Maintenance Tips for Water Heaters
Maintenance Tip #1 – water heater installation apex. Turn off the power if it is an electric water heater. Turn off the water to the water heater by closing the valve on the cold water line. This is located at the top of the water heater. The cold line is always on the right side. Open the hot water faucet inside the house. Air pressure will come out of the faucet. Open the drain valve located at the bottom of the water heater. This looks like a hose bib. Let out a gallon or more from the water heater. Do not let anyone use the hot water while you are working on the water heater.
Maintenance Tip #2 - Overhead clearance. The anode rods are almost as high as the water heater itself. More often than not the ceiling is too close to the top of the water heater to be able to pull the entire anode rod up. Without meaning to, lift the anode rod up as far as you can. Check to see if there is any flaking on the surface or if any of its core wire is exposed. If not, then you can reinstall the anode as is. Most anode rod problems occur at the top of the anode rod because that is where the most hot water is. If you need to remove the anode rod . Bend it inside against the water heater opening and pull it out. To insert a new one, simply bend it again in the center and straighten it against the opening. If the top of the anode wobbles when you try to screw it in, pull it halfway out again and try to straighten it as much as possible. If your overhead clearance is less than 2 feet, buy a link type anode rod. It has "sausage" links of metal attached together. It is very easy to install.
Maintenance Tip #3 - Anode selection and replacement. There are three types of metals used to make anode rods. They are magnesium, aluminum and zinc. If you have naturally soft water, you should install a magnesium anode. Aluminum is used when you have very hard water or water that is softened heavily with salt. It is recommended that you install an aluminum anode after you discover that your previous anode has been significantly damaged. If you install a magnesium anode after finding a severely damaged anode, it can cause a negative reaction in the water and cause pressure to be released from your home faucets. If you must install an aluminum anode rod, avoid using hot water to cook with.
Modern science believes that aluminum in water can cause Alzheimer's disease. Do not consume hot water. Zinc anodes are rare to find already installed in a water heater. Zinc anodes are used to counteract the effects of sulfur odors in water. Zinc anodes are made up of only 10% actual zinc. The rest is aluminum. Do not eat or cook with a zinc anode any more than with an aluminum one. If the rod bends easily in your hands, it is aluminum, if not, it is magnesium. Anodes have a protective current of about two feet. Buy anode rods that are too tall for your water heater. Cut them down if you have to. Try to buy anodes that are more than 3 feet and 8 inches.
Maintenance Tip #4 - Add a second anode rod. If your water heater has an exposed hexagonal head on top, you can install a second anode rod for more protection for your water heater. Provided the hex head exists, unscrew the hot water outlet. This is the pipe at the top of the water heater on the left side. This is where you can install the combination anode rod. Make sure the anode rod has a brass nipple that is 2 to 6 inches long. Hire a plumber to do this or look for information in my article on anode rods. Warning: Adding a second anode can be quite a difficult task.
Maintenance Tip #5 - Remove sediment. There are three signs of sediment buildup in the tank: A lower burnout element if you have an electric water heater, a lot of noise if you have a gas water heater, or an unpleasant odor coming from both types of water heaters. If the sediment piles up high enough, the lower heating element in the electric water heater will be covered and unable to heat the water. If your hot water suddenly starts running out long before it has been used and you have an electric water heater, then it is likely sediment build-up. Gas water heaters get covered by sediment down at the bottom where the flame heats the burner plate. The water gets covered in sediment and becomes superheated steam. This expansive steam releases pressure which sounds like a loud row going on inside. If you smell sulfur coming from your water heater, it's because of the buildup of sediment that breeds the foul smelling bacteria inside it. To get rid of these problems, install a curved dip tube. You can also have a plumber use a special expensive muck-vac tool. Dissolving sediment is another option. More info