Maintaining Your Water Heater

There are lots of great choices available to homeowners when it comes to choosing a water heater. Some are electric while others are gas fueled. Maintaining your water heater is a good choice that you will need to make for better preservation of the system because most of us often take maintenance for granted.

Types of Water Heaters

Choosing the correct water heater for your home or office can be quite daunting, especially if you are not aware of what types are out there. Today there are many choices as water heaters come in the following varieties:

  • Electric
  • Gas
  • Oil
  • Tankless


A popular option is the electric water heater. They are cheap to buy and very easy to install, depending on the location of where it is going. The downside is that the cost to operate them has gone up over the years and still continues to do so. Another upside is that they are relatively easy to repair. If a heating element or a thermostat fails it can be a cheap repair. If the tank itself cracks then the water heater will have to be replaced.


Gas water heaters are the most popular type of water heater as they use natural gas or propane as the fuel source. These water systems are economically efficient to run and the energy savings make it one of the best choices. Another great option for gas water heaters is one that has an electric ignition which automatically lights the burners without having a pilot light. The pilot light is old technology and today’s efficiency standards will not allow manufacturers to install them due to the constant burning of gas that is the pilot.


A oil powered water heater has just as fast recovery time as the gas system does. The only downside to an oil based system is that it requires a lot more maintenance. There is no need for a pilot light which makes the unit safe to run.


A tankless system can be fueled by natural gas, propane or electricity. They do not require a storage unit or a tank. This is why they are called a “tankless” systems. A tankless water heater benefit is that it provides hot water on demand when a faucet opens. Most of these will be gas fueled. The electric models will need more room on the electric panel. A Electrician will be needed to inspect your panel or panels to see if this can even be an option for you.

Signs That Your Water Heater Is Going Bad

You might not give too much thought to your water heater, but when it starts giving you trouble you will have to be ready to act fast. This means you will need to recognize the warning signs. If you experience any of the following signs, you are going to need to replace or have your system repaired

  • Noise
  • No Hot Water
  • Leaking
  • Slow Recovery Time


If you hear strange rumbling noises coming from you water heater system, it can be a build up problem of the sediment inside. The air bubbles that rise through the sediment are what cause the actual rumbling. The sediment can cause the heating element to burn out.

No Hot Water

If you are getting warm but no hot water, this means one of the heating elements or thermostats may have gone out. In a conventional water tank, there are two heating elements and there might be two thermostats or just one. When one works and the other does not, there will be no hot water.


If you see water around or under your tank, the tank is either rusting out or cracking. This means that it will need to be replaced. Sediment can be trapped in a gasket and this can cause water to drip from a plumbing connection. A new water tank will not give you these problems.

Slow Recovery Time

If you are noticing that your water heater has a slower recovery time after running a load of laundry, doing a load of dishes or after taking a shower, the sediment building up could be affecting the heating elements. When sediment builds up on the heating elements it interferes with the heating of the water. This will lengthen the time it takes to heat the water.

Maintenance For a Water Tank

When water heaters are working great, you can have hot water anytime that you need it. A water heater can be a very reliable appliance if given the proper maintenance. Maintenance will help with the life span of the system and help it run more efficiently. The typical lifespan of a water heater is anywhere from 10-15 years. And you must concern yourself with the following in order to keep it maintained:

  • Flushing the System
  • Pressure Relief Valve
  • Safety


Any time that you are servicing your water heater, always remember to turn the power supply off. This is due to most heaters being hard wired, you will need to turn off the breaker on the panel. If you own a gas heater, before the maintenance begins, turn the gas switch to the off position.

Flushing the System

Your water heater should be flushed out at least every six months. This will help to keep all the sediment from corroding the tank because sediment build up can also help to cut down on the water tanks heating elements efficiency also.

Pressure Relief Valve

The pressure relief valve is a brass valve located on the upper side of the water heater, the newer models have it mounted on the top. When and if a tank becomes too over pressurized, the valve cuts out to relieve the pressure. Testing the valve will help this problem from occurring and preventing any future damage. There have even been reports on the valve being completely non functional. This usually leads to the water heater becoming a missile and being very dangerous.


Following these simple steps will prevent you from having to prematurely replace it along with costly repairs. If you live in the Middle Tennessee area, and need us for help, Please call us at 615-864-9459 and a H20 Plumbing expert can come out for any maintenance or installation.