Reuben's Home Inspection Blog

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Should You Drain Your Water Heater?

 

I've read a lot of water heater installation manuals, and they all give the same advice on water heater maintenance, but most people don't do any type of maintenance on their water heaters, period.  Today I'm going to go over the routine maintenance that water heater manufacturers recommend, and I'll throw in my two cents.  My take on water heater maintenance should be much more interesting than reading the installation manual.

Drain Flush the water heater

Every month (yes, every month) you're supposed to flush some water out of the bottom of your tank.  There's a drain valve at the bottom of the water heater tank that can be opened to allow water to drain out.   You don't need to literally drain the water out of the water heater, just open the valve and let some water come out; Rheem says a few quarts is fine.

Water Heater DrainIf you want to really flush out the bottom of the water heater tank, you could attach a garden hose and let a bunch of water flow through.  This water is constantly being replaced by the cold water coming in to the water heater, so you don't even need to have a floor drain close by if you have a long enough garden hose.

If the drain valve leaks when you're done, don't worry.  The cheap, easy, and effective repair is to screw a garden hose cap on to the end of the drain valve.  This is a perfectly safe and perfectly acceptable repair.

The reason for flushing the water heater is to help prevent the accumulation of sediment on the bottom of the tank.  As sediment collects in the bottom of the water heater tank over the years, it will begin to surround and insulate the thermostat, which can lead to the water heater running for longer and longer periods of time, which will decrease the life of the water heater and lead to eratic water temperatures.  I'm pretty sure this is why most water heater manufacturers don't actually publish the water temperature on their control valves.

Water Heater Maintenance ChartSo there's the what and the why... and now my two cents.  I don't drain my own water heater.  It seems like a pain in the butt, and I'm not convinced that doing this will actually help to extend the life of my water heater.  I know it's anecdotal evidence, but just last year I came across a used water heater sitting out in someone's garage for disposal while doing a home inspection in Champlin.  The water heater was installed in 1998 and failed approximately 12 years later.  For the record, water heaters typically come with 6, 9, or 12 year warranties.  What made this so juicy was that there was a chart on the water heater that the owner had diligently filled out every time he drained the water heater... but the water heater still failed after 12 years.  Even though the owner hadn't drained the water heater every month I would have thought this would have helped out at least a little more.

Just for this blog, I hooked up a garden hose to the drain valve on my water heater and flushed some water out.  After about three seconds, the valve itself started leaking extremely hot water out all over me.  I quickly closed the valve and decided not to flush the water heater again.

If you have a new water heater and you're a diligent homeowner, go ahead and flush your tank every month.  If you have a water heater that's several years old and has never been flushed, I've heard it's better to just leave it alone.

Test the pressure relief valve

Every year, the temperature and pressure relief valve is supposed to be opened to allow several gallons of water to drain out.  Doing this will help to clear out sediment accumulation, and will let you know that the valve still operates freely.

Relief Valve

The problem with this test is that the valve may not close properly after it gets opened.  The older the water heater, the greater potential you have for a leaking valve.  If the valve leaks after this test, it can be replaced.  Temperature and pressure relief valves sell for about $10 - $15, and they're fairly easy to replace.

Check the Anode Rod

Every year, the sacrificial anode rod is supposed to be checked for deterioration and replaced if neccessary.   The purpose of the anode rod is to save the rest of the water heater from destruction by sacrificing itself.  Hey, maybe they should call it a Jesus rod ;).  I don't remember much from chemistry, but I found this text at by doing a quick google search:

Cathodic protection is a scheme in which a piece of reactive metal, typically magnesium, is connected to the steel to form an electrochemical cell. Magnesium ions (Mg2+) form more easily than iron ions and enough electrons are given up by the magnesium atoms as they become positive ions to completely dominate the hydroxide ion formation process. With nowhere for their electrons to go, the iron atoms can't become iron ions and rusting can't proceed. As long as the magnesium metal, often called the "sacrificial anode", remains intact and connected to the steel, the steel won't rust significantly.

Wonderful.  I don't quite follow, but the bottom line is that once the anode rod is badly deteriorated, the rest of the water heater will follow.  Replacing the anode rod when needed is supposed to go a long way toward extending the life of the water heater.

