Water heater maintenance basics

A few hours of maintenance once a year will add years to the life of your water heater

A few years ago, I was at a seminar for home inspectors taught by a plumbing expert. He said “Raise your hand if you tell your customers to empty and refill the water heater yearly”

We all raised our hands. He raised his too.

“Now,” he said; “Keep your hands up if you ever did it yourself.”

We all took our hands down, including the plumber.

So this article is more “Do as I say” and less “Do as I do.”

Still it’s good advice.

Check the Anode Rod

Shut off the power at the circuit breaker and shut off the cold water supply valve.

Attach a garden hose to the drain cock, and open the drain to let out a few gallons of water.

Using a 1 1/16″ socket, remove the hex nut at the top of the tank. Sometimes it’s under a top plate.

Pull the rod out and look at it. If the rod is less than about a half inch thick, it’s time to get a new one. Be sure to put Teflon tape on the threads, then tighten. BTW, the rod is made of magnesium. You might find something fun to do with the old rod. Google it.

Flush the tank

Open the drain and let the rest of the water out. Turn the water on and off a few times until the water comes out clear.

Close the drain and open the fill valve. Then turn the water back on.

After about 12 hours, check the water temperature. The target temperature is between 120 and 125 degrees. To learn more about adjusting water temperature, click: Adjusting water temperature.