3 Ways A Plumber Will Service Your Water Heater

Posted on: 29 December 2014

As a homeowner, it's your responsibility to maintain your appliances. However, some appliances, such as your water heater, just seem too complicated for you to maintain and repair on your own. For this reason, you've always hired a plumber to take care of your water heater. Instead of staying in the dark about your water heater's necessary maintenance (and having no idea what your plumber marks on your invoices), enlighten yourself. Here are the three most essential water heater repair tasks performed by your plumber:

Anode Rod Replacement

The average person uses anywhere between 20-35 gallons of hot water throughout the day to bathe, wash laundry, or prepare dinner. Over the course of each year, thousands of gallons of water will flow through your water tank.

However, your water supply isn't completely filtered—hard minerals such as calcium and magnesium are present in your tap water. When these minerals come into contact with your metal tank, they will cause corrosion. To prevent permanent damage to its lining, your water tank uses a sacrificial anode rod.

Your tank's anode rod is made of a noble metal that lures the corrosive minerals in your water supply towards itself. Once the minerals make contact with your anode rod, they'll corrode the rod—instead of the lining of your water tank. However, your anode rod will require replacement once it has been corroded down to its core.

Your anode rod's lifespan will be determined by the amount of hard minerals present in your tap water. If your tap water is fairly soft (which is likely the case if you have a water softener), then your anode rod can last several years. However, if your tap water contains a high volume of corrosive minerals, then your anode rod may only last about a year.

Your plumber will remove your anode rod from your water heater and determine how much longer it's likely to last. If your anode rod won't last much longer, or if it's covered in calcium bicarbonate (a white substance that prevents mineral contact), then your plumber will replace it.

Tank Draining

Although the hard minerals in your tap water are neutralized by your anode rod, they won't be removed from your water tank. When enough debris collects at the bottom of your tank, it can reduce the water capacity of your tank. Additionally, if you have an electric water heater, the debris buildup at the bottom of your tank can encase your lower heating element and cause it to fail.

Your tank should be drained annually to prevent inefficient operation or premature element damage.

When your plumber drains your tank, they'll connect a garden hose to the drain spout at the base of your tank and lead the hose away from your home. Prior to releasing the drain valve, your plumber will shut off your water supply and open your tank's pressure relief valve. By performing these tasks, your plumber will prevent the interior of your water tank from turning into a vacuum while water and mineral buildup drain from the bottom of your tank.

Heating Inspection

Regardless of whether you have a gas or electric water heater, your plumber will inspect your heating components to ensure that they're operating efficiently—and safely. For gas water heaters, an inspection consists of opening the combustion chamber beneath your tank and inspecting the pilot flame, thermocouple, burner tubes, and gas lines for corrosion or unspent fuel buildup. If the burner assembly is corroded or dirty, then they will be cleaned, or, if necessary, replaced.

For electric water heaters, a heating inspection consists of an electrical and visual inspection of the heating elements located inside your tank. If they appear to be free of corrosion damage, and they're operating at the proper voltage, then they're in good condition. However, if they are corroded or operated at an abnormal voltage, then they'll require replacement.

Now that you understand the importance of each of these maintenance tasks, you can better maintain your water heater by having your plumber perform annual maintenance. However, if your unsure of how often your water heater requires maintenance, then you can click here for more info about the process and set up a maintenance schedule with your plumber.