It's a good idea to drain a water heater tank once a year. This removes sediment collecting in the tank, which comes in the form of naturally occurring minerals found in the water, along with sand and grit flushed from the municipal water supply. Over time, sediment degrades the heater's energy efficiency and performance and will clog valves and drains. Left uncleared, sediment leads to the appliance's premature failure.

Step 1: Cut Power and Water Supply

If you have an electric-powered water heater, shut off the power at the circuit breaker box. Most electric water heaters have their own breaker. Its important to note that electric heating elements will burn out if left active when the water level has dropped below them.

For a gas-powered water heater, locate the thermostat and turn the setting to "pilot."

Next, find the cold water supply line connected to the top of the tank and close the valve so water is no longer feeding into the tank.

Caution: the water in the tank will stay hot for several hours with the potential to cause injury even after you have shut off the power. Allow time for the water to cool.

Step 2: Connect Drainage Hose

Locate the drain valve near the bottom of the tank. Some models will have a cover over the valve that you need to remove.

Connect a standard garden hose to the valve and tighten.

If your water heater is above ground, like a first-floor utility closet or garage, run the garden hose outdoors to a place where the water can drain safely.

If the heater is in a basement, lead the hose to a floor drain if one exists. Otherwise, you will need to connect to a portable pump. Attach a second hose to the pump and run it outdoors to an ideal drainage area.

Step 3: Open the Hot Water Taps

Now you need to release the water pressure by opening the hot water faucets around your home. This alleviates the suction in the pipes —much like taking your finger off the end of a liquid filled straw.

This is a great time for someone to take a long, hot shower. It will speed up the drainage process.

Step 4: Open the Drain Valve

Return to the water heater to begin the drainage by opening the drain valve. If you have connected a pump, as mentioned above, it's time to activate it.

Allow the tank to empty. Don't forget that the water is still hot.

Step 5: Finishing the Job

Once the tank is empty, turn off the hot water faucets. Now you can go ahead with flushing or other maintenance work.

When you are finished, close the drain valve and remove the hose. Replace the cap if there was one. Open the cold water supply valve you closed earlier to refill the tank. Watch the drain valve to make sure it's not leaking and tighten it as needed.

When the tank is full, you can restore the electricity or gas power. Take caution by not turning on the heater before the tank is full, as this might damage the heating elements. Check the manufacturer's documentation for more information.

If you have any problems during this process, don't hesitate to contact a licensed plumbing and heating professional.

No water heater will last forever, but most units can have long, useful lives with a little help. Prolong the life of your water heater and get the most out of your investment by taking the following steps.

Try a Water Softener

Depending on your location, the water itself could shorten the lifespan of your water heater. If you live in an area where the water naturally has high levels of mineral deposits, over time the minerals will accumulate inside the tank. This phenomenon, known as scaling, can greatly shorten the lifespan of a water heater. That means it's in your best interest to eliminate the minerals before they have the chance to ruin the unit. Install a water softener to reduce scaling as well as decrease overall wear and tear on the plumbing.

Flush the Tank

Over time, sediment builds up inside water heater tanks and reduces their efficiency. If enough time passes, the sediment can turn into a permanent layer in the tank and cause the unit to overheat or break down completely. To prevent damage and extend the life of an older water heater, flush the tank at least once a year. Though many newer models don't require flushing, most older ones do. If you're concerned about flushing the water heater yourself, call a contractor for professional help.

Add Another Anode Rod

Water heaters can typically withstand serious temperature fluctuations and constant exposure to water. Corrosion inside the water tank, however, can signal the end of a water heater's life. Most units have an aluminum or magnesium anode rod that helps limit internal corrosion. Give your water heater a boost and add a second anode rod to increase its ability to resist corrosion.

Install an Expansion Tank

When your water heater produces hot water, the thermal energy causes the fluid to expand in size. If your water heater operates on a closed system, which means water cannot return back through the water main, the heated water has nowhere to go but out. That often translates to increases and inconsistencies in water pressure. Over the years, this causes undue wear and tear on the water heater and the plumbing system as a whole.

