How To Maintain Your Hot Water Heater

by Lloyd Gomez

Gas or electric, the technology of keeping you safe and warm with your hot water heater continues to improve and becomes more efficient every year. One of the best ways to prevent fires and to save money is to maintain your hot water heater the way a qualified technician should:

  • Check gas level
  • Check pressure relief valves
  • Check coolant
  • Look for corrosion around the relief valve
  • Make sure the gas pilot wire remains oxidized
  • Check for corrosion around the power cord
Hot Water Heater

Disconnect the power supply to your hot water heater before inspecting the gas line.

Check the pressure in the relief valve (out of sight). The tub that comes with your heater may have a reset button you can push. If not, you may need to turn the lever counterclockwise to release pressure. If you are removing the vent pipe, be sure that the hole isn’t so big that it sticks out each side of the tank and hurts your hand when you try to hold it in the air.

Inspect the power cord of the heater for any damage. The relief valve and gas piping may have been damaged. You may also notice the wire or plastic jacket that connects it to the heater can have been damaged or deteriorated. If not, keep it handy so it is within easy reach for checking purposes.

Check to be sure the thermostat is set to a temperature between 115 and 120 degrees. This is the Safe Gas nutrient temperature, and is recommended for safety reasons.

Some gas heaters are fitted with an emergency release valve. This alone can save you from major damage caused by a gas explosion. But a tank that has one can still leak. Check that you understand the flush valve, which is either an electronic device or an air valve. The air release valve releases pressure by blowing air through a piping system of the heater. But it only works when the thermostat isn’t counting the temperature in the heater.

If you have a forced air heater, check the supply system. Inside the furnace supply ductwork, look for flaps. These are the small air openings, located all around the furnace, present in the event of emergency. If your furnace provides you with a supply duct outside your house, a vent pipe must be used to vent out the loud, smelly and dangerous gas fumes that arise.

Once your tank is empty, check your temperature setting. The thermostat could be set too high or to low. If your setting is low, the system won’t be able to heat all your water. Check your temperature setting every few hours and a couple of hours after the demand load has been reduced.

Familiarize yourself with the owner’s manual. When your heater was new, the manual provided a more detailed diagram of how its workings. Some thermostats only need changing when the pilot light goes out or if the temperature falls too low. This is a safety precaution. Other thermostats, called changers have manuals available to tell your temperature-setting chart from the thermostat itself. Both are necessary and not optional.

Reset the pilot light if it goes out after a few hours. This safety measure may, of course, disperse gas fumes more effectively, but it also can prevent an electric butt rod’s end from igniting. The gas wouldn’t stay on long when the flame isn’t there, but there is a small chance that you may forget you have a pilot inside a closed metal cylinder.

If your hot water heater is vented, but you have a recirculating pipe or a power cord outlet near your gas heater, be very careful around it. Switches or power cords can sometimes become loose, resulting in anThankingSTOPabout your gas appliance. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, moving it is never a good idea.

If you don’t know anyone with gas experience, getting an expert to check your pipes, control valves or elements is always advised.

There are those who, faced with having to replace a forced air heater unfortunately, by this point will be discouraged. Don’t make the same mistake. Gas professionals, or even local hardware thieves, are only a phone call away. In an emergency, you can always fall back on the professionals who are trained to fix systems that malfunction.

  • Forgetting your thermostat’s programming or leaving your temperature set too low or high, especially during cold times, etc.
  • Replace the thermostat with a newer one.
  • It is always wise to have a professional service a gas appliance, every three to five years.