Anode RodTo check the anode rod, you'll need to start by turning off the water supply to the water heater, and draining a few inches of water out of the tank.   Now you just need to locate the thing on the top of the water heater that looks like a hex head plug - see the photo at right; that's the top of the anode rod.  Get a 1 1/16" socket wrench (yes, this is a standard size), unscrew the anode rod, and pull it out of the water heater to inspect it.   Once there is more than six inches of core showing at the anode rod, it's time to replace it.

There are four problems you might run in to if you want to check on / replace your anode rod:

  1. Most homeowners in Minneapolis and Saint Paul don't have enough ceiling height in the basement to pull the anode rod out.  If that's the case, they'd actually need to completely drain and un-install the water heater and lay it on it's side to check on the anode rod.
  2. Most homeowners don't own a 1-1/16" socket wrench.
  3. It will probably require an impact wrench to get this thing out.  I tried getting mine out, but it's in there so tight that the water heater actually started to turn, and I didn't have a second person to help me hold the water heater steady.  If you want to see just how tough it is, check out this video - changing a water heater anode rod.
  4. Water heater anode rods aren't readily available at local home improvement stores - the Menards and Home Depot by my house don't sell them, but the Hardware Hank in Maple Grove does.  They had two in stock - one long one, and one short one.

Sorry to be cynical, but checking on and replacing an anode rod is too difficult.  When the manufacturers make it just about impossible to do this step that's supposed to dramatically increase the life of your appliance... of course nodody is going to do it.  What incentive does the manufacturer have in making this step easy?

By the way, if you do happen to replace your anode rod, I've heard you're supposed to save the old magnesium rod for Independance Day.  That's just what I've heard.  Good times.

 

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections

        

Comment balloon 71 commentsReuben Saltzman • May 17 2011 06:22AM

Comments

Good Morning Reuben. Your right. Not sure I have ever actually heard of anyone maintaining their water heater. lol

Posted by Randy Ostrander, Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI (Lake and Lodge Realty LLC ) over 7 years ago

Great advice, although you're right few people ever do it.  Similar filter and cleaning needed on tankless systems.  And again few people do what's needed.  Nice post.

Posted by Jon Solomon (Javic Homes) over 7 years ago

My hot water heater was just replaced.  I'm waiting to see how much my electric bill is reduced.  The last one was over 20 years old....

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) over 7 years ago

I'm tired just reading about it  What happened to "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"?

Posted by Ann Bellamy (Hard money lending for investors in NH and MA) over 7 years ago

Randy - I rarely hear about it.  Every once in a while I'll hear from someone who swears by draining their water heater every month, but I ain't buyin' it.

Jon - thanks.  I haven't read any maintenance manuals for tankless systems yet...  I don't see nearly as many of those.  I'll have to brush up on that.

Wallace - twenty years is fantastic!  You can't ask for much more.  Well, you can ask, but you probably won't get it.

Ann - me too.  I've never done any of these steps up until writing this blog.  

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

Hi Reuben - Wow! You go to great lengths to provide real hands-on experience in your blog! And I really appreciate your very informed post. I hit Suggest.

Posted by Judy Klem, Home Staging, Senior Move Management, Fairfield/New Haven counties (Transition Stage LLC) over 7 years ago

I didn't know until last month my heater has a filter on the bottom.  It's plastic and I'm to clean it every month or two.  However when they installed it they failed to tell me interesting how they charged me for the service call and told me like a afterthought

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) over 7 years ago

I just suggested you my friend.

In my blog the other day I suggested that manufacturers want us to drain it every year, while plumbers say that the mechanisms are plastic and easy to break! I asked if that easiness might be intentional?

Yes, I'm a jaded old man...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

James, Great info.  The water heaters are generally neglected.  Just run until they fail.

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) over 7 years ago

I wouldn't recommend home owners to change their HWT maintenance habits unless they are having problems. Around here the water quality is very good and people rarely touch the tanks at all. They are in service for their full predicted  lifespan and longer in many cases.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) over 7 years ago

James, great information. I think that is the most ignored appliance in the home.

Posted by Ritu Desai, Virginia Realtor-Fairfax/Loudoun/PW-703-625-4949 (Samson Properties) over 7 years ago

Excellent information! Most of us don't even remember we have water heaters, until they're gone!

