3 Signs Your Water Heater Needs Maintenance

Leaking water heater

First, the bad news: in many homes, replacing the water heater is the most frequent—and expensive— major plumbing repair in the house. While the average maximum service life is about 12 years, some heaters may last only half that long, particularly if hard water is prevalent in the area. Now, the good news: Proper maintenance performed by a qualified plumber can extend water heater life expectancy and make the high cost of replacement a far less frequent expense. Professional preventive maintenance ensures maximum service life from your heater, as well as reducing water heating bills. Here are three signs that you’re overdue for a check-up:

High Operating Costs

Dissolved minerals in your local municipal water supply accumulate as a layer of sediment inside your water heater tank. This causes the heater to run longer to heat water to the proper temperature, boosting monthly bills. This hardened mineral sediment, known as scale, affects all plumbing and is a major cause of early water heater replacement. While it’s still loose, sediment can be easily flushed out of the tank—a straightforward maintenance procedure any qualified plumber can handle. However, if sediment is allowed to harden over time, the entire heater must be replaced. Schedule regular water heater flushing once a year to keep the tank sediment-free.

Water Smells Funny

The anode installed inside your water heater prevents corrosion that eventually causes tank leakage. Over time, the anode gradually dissolves as it is exposed to corrosives in the water. This process may add an increasingly obvious “rotten egg” smell to hot water. Anode inspection should be performed every three years by a plumber. If it’s found to be deteriorating, this screw-in component can be replaced without replacing the entire heater.

Dribbling TPR Valve

It stands for “Temperature and Pressure Relief” valve. Installed in the top or side of the tank, the TPR valve opens automatically to relieve excess pressure inside the tank caused by high water temperature. It’s an important safety component. However, problems with the TPR aren’t usually related to reliable operation of the valve. They’re related to leakage. A TPR valve that dribbles continuously (usually because mineral deposits interfere with sealing) wastes water and causes the heater to cycle on and off more frequently. A plumber can check for proper sealing of the valve and easily replace it if it’s leaky.

If you found this blog helpful, you may want to check out our post “Hot Water Circulation: The Grundfos Water Recirculation System.”

North County Plumbing is located in Vista, California and has been in the service business since 1970 providing quality plumbing services including leak detection and drain service in northern San Diego County. Our qualified technicians are available 24 hours a day to help with emergency plumbing repair services…with no overtime charges!

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