While hot water tank systems are designed to stand the test of time, a little bit of maintenance every now and then will help to get the longest life possible from the system. Unlike continuous flow systems, which heat up the water as you use it, hot water tanks store the heated water for later use. If this storage tank is not taken care of, you can run into several problems that could end up requiring professional plumbing services. Such problems include harmful sediments in the water, bursting pipes or even a complete breakdown of the system.
To avoid this, you need to know the basics of maintaining your tank. In this blog, we’re going to go over four things you can do to increase the lifespan of your hot water system.
- Conduct visual checks regularly
This is probably the easiest thing that you can do on this list. If you want your tank to last, you’re going to need to conduct a simple visual check every few months. You should look for obvious leaks, cracks or major signs of rust, wear and tear. If you see any of these, contact a plumber as soon as you can. Conducting repairs on your own could damage the system even further, which will likely cause more problems in the future.
When it comes to visual checks, there’s no need to go too in-depth. A short five-minute inspection should be enough to spot any obvious problems. To spot more complicated issues, however, you will need the assistance of a professional plumber.
- Get an annual inspection
Once every year, you should hire a professional plumber to inspect your hot water tank. Sometimes, certain problems can be difficult to spot during your regularly visual checks. You can easily overlook small leaks, seemingly harmless dents and unusual noises. Unfortunately, these subtle tells could be signs that something’s seriously wrong with your tank. An expert plumber, however, will be able to accurately diagnose these problems and conduct the proper repairs.
Additionally, if there’s a minor issue that could develop into something more serious, the plumber might be able to fix it on the spot. In the long run, this could save you a lot of money on repairs and replacements.
Hiring plumbing services is also much safer than inspecting the system yourself. Indeed, hot water tank systems typically involve gas, electricity and, of course, scalding hot water. If an untrained person were to tinker with the system, it can easily lead to irreversible damage or someone getting seriously hurt.
- Test the temperature and pressure relief valves
The temperature and pressure relief valve (or TPR) is an important safety feature of every hot water tank system. Its job is to vent hot water if the temperature or pressure in the tank ever gets too high. If the TPR valve malfunctions, the excessive pressure in the tank could lead to a serious explosion that could damage your home and injure the people in it.
Because of this, it’s essential that you test your TPR valve every six months or so. Fortunately, this is something that you can do on your own. Since you’re going to be dealing with extremely hot water, you should wear protective equipment before you test the valve. You should wear pants and shoes that don’t expose your skin as well as protective gloves. Next, you should check the area near the outlet pipe and get rid of any obstructions.
Once you’re ready, stand near the valve so that you can operate it, but stand as far away from the pipe as possible. Once it’s safe to do so, slowly open the valve and then close it once the hot water flows out.
If hot water doesn’t stop flowing after you’ve closed the valve, then the test is unsuccessful. Additionally, if the pipe is blocked or if you can’t open the valve in the first place, that means your TPR valve isn’t working properly. Leakage is also another indication that the valve needs to be replaced.
If your TPR valve needs replacing, you should contact a plumber as soon as possible.
- Replace the sacrificial anode
The sacrificial anode is a rod made of aluminium or magnesium with a coat of zinc. It’s installed inside the tank to remove any impurities in the water by attracting minerals to its surface. This causes the rod to degrade, effectively saving the water tank from rusting and breaking down. In short, the rod ‘sacrifices’ itself for the sake of the hot water system.
It is recommended that you replace your sacrificial anode every five years. Doing so will prevent potential oxidation problems in the future. Replacing the anode when necessary will keep your hot water tank in working condition for many years to come.
Unlike the TRP valve, the sacrificial anode isn’t something you should handle on your own. For your own safety, be sure that you hire a reliable plumber to replace the rod for you. Expert plumbers will also ensure that your system is following plumbing safety code and standards.
There you have it, four ways to maintain your hot water system. As you can tell from the examples above, maintaining and repairing water tanks can be extremely dangerous if you don’t have the proper training. Safely handling gas, electricity and scalding hot water requires a lot of discipline and skill. Because of this, be sure to leave the job to the professional for the sake of your own safety as well as the sake of your hot water tank system.