Whenever it happens, a water heater never conks out at an opportune time. Most likely, you find that you don’t have any hot water when you’re taking a shower, or you go to the basement to do the laundry and you discover a pool of water. Then you have to call the plumber and get a new tank.

Fortunately, you’ll need a replacement later, rather than sooner, if you regularly take a few minutes to tend to your water heater. That few minutes can extend its life — and save you energy dollars.

Over the life of your water heater, sediment accumulates at the bottom of the tank. Too much buildup can keep the tank’s drainage system from working properly, cause your water to become discolored and even corrode the tank.

To properly maintain your unit, first test the pressure-release valve. It’s a brass fitting on the top of the tank. It’s designed to open automatically when the pressure in your tank rises. If the valve doesn’t release when you lift the lever, replace it.

Next, drain your water heater. If you have an electric water heater, turn the breaker off.

  • Connect a hose to the drain valve, and run it to a bathtub, utility sink or perhaps outside your home.
  • Slowly open the shutoff valve so that the water runs into the utility sink, bathtub or outside. The water will look rusty and sediment-filled.
  • Run the water until it’s clear — this should take five to 10 minutes — and then close the shutoff value and disconnect the hose.
  • Keep in mind that you won’t have hot water for a few hours.

This very easy maintenance can help to keep your water heater working efficiently for many years. For information about water heaters — whether you need a repair or replacement, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling & Plumbing. We serve homeowners in greater Cincinnati.

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