Your water heater is one of those home appliances you probably don’t think much about—until you step into a cold shower on a chilly morning. Understanding how to maintain this essential piece of equipment can save you from unexpected breakdowns and even help you save on your energy bills. Read on to understand the frequency and types of maintenance required for different kinds of water heaters.
Types of Water Heaters and Their Maintenance Needs
Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters, also known as on-demand water heaters, have gained prominence for their high efficiency and compact size. These units only heat water as it’s needed, so they don’t store hot water, which saves on energy costs. However, their highly efficient operation can be compromised if they’re not well-maintained. One common issue is the build-up of mineral deposits, which can affect the heating element and decrease efficiency. Electrical connections must also be checked for any signs of loosening or corrosion. The recommended maintenance frequency for tankless water heaters is once a year to ensure their continued optimal operation.
Traditional Tank Water Heaters
Traditional tank water heaters are the most commonly found in homes. These units store water in an insulated tank and heat it to a preset temperature. Over time, sediment and minerals can accumulate at the bottom of the tank, potentially corroding it and reducing the unit’s efficiency. Periodic flushing of the tank is essential to remove these deposits. Additional checks should include an inspection for rust and corrosion in both the tank and its associated pipes and valves. Maintenance for traditional water tank heaters should ideally be performed twice a year.
Heat Pump Water Heaters
Unlike traditional water heaters that use a heating element or a gas burner to heat water, heat pump water heaters use electricity to move heat from the surrounding air into the water in the tank. This process is much more energy-efficient, as it leverages existing heat rather than creating it from scratch. However, because these water heaters rely on a heat exchange process, the air filters within these units can become clogged. This can force the system to work harder, reducing its overall efficiency. Regular checks should also be made for refrigerant leaks, which can compromise the unit’s performance. We recommend having your heat pump water heater inspected at least once a year.
Common Signs That Your Water Heater Needs Immediate Maintenance
Inconsistent Water Temperature
If you’re experiencing abrupt changes from hot to cold water or vice versa, the likely culprits are usually the thermostat or heating element. An aging thermostat may lose its calibration and fail to regulate the temperature effectively. Alternatively, a malfunctioning heating element could result in incomplete heating of the water in the tank. These inconsistencies can make showers and household chores an uncomfortable experience and signal that immediate maintenance is necessary.
If your water heater starts making cracking or popping noises, it’s generally an indicator of mineral and sediment build-up at the bottom of the tank. When water trapped under these layers heats up, it produces steam that rises through the sediment, causing these strange sounds. The noises aren’t just a minor annoyance; they signify that your water heater is working harder than it should. The sediment itself can also corrode the tank over time.
Discovering rusty water coming from your taps is a significant red flag. Typically, this issue is caused by the internal corrosion of either the water tank or the pipes leading to and from it. If it’s the tank, that’s a serious problem because corrosion can weaken the tank’s structural integrity and lead to leaks or even bursting. In some cases, the discoloration may be a result of sediment mixing with the water. Regardless of the reason, discolored water is a sign that your system needs immediate attention.
You should be concerned if you see water pooling around the base of your water heater. A leak could be caused by various factors, from a loose valve to a crack in the tank. Leaks can lead to substantial water damage and even present a risk of electrical short circuits. Immediate professional intervention is required to diagnose the cause of the leak and to initiate necessary repairs or replacements, ensuring both the efficiency and safety of your appliance.
Contact HVAC Professionals Today!
If you’re in Las Vegas, NV, or the surrounding areas and in need of water heater maintenance, contact Loyalty Plumbing for professional assistance. We also offer comprehensive services, including plumbing installation and maintenance, drain repair, hydrojetting, video camera inspections, leak detection, water treatment, toilet and faucet repair, and gas line services. Give Loyalty Plumbing a call today for all your water heater, drain, and plumbing needs.