7 Water Heater Maintenance Tips for Homeowners

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how to maintain a water heater

Your water heater is a workhorse. It’s often overlooked, but it is a necessity in your home. Do you want a nice, hot shower? How about hot water to wash dishes or clothes? None of that is possible without a water heater. 

Like any appliance, a water heater needs regular maintenance and some TLC to function properly and last a long time. While many things can affect the water heater’s lifespan, you can expect a well-maintained one to last between 8 and 12 years

So, what can you do to keep it running at peak efficiency for that entire period of time? Here are seven tips for maintaining your water heater’s function and energy efficiency. 

1. Test the TPR Valve

Test water heater tpr valve

The temperature/pressure release (or TPR valve) is a safety device installed on water heaters to release water if the temperature or pressure gets too high. In short, it keeps your water heater from exploding. If the water is heated too high, it will boil, vaporize, and expand so that your water heater can explode in your house. 

Modern water heaters are designed with safety features, so this won’t happen and will withstand years of normal household use. That’s where the TRP valve comes in. This valve is located on the top or side of the water heater. It’s important to regularly test the TPR valve to make sure it’s working properly. 

You can do this by lifting the lever on the valve and letting it go. If the water keeps flowing, drain the tank partway, unscrew the old valve with a pipe wrench, and install a new one.

2. Check the Anode Rod and Replace It If Necessary

The anode rod is one of the essential parts of your water heater. It protects your water heater from corrosion and rust. The anode rod is composed of a steel rod with aluminum wrapped around it. Its life expectancy is less than your water heater, so it must be checked and replaced if necessary.

The anode rod is in a hot, moist, and intense environment while sitting in the metal tank. It’s a necessary component to extending the life of your water heater. 

The anode road releases electrons into the water as it erodes, which helps slow and prevent corrosion in the tank. In fact, the rod is designed to wear out and eventually fail. That’s its entire purpose.

 You can check the condition of your anode rod by removing it from your water heater and inspecting it for corrosion. 

3. Flush The Tank Regularly to Remove Sediment

Over time, sediment, calcium, and minerals settle at the bottom of the water heater tank. This is normal, but for your water heater to function efficiently or even properly, you need to remove these materials regularly. 

One big reason this is necessary is the location of the heating element. The heating element is at the bottom of the tank. If that element is blocked by sediment, your water heater must work harder to heat water. That can lead to failure and more costly water heater maintenance. 

To remove sediment and buildup, allow the water heater to cool down and turn off the water supply. Then, simply drain the water from the tank and refill it. This is something that can be done at home, but if you’re uncomfortable doing it yourself, you should call a professional technician and have your water heater flushed.

4. Adjust the Temperature

With rising energy bills, we’re all looking for ways to save money at home. One way to cut down your power bill is to lower the temperature of your water heater. This can prolong the life of your water heater and save on energy costs. 

Adjust the temperature

The US Department of Energy recommends setting the temperature of your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only will this help save on your energy costs, but it also slows mineral buildup and corrosion, extending the life of your water heater and pipes. 

You can lower the temperature on your water heater by turning the know on the tank. As a safety precaution, it’s recommended that you shut off the electricity to the water heater before you remove or open any panels. 

You should always consult the owner’s manual or contact a professional technician if you have questions or are unsure what to do. 

5. Insulate the Tank and Pipes

Saving money at home is a hot topic, and one way to save on energy costs is to insulate your water heater tank and the pipes coming from it. This will help keep the water leaving the tank hot, so the heater doesn’t have to work as hard. A tiny step like this will not only save you money in energy costs but will also extend the life of your water heater. 

Insulation is an easy and effective thing you can do yourself at home. It’s also inexpensive. While the tank is great at holding water, it doesn’t necessarily trap the heat well. By wrapping your water heater tank in an insulation blanket, you can reduce standby heat loss and save on your monthly power bill. 

You can buy pre-cut insulation at local hardware stores or a home center. All you need to do is cut it to size and wrap it around the tank and pipes. This can be accomplished in no time at all and will produce immediate results and savings. 

6. Inspect the Pipes and Connections for Leaks

Check water heater for leaks

Here is another easy one. Look at your water heater pipes and connections – all of them coming into and leaving the tank. Do you see leaks? Leaks can develop in the connections to and from the water heater. If left unchecked, these leaks can cause significant damage. 

When you look for leaks, it’s important to look for wet spots or drips. These could be recent, so you still see the water, or they might be older leaks. In those instances, you’ll want to look for anything that looks like water damage. If you find anything, tighten the connections, or replace any pipes that look like they’re leaking. 

Although an inspection is fairly simple, you might encounter a problem or leak that you cannot fix yourself. If that happens, you may want to reach out to a water heater professional to take care of those issues for you.

7. Schedule Regular Maintenance Check-Ups

Regular water heater maintenance

If you want your water heater to maintain peak efficiency and run properly, it’s a good idea to have it checked by a professional every few years. They know what to look for and can perform a more thorough inspection than can be done with the naked eye. 

They can also recommend service to maintain the life of your water heater and let you know if any problems need to be addressed. They can also clean your tank and flush it, if necessary, among other things. 

If you have questions, they can answer them, so you’re fully aware of everything going on with your water heater. 


Your water heater works hard for you and your family. From time to time, it’s important to check up on your water heater and provide it with some TLC. You want it to last for years to come, and there are some things you can do so you can avoid more expensive water heater maintenance. 

Duncan Plumbing is your servicer in Santa Cruz for all your water heater needs. We specialize in water heaters, plumbing, sewer, and drain cleaning services. We’re a Diamond Certified plumbing company dedicated to providing Santa Cruz county residents and businesses with prompt, courteous, and professional service. 

Contact us today or call (831) 476-1712, and we’ll have one of our highly skilled and well-mannered plumbers assist you. We pride ourselves on customer satisfaction and attention to detail. We’re available for same-day or next-day service and have a live answer 24/7. 

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