If your system endures frequent changes in water pressure, consider installing an expansion tank. This unit stores the extra hot water to keep the system running fluidly, and it can increase the overall life of your water heater by as much as double.

Test the Pressure Relief Valve

Water heaters rely on the pressure relief valve to release pressure automatically when necessary. Because high pressure can cause the unit to explode, having a functioning valve is critical to prolonging the life of your water heater.

Once a year, test the pressure relief valve, which you'll generally find on top or on the side of the unit. Replace the valve if it malfunctions or shows signs of a leak, since you'll want to be sure it works properly when you really need it.

Extending the life of your water heater goes far beyond just performing regular maintenance. Follow these steps to help your unit live for as long as possible.

Water heaters are designed for safe operation, but they require regular monitoring and maintenance to keep hazards at bay. To keep your water heater running as safely as possible, keep the following best practices in mind.

Do: Schedule Regular Hot Water Heater Maintenance

Like any other major home appliance, your water heater needs periodic checkups in order to achieve peak performance and avoid major safety issues. Since sediment buildup inside your water heater can cause equipment failure and potential safety concerns, experts recommend that you flush your water heater at least once a year.

While you might be able to take on this task yourself, it's often easier to schedule water heater service with a professional technician. In addition to flushing the unit, a technician can identify potential malfunctions and test the safety relief valve.

Don't: Exceed Recommended Settings

When you install a water heater in your home or business, you want it to provide hot water on demand. If the unit no longer meets your needs or doesn't perform adequately, resist the temptation to increase the unit's temperature settings. Not only will setting the hot water temperature above 120 degrees fail to produce more hot water for your home or business, but it can also increase the water temperature to a level that's unsafe for your family or customers. If your unit doesn't meet your expectations, call your local water heater technician for a reliable solution.

Do: Modify the Unit's Settings When Necessary

While you shouldn't set most water heaters above 120 degrees, that doesn't mean you can't adjust the unit's settings under certain circumstances. When you'll be away on vacation for several days or you're closing down the business for the season, dial back the temperature settings accordingly. Reduce the unit's temperature to its lowest setting in order to save on energy costs and lower the chances of safety concerns while you're out of town.

Don't: Use Area Around the Unit for Storage

Whether your water heater is tucked away in a closet or occupies prime real estate in the basement, it's important to keep the area around the unit clear. Instead of storing items around or on top of the water heater, clear a radius of about two feet. Keeping this area clear allows for unobstructed airflow and eliminates the chance of flammable items catching fire or becoming damaged. Take the time to dust and clean around the unit every month or so in order to keep dust and debris away from the water heater.

Do: Know How to Shut Off the Water Heater

Though prevention is the best defense against major safety concerns, you should always know how to shut off the water heater in case of an emergency. Each unit is different, so refer to your owner's manual or call your local water heater professionals for assistance. If your water heater relies on natural gas, consider having an automatic shut-off valve installed to ensure that leaks won't cause hazardous conditions in your home.

Don't let neglect or carelessness compromise your water heater. Follow these guidelines to ensure safe water heater operation and usage.

As a homeowner, you know that different systems within your home need to be replaced at intervals. One of the biggest systems you need to keep an eye on is your water heater. While water heaters are generally expected to last approximately ten years, this isn't always the case. Depending on a number of factors, your water heater may last 20 years or more, or you may find that it gives out after only a few years. It's good to have an approximate idea of how long your particular water heater will last.

Installation

One of the biggest factors that helps determine how long your water heater will last is how it was installed. Improper installation affects the lifespan significantly. It's crucial that your water heater is installed upright—if it is on its side, there is inadequate support. This leads to structural stress and will cause premature failure of the water heater system. Well-ventilated areas are the best for water heaters. While this helps with nitrous-oxide buildup and fire safety, it also extends the life of the water heater.

