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Water Heater Maintenance: Preventing Corrosion and Leaks

Did you know that water heaters need regular maintenance and care in order to work safely and efficiently? While most units will last anywhere from eight to twelve years, neglecting proper maintenance can result in serious issues and potentially full system failure. However, keeping up with regular maintenance and repair procedures can allow water heating units to last almost twice as long, working at full capacity.


Corrosive damage inside of water heaters is the number one reason that most systems break down. In order to minimize corrosion, it’s important to address other aspects of your plumbing system that directly affect the performance of the water heater.

For example, the water softener is responsible for supplying soft water throughout the entire home plumbing system. If, for some reason, the softener stops functioning correctly, your water heater can be overwhelmed by gallons of hard water that leaves behind streaks, calcium buildup, and other gunk. This buildup will eventually cause corrosion and leaking, forcing you to invest in a replacement water heater or face an expensive repair job.

Inside of the water heater, a component called the anode rod is designed to help minimize the corrosiveness of water. It works by “attracting” corrosive particles in water, similar to how a magnet attracts metal. Replacing the anode rod is a crucial part of ongoing water heater maintenance every two to three years. To switch out an anode rod correctly, make sure to consult the proper documentation, such as the manufacturer's guide, and follow the instructions closely to avoid injury or water heater damage

Water Heater Flushing

One of the best ways to keep your water heating system clean and functioning properly is to flush the system. A water heater should be flushed every two to three years (ideally, you can change the anode rod at the same time). In order to flush your water heater, use the following steps:

  1. Attach a hose to the drainage valve on the bottom of the water heater and run it to a nearby sink or floor drain.
  2. Turn on the drainage valve and allow all of the hot water to drain.
  3. Let the cold water continue to run and drain, flushing out all of the impurities.

Just like changing the anode rod, be sure to consult your water heater manufacturer’s guide before beginning to flush your water heater or conducting any maintenance. Remember, hot water poses a risk for injury. If you aren’t confident that you can safely maintain your water heater on your own, call the expert plumbers at Roto-Rooter. We’re always nearby to help you out with basic plumbing maintenance as well as emergency situations.

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