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Water Heater – Maintenance Guide | Repair and Replace

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Hi, I’m Vance and welcome to Repair and Replace. If you want to extend the life of your water heater then regular maintenance should be done once a year. This will also give you a sense of any future problems before they arise. In this episode we’ll go over how to properly maintain your standing pilot water heater. First we’ll look for leaks and then we’ll check the airflow. Next we’ll test the pressure and temperature relief valve, then check the anode rod to see how corroded it is.

Finally we’ll drain and flush the tank to remove the sediment. Let’s begin. Before you get started, you’ll need a garden hose, a bucket, a 1 & 1/16th inch socket, a half inch drive socket wrench, a breaker bar, a screwdriver, needle nose pliers, a wire brush, teflon tape, and a multi-use cleaning brush. First turn the gas supply off, or perpendicular to the pipe. Now set the water heater to the pilot setting, and turn the gas control off. Next shut off the cold supply. Keep in mind that the water inside the tank is still hot, so use caution when draining or accessing the tank.

To start, it’s best to do a walk around to check for any leaks. Check the inlet and outlet pipes leading into the tank. Next check the pressure and temperature relief valve, looking for any water weeping around the threads or around the valve body. Now look at the drain valve. If you see any water leaking it’s best to replace that part. You can see how to replace the pressure and temperature relief valve as well as the drain valve in the videos linked below. If you have a standing pilot water heater, it’s important to check that there is good airflow. On the bottom of the tank, air is brought in through a flame arrestor screen, which can get clogged with dust or debris. This can create backdrafting, which can cause the pilot to blow out. Anything can be used to clean the screen, but this is easily done with a multi-use brush, such as one used to clean the bottom of refrigerators. Now check the flue vent, and clean out any dust around it.

The temperature and pressure relief valve is by far the most important safety device in water heaters. If the pressure or temperature inside the tank gets too high, the valve will open and release water, preventing the tank from exploding. It’s important to test the valve to be sure that the valve can open when needed. Place a bucket below the drain tube and lift the lever to drain several gallons of water. Now close the valve. The water should stop flowing completely. Now if the relief valve doesn’t close, and you still have a little bit of water flowing, then you’ll have to replace the valve. And you can see how to do this in the video linked below. First, open a hot water faucet in the house. This will let in air and relieve pressure in the system.

Place a bucket underneath the drain valve. Open the valve to drain several gallons of water, this will reduce the pressure in the tank. Ideally you want to leave most of the water in the tank as the weight will keep the tank from sliding around. The anode rod is sometimes under a plastic cover, this will usually just pop off. If you haven’t checked it in years, it might be stuck in place, and will be difficult to remove. To prevent the tank from shifting, you can use a piece of wood to stabilize the tank. Alternatively, you can get another person to help support it. To get it started, you’ll need to increase the torque. One way is to use a breaker bar. Additionally you can use a copper pipe as an extension or snipe. Once the nut is starting to spin, then you should be able to use a regular socket wrench to unscrew it.

Now use the needle nose pliers remove the anode rod. Each year that you check the anode, take note of what has changed. Most anodes will last 4-6 years, but this depends on the pH and purity of the water. If you can see the bare steel core or if the rod is completely encased with calcium, then the anode will have to be replaced. To get a good seal, its best to clean out the threads with a wire brush. Next apply the teflon tape. This will help seal the threads and make it easier to remove and check the rod. Looking at the threads, tape is always applied in clockwise direction, so that the tape stays on when tightened. Wrap 3-6 times, keeping it tight the whole way through. Leave the last part of the thread bare, to prevent any tape from breaking off into the tank. Now screw the nut into place until it is hand tight. Finally use the socket to tighten it into place. To do a deep flush of your tank, you’ll have to drain all the water.

First, connect the garden hose to the drain valve. Open the valve to drain the water. This process can be slow and might take 30 minutes or more to drain. Now that the tank is empty you can do a flush to remove some of the built up sediment. Turn on the cold supply for 20 seconds to blast water into the bottom of the tank. This will agitate and lift the sediment. Now drain the water. You can repeat this 4 or 5 times as needed until the water draining out of the hose is running clear. Now open the cold water supply to fill the tank. Check the faucet, you should hear the air being pushed out of the system. Close the faucet once you get a smooth stream of water. This will tell you that the tank is full, and the air has been removed.

If you have an electric water heater, turn on the power at the breaker. For gas water heaters, turn on the gas, and relight the pilot. To see how to relight the pilot, watch the video linked below. Now that you know how to properly maintain your water heater, it will be easy to keep it running smoothly. For more troubleshooting on water heaters, furnaces and appliances, then subscribe to our channel.

And if you need help, you can call or visit an AMRE location to talk with our knowledgeable staff. Thanks for watching..