Today we are going to discuss your water heater. It sits there quietly in the basement and goes unnoticed, that is, until you go to get in the shower in the morning and there’s no hot water. “What do I do now”?
The first thing to check, if you have a gas water heater, is to see if the pilot light is lit. Most water heaters have a pilot light that is lit all of the time, and when the thermostat calls for more hot water, the burner lights up from the pilot. This does involve getting on your hands and knees, removing the cover plate at the bottom of the water heater to see if there is a small, blue flame. If there is no flame, it could just be a matter of re-lighting the pilot. They can sometimes go out for various reasons. The water heater should have instructions near the gas control valve that will have step by step instructions on how to light the heater. If it does not stay lit, it may be a faulty thermocouple, and unless you are comfortable working on appliances, you may want to call a plumber.
We’ll now talk about the “industry standard” life expectancy of a water heater. Depending on which source you find, a water heater is expected to last anywhere from 8-15 years. I do take issue with the standard life expectancies that are listed for different components of a home. To me, it’s like asking someone, “What’s the life expectancy of a car”? There are a lot of factors that go into the longevity of any component of a home, including the water heater. I can tell you that our current water heater is 27 years old, and in our last home, the water heater was 37 years old when we sold. I will also say that I am ready to replace the water heater at any time, but I won’t replace it as long as it is doing its’ job.
There are a few things that you can do to prolong the life of your water heater. I think that the most effective maintenance item that you can perform is flushing the tank at least once a year. This will help clear the sediment from the bottom of the tank, not only helping the longevity, but also making the water heater more efficient. You can find information online on how to flush your water heater.
Another maintenance item that you can do is to replace the anode rod. This can be done at the same time that you are flushing the tank, since you will be emptying the tank. It is recommended to replace the anode rod every 5 years. I will let you know that it can be a challenge to break the old anode rod free. The anode rod is a metal rod that is usually made of aluminum, zinc or magnesium. It is often referred to as a “sacrificial” rod. It degrades over time from electrolysis, instead of the steel tank degrading. Once the anode rod has completely degraded, the electrolysis will start attacking the tank itself. The tank is the one item of the water heater that can’t be replaced. If you have a tank leak, it is time to replace, and soon! A small leak will turn into a big leak, and there is no telling when this will happen, so it is recommended to replace water heater as soon as possible.
That’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed this blog and I also hope that you have a Merry Christmas! Feel free to comment below and hit the Facebook like button below!