Water Heaters

For safety reasons, keep the temperature dial setting at or below the suggested Factory Setting listed on the water heater or in the manual. Above that setting will greatly increase the potential for scalding. Any questions please call the manufacturer or your plumber.

All water heaters are required by law to be equipped with a temperature and pressure relief valve (t & p valve) as a safety feature to prevent damage from excessive pressure (>150 psi) or temperature (>210˚F). If the t & p valve is discharging water you should call your plumber immediately.

Flushing your water heater is something that should be done on a regular basis. The procedure is as follows:

  • Hook a garden hose up to the bottom drain valve. Place the garden hose in a position to allow full discharge of the water through the hose ( into a floor drain, bath tub or street) *NOTE: THIS WATER WILL BE HOT AND IS A SCALD HAZARD! THE TEMPERATURE MAY KILL PLANTS.
  • Open the drain valve wide open. DO NOT CLOSE OFF THE INCOMING COLD WATER SUPPLY TO THE HEATER.
  • Run the water out of the hose until the water runs clear (usually just a few seconds).
  • Once the water is clear, shut off the bottom drain valve and remove the garden hose.

How long should my water heater last?

The answer is not simple. While the average life expectancy of a water heater in our area is about 12 years (Yes, there are examples of water heaters lasting 20 and 30 years, but these are incredibly rare cases.), many things can affect the life of a water heater.

  • Water softeners are utilized to reduce hardness in water, they can shorten the life a water heater by consuming the anode rod rapidly (generally within one year). Once the anode rod is consumed there is no protection in the water heater to prevent the water from dissolving the seam joints. When a water softener is installed the water softener needs to be bypassed once a year to allow some lime to buildup to protect the heater and slow down the anode rod consumption
  • Water hammer can create short bursts of extremely high pressure, which can cause seams in the tank to crack and fail.
  • Thermal expansion can create very high pressures and usually manifest itself by premature failure of the water tank or leaking t & p relief valves.  Thermal expansion is generally only a problem on a closed plumbing system.
    • A closed plumbing system is  created when a device is placed in the piping that only allows the water to move in one direction. This is usually a backflow device or a “non-bypassing” pressure reducing valve (PRV).  Water expands as it is heated creating higher pressure and if there is no release of this pressure it can cause damage to the water heater and other fixtures (think washing machine hoses bursting while away on vacation).
  • Under sizing of a water heater causes it to be “on” more frequently than a correctly sized water heater.  This can cause parts to fail much sooner than expected.
  • Mineral deposits and buildup are corrosive and act as an insulator between the heats source (burner or elements) and the water causing the water heater to work harder to maintain the temperature.
  • Missing anode rod due to water quality or removal of anode rod (See water softeners, above).

If you have a question or concern about any of these issues, call your plumber.