Posted by Chris and Berna Sloan, Tooele UT (Group 1 Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Hi Reuben ~ Everytime the water heater is serviced for some reason, this suggestion always comes up and I always promise to do it and then I don't. Thanks again for the reminder. Maybe I need to calendar this and then it won't slip through.

Posted by Sandy Acevedo, RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale (951-290-8588) over 7 years ago

Coming up on 14 years, I'm not to going to start flushing my water heater now.  I'll just wait to replace it and hopefully that won't happen on a freezing cold, winter morning with only cold water comes out of the shower head!  :)

Posted by Dan Weis, CincinnatiRealEstateGuy.com (Comey & Shepherd Realtors) over 7 years ago

RUeben ~ What great information.  I thought having it flushed by my semi-annual plumbing inspection was a good thing.  First I've heard about a monthly flush.  I guess you never can have too much information.  Thanks for the post.

Posted by Ken Speer (Alpha Global Associates) over 7 years ago

Last year I drained my water heater.

Done it several times in the past.

But last year, apparently I drained before I shut power to unit off and burned out my 2 heating elements.

Thought at first I was going to have to replace entire unit, and to have installed was looking at around $750 !

But, one of my contractors said I should replace the elements, not the entire heater.

I responded that I didn't have the knowwithall to do such a huge, complicated project!

He said it was actually fairly easy. He recommended I contact the manufacturer, and then go on line and watch videos on how to Do It Myself!

Ahhhhh, technology!

I did just that. And, armed with my new found knowledge and confidence, went to Lowes, bought 2 elements, and installed them myself--cost = $75

The one thing I DID do that I thought was ingenious, was to take a picture of each thermostat gizmo.  That way there, when it came time to hook everything back up, I had a referrence to go to.  Boy, did THAT save my hide!

Posted by Fulton Gaylord, 1st-Time Home Buyer Realtor - Charlottesville, VA (Keller Williams Realty) over 7 years ago

The water heaters in Houston/Katy are mainly in the attic and let me tell you working with these devices in an attic is no fun. I tried once to do the water hose trick and I had a total mess. Never agin that is for sure. thanks for the blog..

Posted by Robert Bob Gilbert, Your Katy TX ( West of Houston) Real Estate Expert (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties) over 7 years ago

True Reuben, I drain about 1-2 gallons out of ours every 2-3 weeks. We are on well water, and wells around here have lots of iron and manganese in them. What comes out of ours is dark and think green and black sediment that looks like a mix of oil and antifreeze. And we use this same water to cook, shower, drink, etc. I'll try to remember to take and post a pic next time I drain some out.

Posted by Jeff Pearl, Full Service Full Time Realtor (RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA) over 7 years ago

That is a lot of work for a maintance and if you are not handy it might just be better to not do anything and just pray it will last at least 15 years.

Posted by Mike Yeo (3:16 team REALTY) over 7 years ago

This is one of the tasks most homeowners are not doing. If you don't mind, i'll share this article to my readers. Thank you!

Posted by Rob Kittle, "We Specialize, You Benefit!" -Kittle Real Estate (Kittle Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Great summary and commentary.  I certainly don't drain it every month.  Once a year during the summer, if I remember, is the usual maintenance. 

Mel

 

Posted by Mel Ahrens, MBA, Kelly Right Real Estate, Customized Choices for your Real Estate Needs (Kelly Right Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Reuben -- I have never flushed or had my water heater flushed.  It's 12 years old. I am keeping this VERY informative post for reference, but I think I will just leave well enough alone.  I am thinking of getting a new one anyway.  Fingers crossed until I do. Thanks!

Posted by Barbara Altieri, REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale (RealtyQuest/Kinard Realty Group, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Reuben, after losing a water tank on Christmas Day many, many years ago, I'll let it flow until it runs clear, usually two or three times a year.  I've never had an anode rod fully sacrifice itself so that doesn't concern me too much.  If I see rust around the bottom of a tank I immediately become suspect.  Great post that literally hit home!

