HVAC Maintenance Checklist: Water Heaters

There’s nothing worse than turning on the shower, only to find ice cold water streaming down. We expect hot water at our fingertips, but the truth is, water heater malfunctions are more common than you think.

With the average cost for a residential water heater ranging $1,500 – $5,000, it’s worth noting the routine maintenance steps that are recommended by your water heater manufacturer.

Check your temperature

Before we talk maintenance, check your temperature. The ideal temperature for your water heater is 120 degrees. Lowering the temperature can save you money while also saving you from scalding water accidents. To adjust the temperature, Find the temperature dial (usually on the side of the tank) and unscrew its cover. For every 10 degrees the temperature is lowered, you can expect to save up to 5 percent in energy costs. Also, turn the thermostat down to its lowest setting if you plan to be away from home for more than three days.

How hard can it be?

The hardness of your water determines the frequency of your water heater maintenance. (In scientific terms, water hardness is the amount of dissolved calcium and magnesium in water.) While annual maintenance is the basic requirement, harder water means more mineral content, which calls for more frequent cleaning. According to Denver Water, Colorado’s water is slightly harder in the winter, when many lakes and streams freeze. It is softer during late spring through fall, when the snow melts and causes runoff that makes its way into the reservoirs. Check with your local municipality or your water bill to determine your water-hardness level.

Don’t forget to flush

Once you determine your water hardness level, Front Range HVAC can determine the frequency for flushing your water heater. As mentioned, it should be completed at least once per year, but quarterly may be recommended for higher mineral counts. Flushing your water heater gets rid of accumulated gunk and mineral deposits, helping your hot water heater run more efficiently, prolonging its life and saving you money in the long run.

What the anode?

Our water lines contain metals and water. When these two elements combine,  galvanic corrosion happens. To prevent the tank from rusting or your heater element from corroding, water heaters contain a temporary steel core wire called an anode rod. The life expectancy of an anode rode depends on many factors, including water hardness levels. While they can last up to five years, Front Range HVAC technicians check the anode rod during annual maintenance.

The four fundamentals

In addition to these flushing your tank and checking your anode rod, every residential water heater maintenance job from Front Range HVAC includes four fundamental tests and diagnostics, including:

  1. Heating element test. The heating element test is crucial to ensuring that whatever heating element is being used to heat your water – be it gas or electric – it is in good condition.
  2. Water retention test. How well is the water heater transferring water from within it to other areas of the home? Is the operating pressure within the manufacturer’s guidelines? We’ll check to be sure of everything.
  3. Electrical performance test. Many water heaters rely on electrical thermostats to maintain the ideal water temperature. We’ll check to ensure that yours is calibrated correctly.
  4. Efficiency test. It’s common for older water heaters to start losing out in the area of efficiency even before complete failure. We’ll check to see if this is happening to your unit.

With regular care and maintenance, water heaters can last 10+ years. So, before you get ready to relax in that hot bath, be sure to schedule your water heater maintenance with Front Range HVAC.