How to extend the life of your water heater

How to extend the life of your water heater

In the excitement, or drama, of buying a new home, it’s easy to overlook details. Often in a home inspection, only a cursory glance might be given to the plumbing. After all, if it turns on and runs properly, there isn’t much else you can derive about the system as a whole, and especially the condition of the water heater. 

Knowing the status of the water heater before you buy your home can potentially save you some serious repair bills down the road, and if you’ve taken great care of your water heater as a seller, that’s a big selling point. How can you best prolong the life of this major appliance? There are some simple things you can do to keep things hot in your house.

The most simple thing you can do to help keep things running smoothly is to simply flush the tank on a yearly basis. One of the biggest culprits of water heater failure are mineral deposits that form on the bottom of your tank. This obviously displaces water in the tank resulting in less hot water for your home. Simply flushing the tank can help to keep those deposits from forming over time. Dixie Bishop is a plumber in San Antonio who suggests having a ball valve installed on your water heater rather than the typical plastic valve. “This will facilitate a true flush of the system, not just draining,” Bishop says.

Another common problem you might be facing is expansion. As water heats up, it expands in the tank, and as water is not easily compressed, this can be a big problem. If you have a closed system, this expansion can put added strain on your tank as it rapidly expands and contracts. Adding an expansion tank can help to alleviate this strain and keep things working properly for longer.

Along those same lines, high water pressure puts the same problems as expansion in the tank. Having water pressure that's too high for your tank could be causing some problems for durability as the workings of the water heater could be being put under undue strain and shorten the life of your tank.

It’s also possible that the water heater has seen better days and it’s time to replace things, but how do you know when the time is right to replace? One of the biggest signs that you’ve got a problem is corrosion. Corrosion around the water heater is a clear indication of age, and, unfortunately, age is the biggest problem for water heaters and plumbing. Joel Siebert is an Indianapolis plumber who warns of buying older homes that, “Anything older than 1970 gets a little crazy.”

Seeing a lot of corrosion is a clear sign that you’ll need to call a professional in to have a more thorough evaluation of how much time you have left.

So before buying a new home, or in preparation of inquisitive potential buyers examining your system, make sure the water heater is running properly and if needed find a replactement.

For more information on plumbing concerns when looking at a new home, check out this Plumbing Checklist for Homebuyers infographic.

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Subject: Hot water in mastertub

We have a mastertub up stairs with a single facet. Turn it to the right and you get cold water, turn to left and no hot water comes out at all. The home is 8 years old. I haven't used that tub in over 6 years. So I was a bit surprised by the problem.

Any suggestions on what the problem/cause may be?

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