Posted by Kevin J. May, Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida (Florida Supreme Realty) over 7 years ago

Reuben,

This is funny. I have drained(flushed) my water heater exactly once. I will never do it again. Painful. I also have seen water heaters that have never been touched that are working fine well past the lifetime.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Great tips, although I don't think many people follow these guidelines.

Posted by Chris Lefebvre, Methuen MA Real Estate Pro (eXp Realty) over 7 years ago

I have never owned a water heater. My parents had one in their house, which I changed once. I have also changed them for friends. But nope, never had one.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 7 years ago

I have had teenagers so I feel like I am exempt.  My water heater gets drained on a regular basis!

Posted by Renée Donohue~Home Photography, Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer (Savvy Home Pix) over 7 years ago

Reuben - It sounds to me like I'm better off just leaving bad enough alone.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) over 7 years ago

That's great information, thank you for sharing...

Posted by Anonymous over 7 years ago

Reuben of the three things you mentioned I only recommend testing the TPRV---pretty easy to replace---pretty nasty if it fails.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 7 years ago

Reuben:

Wow!  I have never heard that I needed to flush my water heater.  I will reread your blog and try to flush my water heater.  Sounds tricky to me, but I will give it a try.  Thanks for the info.

Posted by Evelyn Kennedy, Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA (Alain Pinel Realtors) over 7 years ago

Thanks for the comments everyone!

Judy - thanks for the suggestion.

James - I wish I knew what this filter looked like.  I don't think I've ever seen that before.

Jay - yes, those plastic drains are definitely easy to break.  I was just glad that tightening my drain valve got the water to stop spraying all over the place.  Thanks for suggesting.

Liz and Bill - you meant Reuben, right?  :)

Robert - I gotta agree with you.  This was the first time I've ever done any maintenance on my water heater.  Ever.

Ritu - see my comment to Liz and Bill above.

Chris - that includes me.

Sandi - I really wouldn't worry about it much.

Dan - after 14 years of not draining your water heater, I think that draining it now would probably only do harm.  Leave it alone.

Ken - you have semi-annual plumbing inspections?  Wow, good for you.  I was also surprised to see that the manufacturers recommended doing this monthly.

 

 

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

Fulton - way to go!  Taking a photo was a great idea.  From now on, just remember that you only need to flush your water heater tank, not drain it.

Robert - I think I've seen one water heater in an attic, ever.  That just seems so wrong to me...

Jeff - ewwww.  Yes, please remember to post a pic.

Mike - agreed.

Rob - please do, thanks!

Mel & Gretchen - if you flush your water heater once a year, you're doing better than just about everyone else.

Barbara - My take on water heater replacement is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Kevin - so you've actually checked on your anode rod?  Good for you!

Donald - ditto :)

Chris - yes, and the people that do follow these guidelines don't seem to have any better luck sometimes.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

James - great blog (ha ha)!  Please explain to me how you have never owned a water heater.  I can't figure that one out.  

Renee - water heaters have water that comes in at the bottom and leaves at the top.  The idea with flushing your water heater is to have some of the water leave the bottom instead.

Christine - probably so.

Charles - personally, I'm not even sold on the TPRV maintenance.  Has there ever been a documented case of a relief valve that failed to operate which led to a catastrophic failure?  I just trust them to do their thing.

Evelyn - yes, please be sure to re-read this blog before you decide to flush your water heater.  You might change your mind.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

I wonder how many people actually do this. . it makes a lot of sense to get rid of sediments and particles so it will last. .

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) over 7 years ago

Reuben the quality fo the drinking water has a lot to do with it as well. Ideal water, with a hydroxide potential (pH)of 7 is neutral. if below 7 it falls under the acidic side, which can be more aggressive to the water heater and should have a neutralizer in the water line, and if it's above 7 it's alkaline or hard and requires a softener in the line. Well water can have the Ph variations, but city water is usually neutral at 7 and that may be where the water heaters last longer. An undersized water heater, because it's cotinuous firing will also go sooner than a properly sized unit.

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 7 years ago

AHHH!

Posted by Renée Donohue~Home Photography, Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer (Savvy Home Pix) over 7 years ago

Informative post and glad you and I agree... I aint touching my H2O heater.

