Your water heater is one of the most important parts of your home. It is the power behind hot showers, fresh laundry and clean dishes, so there would be some big issues if it were ever to break down. The average water heater lifespan is about 11 years, but without proper maintenance it might not make it that long. Here's what you can do to keep it ticking for at least 11 years:
Pay close attention to the thermostat on your water heater. Some manufacturers set the temperature to 140 degrees Fahrenheit by default, which is hotter than most households really need. Elevated temperatures can cause scalding, as well as accelerated mineral buildup and corrosion in the pipes. A recommended setting for water heater maintenance is 120 F, which prevents tank damage and helps you save big on losses of standby and demand heat.
A few times each year, it is a good idea to flush out about one-quarter of the tank in your water heater. You can do this easily by turning off the cold water supply, hooking up a garden hose to the drain valve and then running the water until it looks clear. Draining will help clear away sediment and preserve the heating efficiency of the water heater.
A working pressure relief valve should release a burst of hot water into the drainpipe after you raise and then lower the test lever. Do this regularly to check the pressure and to clear out debris. If the valve is not letting out a big burst each time, call a professional plumber to get a new one installed.
Water heaters are complex contraptions that require regular attention and maintenance. If you run into a problem you can't solve yourself, be sure to call a professional plumbing services company to take care of it.