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What’s the best way to inspect my water heater?

Inspection is vital to water heater maintenance and a relatively quick and easy process, as long as you know what to look for.

Gas water heaters require more maintenance than electric units. If you have a gas heater, first you should check the unit and the pipes for any rusted or blackened areas. These could be caused by leaks or improper combustion.

Unless you’re an expert, these aren’t problems you can solve yourself, so you should call for assistance if you find any corrosion or evidence of combustion troubles during your water heater inspection. Do the same for all piping connected to the heater. Check thoroughly for signs of corrosion; a few minutes now are all it takes to prevent a dangerous malfunction.

If you have a gas-powered water heater, you should check for leaks with a gas leak detector. You can buy one of these at a hardware store or order one online. They’re fairly inexpensive and worth the investment in the long run. Furthermore, make sure to check the gas valve by turning it slightly, but not too much, as this will turn off the pilot light. Make sure that the draft hood is centered and not crooked or loose. You should also check the burner, pilot light and flame color every six months or so if you have a gas water heater.

Whether or not you have a gas or electric heater, every so often you should make sure your heater’s thermostat is working. You can make sure the hot and cold water pipes are working: just touching the pipes should be sufficient. Check and test the temperature/pressure relief valve once a year for leaks or signs that it has discharged water.

Finally, make sure you check the anode rod every two years, replacing when necessary. For the most thorough inspection, you can also drain a gallon of water from your tank every month to remove silt and sediment.

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