Usage

As you're considering how long your water heater will last, make sure you keep in mind how much you use it. The more hot water used throughout the home, the more the system has to work. Water heaters with less usage generally last longer than those with a huge output. Make sure you get a water heater that can stand up to the volume you plan to use.

Water Type

The type of water in your area affects your water heater. If the water is corrosive, it's going to significantly shorten the lifespan of your water heater system. One way to help determine the life of your water heater is to get your water tested for corrosive chemicals. Along with this, hard water is more damaging to water heaters. If you have hard water, you can help extend the life of your water heater by getting a water softener.

Proper Maintenance

Keeping your water heater maintained extends how long the system lasts. If you are purchasing a home with an older water heater, or if it's been a while since you last got maintenance, make sure to get someone over to service the system. A good flush and maintenance helps get rid of dirt, debris, and minerals from the system

System Type

There are many different types of water heaters, and the style of your water heater affects how long it lasts. For example, a glass lined water tank is coated to help resist corrosion. Since there is less corrosion in the system, it is likely to last longer than older systems without this protection. A tankless system tends to last longer than a traditional tank water heater, with life spans of up to 20 years or more.

When you're estimating the life expectancy of your water heater, consider consulting with a professional. They can help you understand how your system works, explain the general span of your system, and offer suggestions to keep it running as long as possible.

Did you know that your water heater builds up sedimentary deposits over time? It's true, and it's potentially dangerous. People who fail to flush their water heaters run the risk of permanently damaging them. In extreme situations, they're prone to explode. That's why it's imperative to learn how to clean your system. Here's a guide on how to flush a water heater.

Why You Should Do It

You can tell when your appliance has built up sediment deposits. It'll grow louder due to the water sloshing around these chips. You'll hear a loud rattling sound that signifies your water heater needs flushing. The other warning sign is that your water takes longer to heat. The sediments soak up the hot water, reducing the core temperature of a device designed to dispense warmth. That also adds to the cost of your utility bill. Performing the flush also extends the life of your water heater.

Before You Begin

You must take care of a few items before performing the actual flushing of the water heater. You'll need to buy some parts first. A new drain valve is the key to removing the dangerous sediments. You should find them in home improvement stores. You'll attach the valve to garden hose to perform the task.

Also, you'll want to take care of two common sense tasks. You'll need to shut out the electricity to your water heater to avoid electrocution. You'll also turn off the incoming water supply while your water heater is inactive. Otherwise, you'll have a mess and potential water damage to your floor. Finally, let your water heater rest long enough for it to cool. This is not a task to attempt while the heater is hot to the touch.

Flushing the Water Heater

The first step is to attach your water hose to the new drain valve. Then, you should turn on all the faucets and spigots in your home. The goal is to drain all the hot water out of the unit before performing the flush.

Now that the tank is empty, the goal is to get rid of all the sediment build-up in your appliance. You want to turn the water valve to begin the flushing process. Be gentle with it since the valve is easy to break. The water heater must drain completely before you can go ahead. Note that the flush could take some time. That's because the build-up slows the draining.

As the flush is completed, you should use a bucket to capture the last of the water. See if it still contains some sediment. If so, you'll want to repeat the process. The other way to test this is to add water back into your unit. Then, drain some of it into the bucket. If it's clear, you're done. If it's not, you still have an unclean water heater. In that case, flush it again.

Regular flushing helps maintain your water heater and makes an important difference in your utility bills and the safety of your home. Follow the steps above to remove the sediment that's causing problems with the proper operation of your water heater.

Summer a gorgeous season of traveling, outdoor adventures, and fun with family and friends. If you're planning on leaving home for a long weekend or an extended vacation, it's a good idea to do some water heater maintenance before you go.

By ensuring your water heater is functioning properly, you'll have peace of mind while you're enjoying your lovely summer getaway. Here are a few tips for making sure your water heater is running efficiently and safely while you're away.

