MUD 18 Newsletter

April – June 2022

Tips to Prevent a Leaking Water Heater Disaster

Fortunately, most water heater problems can be avoided with proper maintenance. If you follow these steps once or twice a year your water heater should last a long time, work efficiently, and avoid a leaking disaster.

1. Check Temperature & Pressure Relief Valve

Test the temperature and pressure relief valve (T&P valve) once a year to make sure it’s working properly. Use caution: The water in the tank is hot and can cause scalding burns. When you pull up or push down on the valve handle, hot water should come out of the overflow pipe. If it does not, it may need replacing. You can do this yourself but a better option is to call a professional plumber.

2. Drain Water

Periodically, about every 12-16 months, drain a bucket of water from the drain faucet at the bottom of the water tank to remove sediment. The sediment can corrode the unit and reduce heating efficiency.

You can drain your tank by attaching a garden hose to your drain valve, which can be found at the bottom of your water heater’s tank. Open your hot water tap closest to your water heater but a floor above (if possible). Then open the drain valve (use a bucket). Again, take care not to get burned by the hot water.

3. Check Water Lines

Check all of the water lines, fittings and valves connected to your water heater. Look for signs of leaking water. Using a flashlight, check under the tank for small leaks that could be caused by rust or corrosion.

4. Use a Drain Pan

Use a specially designed drain pan (also called a drip pan) under the water heater. They come in all sizes and are circular or square. You can find a decent drain pan for $15-30 at your local hardware or building supply store. Make sure it has a drain at the bottom, and periodically check to make sure it is not clogged.

5. Check the Sacrificial Anode

Water is known for causing rust, corrosion and general harm to metals. So have you ever wondered what prevents water from damaging the metal of your water heater tank? This protection is often provided by a sacrificial anode rod installed in your unit.

What Is a Sacrificial Anode Rod?

As the name suggests, a sacrificial anode rod is a long metal rod that hangs down from the top, inside the water heater. It “sacrifices” itself by attracting the corrosion and mineral buildup that otherwise would decay the hot water tank. As the water eats away at your sacrificial anode rod, it leaves the metal of your water heater tank untouched. Check this rod every couple of years. When heavily corroded (as in the bottom rod in the picture), replace it.

What causes some sacrificial rods to corrode faster than others? Water quality is the primary source of this difference. Hard water will lead to enhanced mineral buildup. On the other hand, water softened by the use of a sodium water softener will corrode the anode rod even faster due to the trace amounts of sodium in the water. If you have a softener you might consider replacing the anode rod every 2-3 years to prevent premature tank failure.

There is another type of anode rod that is available and that is a powered anode rod. Whenever your water heater tank is subjected to corrosive conditions, the magnetic anode rod releases electrons to the interior part of the water heater tank to protect it from corrosion. The powered anode rod combines well with the electrical current to offer an added protection from corrosion and rust. Besides, it increases the lifespan of the water heater tank. Some powered anode rods come with a twenty year warranty and are made of titanium. You will still have to do some maintenance but not as much. Remember they do have to plugged in to a power outlet.

Tankless Water Heater Maintenance

Tankless hot water heaters provide energy efficiency and hot water on demand. They are compact in size, and quickly becoming a popular choice for both residences and businesses. Like anything else, however, proper maintenance is required. An annual checkup is recommended ensure the components are working properly.

Tankless Water Heater Maintenance Procedure

  • Flush and descale of the heat exchanger
  • Clean fan and burner assembly
  • Clean the air inlet thermistor and filter
  • Inspect and clean the igniter and flame sensor
  • Clean the entering water filter
  • Carefully inspect the vent for proper slope and check for any blockages
  • Check gas pressure
  • Test fire unit
  • Check flow rate
  • Check operating temperature

You can perform this maintenance yourself or have a professional do it for you. The largest expense for a DYI project would be the submersible pump and the clothes washer hoses for the vinegar flushing of the tank.

Your MUD Board:
Susan McFarland, President
Lou Tichacek, Vice President
Gary Montgomery, Treasurer
Rex Cambern, Secretary
John Crystal, Assistant Secretary