Home Maintenance | February 21, 2017
Have you ever considered what it would be like without instant access to hot water? Hot water makes things like bathing more comfortable, dishwashing and laundry more effective, and might even help heat your house. Much like electricity, access to hot water is something that has made our lives so much easier that it’s nearly impossible to consider everyday life without it. Can you imagine boiling water on the stove anytime you need to bathe or wash the dishes?
Our dependence on immediate hot water makes it much more than a nice luxury — it’s a necessity! In fact, when a client’s water heater fails, it is usually considered an urgent repair. Depending on the situation, emergency hot water tank or water heater system repair may require an after-hours service call, which also means overtime rates, unfortunately.
What’s the best way to avoid expensive emergency water heater repairs?
While there’s no guaranteed way to avoid unexpected issues, your best bet for optimal, problem-free access to hot water is regular maintenance. Not sure where to start when it comes to water heater maintenance? Here are some expert tips to ensure you’re in hot water exactly when you want to be.
Don’t ignore the signs – prompt attention to water heater issues is key
The most obvious sign that there is a problem with your water heater is a lack of hot water, but what else should you look for? Puddles of water on the floor around your hot water tank usually means there is a leak somewhere that needs attention. Another thing to monitor is your hot water tank’s recovery time. On those occasions you do run out of hot water, how long does it take to reheat the water in the tank? Excessively long recovery time may mean your water heater needs service or replacement.
So just how regular is regular maintenance?
Like any good plan, when it comes to maintaining your hot water system, knowing what to do and when is the most important part. In this case, it depends on the type of system you have.
- Hot water tank: Annual maintenance typically involves cleaning the pilot assembly and the flame sensor or thermocouple. On a biannual basis, be sure to change both the drain valve and pressure relief valve, and complete a flush.
- Tankless hot water heater: Complete a back-flush and replace the flow sensor annually. To ensure high efficiency of your tankless unit, descale it biannually.
Water heater maintenance: DIY vs. professional help
A good rule of thumb is if it has anything to do with the gas line, leave it to an expert. When it comes to dealing with natural gas, you really are better safe than sorry.
For the hands-on homeowner, the biannual system flush is a relatively simple DIY project. Refer to original product guides for tips specific to your make and model.
What happens at a First Call water heater maintenance visit?
Our expert technicians will provide a thorough hot water system check that includes the following:
- Pilot and burner condition check
- Examination and cleaning of the intake screen
- Testing the thermocouple
- Igniter condition check
- Venting check
Tips for maximizing water heater efficiency
Regular maintenance will certainly help ensure your hot water heater is running effectively. But when it comes to efficiency, particularly for hot water tanks, improvements are largely based on consumption habits. For example, some models have a vacation setting you can use when you’re away or you can simply turn down the maximum temperature setting for everyday use.
As your hot water tank reaches the end of its lifespan – approximately 12-15 years – you may want to consider replacing it with a more efficient system, such as a tankless water heater. Another important thing to check is whether or not your insurance policy has an age restriction for your hot water tank. Some policies may have coverage exclusions should your home flood as a result of an older hot water tank.