Lower the Thermostat

If you won't be home for several days and you won't be having a house sitter staying at your residence, it's a good idea to lower the thermostat on your water heater. Some water heaters even have a Vacation Mode, which sets your water temperature at a simple maintenance mode. Your water heater will still run and continue to draw power, but it won't work nearly as hard and will save you energy while you're away.

Drain the Plumbing

If you plan to be gone for a week or more, consider draining your plumbing. By flushing your water heater system and your household plumbing, you'll ensure that there is no stagnant water left sitting around or under your house. Draining your plumbing will drain your water heater, toilets, and pipes.

You'll be protected from leaks and won't come home to a waterlogged floor. Draining your plumbing will also protect your water heater from building up too much pressure and exploding. When you return home, you'll need to refill your water heater system. Some plumbing professionals also recommend flushing the system once more after you arrive home, to get rid of any debris or sediment that may have accumulated while you were away.

Turn Off Your Water

To protect your water heater and your home from all possible unwanted scenarios, it's a good idea to turn off the water to your whole house. By doing this, you won't have to worry about your water heater overflowing or becoming overpressurized. You can either leave your water heater on or drain it completely. Turning off your whole home's water supply will also protect against leaks and other possible problems that could arise while you're away.

Schedule an Inspection

If you plan to be gone for a few weeks or longer, now may be time to schedule your annual inspection. Though most people opt to have their system inspected every two to three years, it's highly recommended that you get your water heater system inspected every year. Ideally, have your inspection completed a few days before you leave for vacation. If your system needs repairs, you'll have time to fix them before you leave so you know that everything is safe while you're away.

To get the most out of your summer vacation, make sure that nothing is distracting you from the good times. Take care of your home's water heater system and prevent any leaks or floods with these easy steps. Then you'll be all set to relax and enjoy the gorgeous weather and great company.

Like you, your water heater is relieved that summer is finally here! Your water worked very hard this winter making sure that you and your family had enough hot water for long showers, doing dishes, and preparing those amazing holiday meals.

Now that winter has passed, it's a good time to check your water heater to make sure it's functioning properly. Here are four tips for maintaining your water heater during the summer.

Safety

Safety is of the utmost importance, so it's first on our list. Check to make sure that your water heater's safety relief valve and emergency shutoff valves are working properly. The emergency shutoff safety feature ensures your water heater doesn't overflow. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, the temperature pressure relief valve is the most important part of your water heater, as it keeps the pressure at a safe level and prevents explosions.

Temperature

As summer temperatures creep up, so does your utility bill. Whether your household uses fans, air conditioning units, or a central cooling system, chances are you'll be cranking these devices to stay comfortable in the summer heat.

To save money in the summer, the United States Department of Energy recommends that you turn your water heater's thermostat down. When it's hot outside, you won't want or need such hot water running through your house. Also, turning the thermostat down to 120 degrees can save your family a bundle. So adjust that thermostat and feel more comfortable indoors and with your monthly utility bill.

Cleaning and Replacement Parts

Your water heater runs by using a number of systems. First, if your water heater uses a pilot light, make sure it is working properly by extinguishing and relighting it. You'll also want to check the burner assembly unit to make sure that the heating system is working efficiently and not using unnecessary amounts of power.

Be sure to clean around your water heater. Any excess debris, dust, cobwebs, and clutter has the potential to catch fire if too much heat builds up, if there is a gas leak, or if there is a malfunction of the pilot light. Check your filters and replace them as needed. A clogged filter can lead to hazardous problems and an inefficient system.

Water Pressure and Quality

Draining your water heater once a year is a good way to make sure that your water quality and pressure stays at its highest. Flushing your water heater system allows you to check for sediment buildup and get rid of any deposits, if needed. This will make sure that sediment deposits don't restrict your water pressure or interfere with the system's ability to heat the water.

Schedule these annual maintenance tasks at the end of winter to ensure that the cold months and high demand for hot water haven't taken a toll on your system. By maintaining your water heater properly, you'll ensure that your family's water supply is safe and working efficiently as temperatures rise into summer.