Just about every home has a hot water heater. This essential piece of equipment provides the hot water we take for granted for comfortable and sanitary living. Normally, you may not even think about your hot water heater… unless you run out of hot water, of course. As the weather gets colder, it’s a good idea to keep the health of your hot water heater in mind as we progress into winter.

Here are a few things to watch to give you peace-of-mind when it comes to your hot water supply.

Replace old hot water heaters

It used to be that a hot water heater could last 15-20 years or so. However, these days, they aren’t built to last that long. You can expect the need to replace your tank every 10-12 years. You will be able to tell the age of your hot water tank by looking at the tag on the unit. The installation date is a good thing to which to pay attention. If your hot water tank is aged and nearing the end of its life, you should start considering the inevitable.

Here’s the thing: hot water heaters give very little warning that they are able to expire. Usually, they simply develop a leak, and that leak will get progressively worse as time marches on. Shortly after, you’ll have a mess to clean AND a tank to change.

Look for leaky hot water tanks

It’s important to periodically check your hot water heater to make sure that it’s not leaking. Most hot water heaters are placed near a floor drain and/or the sump pump basin. We normally suggest putting the heater in a safety pan and running a drain from the pan to the floor drain to catch any leaks.  This avoids the potential for any leaks to spread, form pools, and, potentially, create an environment for mold and mildew.

One way to monitor for leaks is to purchase and install a battery-operated water alarm. These products can be purchase from about $12-40 at your local hardware store. They can be placed directly on floors or mounted for installation in a variety of locations. Some units can detect as little as 1/32” of water, and, when sensed, a 110+ decibel alarm will sound to notify you that there’s a water problem. These handy gadgets can help you to better manage the lifecycle of your water heater.

Keep your water heater clean

Most modern hot water heaters are “self cleaning” – they don’t really require any special care or maintenance. However, older models may require period flushing of the system to remove the buildup of mineral deposits and other impurities which can cause problems. In the case of those latter systems here’s a simple set of steps to draining your tank:

  1. Turn off the water supply.
  2. Turn off the heat.
  3. Allow the tank to rest overnight to cool.
  4. Attach a hose to the drain valve and run it to your floor drain, sump pump basin, or utility sink.
  5. Open the hot water tap on your sink.
  6. Open the drain valve until all of the water is removed.
  7. Close the drain valve.
  8. Refill the tank by turning on the supply valve.
  9. Restart the water heater.

Contact your plumber for hot water heater help

If you find that your hot water heater is giving you problems, contact your dependable, reliable, and courteous plumbing experts here at DRC Plumbing and Sewer by calling 708-203-7057 or clicking the button below to send us a message.

Contact a Plumber 24/7