Hot Water Heater Maintenance Strategies for Albuquerque Home Owners – Part One

New hot water heater located in a clean and empty garage. Newly installed.

The water heater in your Albuquerque home is a device you count on, but don’t think about much until it breaks, leaks or starts giving you trouble. If your hot water heater stops producing hot water, the next step you’ll take is to order a new one at the local big box home improvement retailer or call a local plumber to set an appointment to replace it. You probably don’t’ know it, but the call to the local plumbing company or the new hot water heater purchase would not have been necessary if you have done regularly scheduled maintenance on the device.

Maintaining your water heater on a scheduled basis is not done by most homeowner because the device is normally worry free. It doesn’t appear to need maintenance, but it does require it.  Water heaters are susceptible to of natures great water warriors, rust and sediment.

Water heaters normally feature a glass lining inside a steel tank, which is there to keep the tank from rusting. The glass lining works, but overtime it starts to wear out from changes in temperatures, creating small openings in the lining itself. These small openings in the glass lining allows water to flow through to the steel tank, which will start rusting.

Calcium carbonate forms when water is heated. It is a mineral that is a form of limestone. It ends up at the bottom of your hot water heater as it is forming. In tanks with natural or propane hot water heaters, it builds up in amounts over time that lower the unit’s ability to heat the water efficiently. It creates a hard crust around the heating element in electric hot water heaters, ruining it so it does not work any longer.

Performing maintenance on your hot water heater on a scheduled basis each year will keep it running well and make it last for several years. Listed below here are the maintenance steps to complete each year to make that happen:

Step 1 – Drain and Clean Hot Water Heater Tank

Drain the hot water tank a minimum of 2 times a year. Doing this will eliminate the build up of sediment sitting on the floor of the tank. Draining the tank involves completing the steps below:

  1. Turn off the water heater’s gas or electricity
  2. Screw on a garden hose to the tanks’ drain valve
  3. At the top of the tank, turn off the cold-water valve located there
  4. Break the vacuum of the tank by opening its press relief valve
  5. Drain the tank by turning its drain valve to the open position
  6. When the job is complete, follow the steps listed here in reverse. After the tank is completed filled, turn on the electricity of gas

For a tank installed in low areas or the basement of a home, making it impossible to use gravity to drain the tank, buy or rent an electric water pump and use it to pump out the water in the tank to a drain outside or one located in the upstairs part of the home.

Step 2 – Change out the Hot Water Heater’s Anode Rod

Changing out the hot water heater anode rod step is not needed or done very often. The anode rod is set up inside the tank in the center. It attracts charged water molecules and keeps them from going after the steel component part of the tank itself. After your drain your tank, inspect the rods to see if it is still visible. Anode rods have a functional life of 10 years normally. Clean it when you’re draining the tank to extend the life of the part. Complete the steps below to replace the part:

  1. Turn off the cold-water valve on the top of the hot water tank
  2. On the top of the hot water tank, unscrew the nut that holds the anode rod in place in the tank.
  3. Connect the new rod, place it in the tank and then tighten the nut back down
  4. Turn on the cold-water valve when step 3 is completed.

Step 4 – Replace an Electric Heating Element

Electric water heaters are quiet efficient water heaters. However, the heating element in an electric hot water heater are prone to becoming corroded over several years of use with calcium carbonate. The heating element in an electric hot water heater is located on the side of the tank. It is screwed directly onto the side of the water heater tank. An electric heater element is made up of two rods set up horizontally with one element rod above the second rod. The heating element rod is powered by an electrical set of wires. The unit is simple to remove and replace with a new one. Featured below are the steps to follow to uninstall the old unit and install the new one.

  1. Turn off the hot water tank electrical connection
  2. Confirm the electricity is turned off using an electrical tester device
  3. Turn off the cold-water supply valve
  4. On the top of the tank there is a pressure relief valve. Open it to relieve the pressure and the built-in vacuum that is present from the system being on.
  5. Remove all the water from the tank by screwing on a drain hose to the valve at the bottom tank.
  6. Unscrew the cover plate at the lower part of the tank so you can see the tank’s hot water heating element.
  7. Remove heating elements’ the electrical and ground wires.
  8. Take the heating element out by unscrewing the screws holding the heating element inside the hot water tank.
  9. Visit your local hardware store, big box home improvement store, or plumbing supply house, buy a new heating element and then replace the old worn out unit with the new one.
  10. Follow the steps listed here in reverse, starting with number one. Be sure the fill the tank up to full capacity, then turn the power back on so you can have hot water again!

Follow the Albuquerque homeowner water heater maintenance strategies described here to keep your water heater running right and safe for years to come. If you cannot complete some of the tasks described here, be sure call the Albuquerque plumbing professional at Day and Night Plumbing to do the job right.


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