Posted by Justin Morgan, Investor/Agent with www.435SELLNOW.com ( 435SELLNOW.com - Justin Morgan Real Estate Team) over 7 years ago

Just had mine serviced because it wasn't getting hot enough. Other than that, I've had them last 10+ years without a problem ... except replacing the elements.

Posted by Gary Burleson, Myrtle Beach Homes, Condos, Foreclosures, Investment Propery (Beach Water Realty - www.beachwaterrealty.com) over 7 years ago

James,my water heater is over 20 years old and has never been flushed. At this stage of it's life I'm afraid to go anywhere near it.

Posted by Ray Waisler, NMLS #6621 - Specializing in Jumbo FHA & VA (Finance of America) over 7 years ago

I've never done this. Very interesting! I'm definitely re-reading! Thanks!

Posted by Sylvie Stuart, Home Buying, Home Selling and Investment - Flagsta (Realty One Group Mountain Desert 928-600-2765) over 7 years ago

My water heater is 12 years old and has never been drained or flushed.  A home inspector mentioned that the water in our area is very clean - not much sediment or minerals thus the water heaters don't really need to be flushed.  I would like to read the newsletter that #38 is putting out. 

Posted by Ann Wilkins, Oakland, Berkeley, Piedmont CA (Golden Gate Sotheby's International Realty) over 7 years ago

I know, but never do!

Posted by Brenda, Ron, Lee Cunningham & Tara Keator, Realtors, Homes for Sale - Phoenix Metro (West USA Realty) over 7 years ago

Hi Reuben,  thanks for the tips.  Do you have any additional info for areas (like the desert) with hard water?  Thanks!!!!

Posted by Adam Mallory, Broker, ABR, e-Pro (eBroker Real Estate 619-566-ADAM) over 7 years ago

Great information about water heaters. Thank you.

Posted by Kimo Jarrett, Pro Lifestyle Solutions (WikiWiki Realty) over 7 years ago

I have never met anyone in my 63 years of being on the planet that ever did anything with their water tank.  The best thing to do is just go tankless!  Problem solved!

Posted by Jirius Isaac, Real Estate & loans in Kenmore, WA (Isaac Real Estate &TriStar Mortgage) over 7 years ago

This is interesting. My husband is a retired building contractor and has spent a lot of time talking with plumbers. I'm going to ask him if they've ever mentioned this.

If ours ever fails, we're planning to go tankless.

Posted by Marte Cliff, Your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) over 7 years ago

Rueben, I have always had and still do a tankless coil on my boiler. So yes I do have a water heater, just not a storage tank type like you were talking about here funny guy :) 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 7 years ago

Great! Great! Informative  Post. I was thinking Just run it until they fail... Thank you Reuben!!

Posted by Emilia Cooper over 7 years ago

Thanks for the post. I had never heard of the folding sacrificial rods before. Always something new to learn!

Posted by Marshall Brown, BSEE, CHI (Mid America Inspection Services, LLC) over 7 years ago
What an informative post! everything you ever wanted to know about water heaters butcwere afraid to ask! Thanks!
Posted by Kathy Schowe, La Quinta, California 760-333-8886 (California Lifestyle Realty) over 7 years ago

Great post.  I have always intended to flush my water heater, but have never remembered to do it.  Since I am on well water now, maybe I should.  Thanks

Posted by Karen Steed, Associate Broker Haralson Realty (Tallapoosa, Bremen, Waco, Buchanan, Temple, Carrollton) over 7 years ago

I have heard about training the hot water tank.  After reading your post I will drain it when it needs replaced!!

Posted by Robert Courtney, Century 21 All Islands, RA, CDPE, MCRE, CIAS over 7 years ago

Thanks for posting this, i like your tip on how to deal with a leaky drain valve. Last time I checked the valve it started dripping so i never did it again. I also have been wanting to check the anode rod but have not (just think the water heaters is working too hard)

Posted by Scott Fogleman, New Home Team (New Home Team 804-573-9592) over 7 years ago

Fernando - 1 in 300.

Ed - I've heard that the hardness of the water will have an effect as well.

Renee - :)

Justin - good stuff.

Gary - I assume it wasn't getting hot enough because one of the elements failed?

Sylvie - I wouldn't worry about it, but at least you know about it now.

