together.  One tub bath can exhaust a typical 40-gallon tank and it can take up to an hour to reheat.

To find out how quickly your water heater recovers, look for a plate on it that notes how many gallons it can heat in an hour.