Ann - I've had similar experiences with my water heaters.  I deleted that comment you're referring to; it was rude and insulting, and didn't have anything I could respond to or argue with.  I stand behind what I've written.

Brenda & Ron - same here.

Adam - get a water softener? :)

Kimo  - thanks for reading.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

Oh why did I have to stumble upon this entry?!?!?!

So yesterday after reading this I thought it would be a good idea to replace the sacrificial anode in my water heater...heading up to the hardware store I picked one up for about 15 bucks, no problem. Well then I had to get a 1 1/16 hex socket but they didn't have them without buying a $49 set. So now I'm into this project at 64 bucks. I get home and WOW talk about a hard bolt to get off! I pulled and pulled and pulled some more and guess what? The cold inlet started to leak at the union!! SOO up to the hardware store I go again for parts needed to fix the leak. No big deal I guess at only $4 but of course comes the work to connect it...

In the end I spent about 75 dollars and STILL didn't get the dang anode out so I just flushed the water heater. Imagine spending 75 bucks to flush your water heater!! Man I'm a knucklehead.

Posted by Vince Santos, Southeast Michigan Home Inspector (StepByStep Home Services LC) over 7 years ago

Thanks so much for this amazingly informative post!  Out tank was old when we bought our home, and we've never flushed it since we made the purchase.  I was feeling guilty about this neglect, but I will no longer!  :)

Posted by Rhonda Abbott, Wadsworth & Greater Akron, OH (Howard Hanna) over 7 years ago

I have heard both sides of the story. Some says do it, others says don't. I guess if you do it, keep doing it, otherwise don't touch it.

Posted by Loreena and Michael Yeo, Real Estate Agents (3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Frisco TX Real Estate Co.) over 7 years ago

Nice post.  I always like good post from Home Inspectors.  I am going to follow your blog looking for more stuff like this.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Jirius - Check out Jay's post on tankless water heaters.

Marte - see above.

James - Maybe I'm going to feel dense after you explain it, but I can't remember ever coming across a tankless coil on a boiler for potable water.  Can you post a picture of it?

Emilia - I've always run mine until they failed.

Marshall - me neither.  I've still never seen one in person.

Kathy - thanks!

Karen - well water?  Yeah, you probably should.  My parents have a cabin on well water with a 15 year old electric water heater that has never been flushed.  I wonder what that looks like?

Robert - that works.  I've heard that on many water heaters, the drains get so clogged with sediment that they won't drain when it's time to replace them, and the drains actually need to be drilled out. 

Scott - when I first heard about the tip for the leaking drain valve, I went "Duh!  Why didn't I think of that!"  As for the anode rod, please read Vince's comment below (#57).

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

Vince - oh man, what a pain!  That story sounds like a great blog post.  I really wanted to pull my anode rod out to include a photo of it for my blog, but I just couldn't do it.  Hey, at least now you have a new socket wrench set :)

Rhonda - yeah, don't worry, you're doing better than most if you even think about maintaining your water heater :)

Loreena - that's exactly what I tell people.  

Gene - thanks!

 

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

Thanks for the info. I was always told to drain the WH every month, well I did it the first month....that was 6 or 7 years ago. Maybe it is time to do it again...

What do you think about the tankless systems?

Posted by Liane Thomas -Top Listing Agent, Bringing you Home! (BROKER Allison James Estates & Homes BRE 01885684) over 7 years ago

Reuben, this was shocking news to me... with proper maintenance, Water Heaters would last much longer, rather than filling with sediment...

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 7 years ago

Hi Liane, I think the tankless systems cost a lot of money but don't save you a lot of money.  Check out Jay's recent post on that topic - http://activerain.com/blogsview/2297270/the-fabled-tankless-water-heater

Chris - possibly so.  I'd love to do a side by side comparison of two water heaters; one maintained, one not.  If I ever get to a point where I need two water heaters, I'll do this test.  Check back with me in about 15 years for the results.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

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Posted by Drain Cleaning Alameda over 7 years ago

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Posted by Fremont Water Heater over 7 years ago

Interesting post, especially since I just called a plumber an hour ago to come and check my water heater.  It is 8 years old, and still works fine.  It is just that it has started making a loud rumbling sound when it is heating water.  I should find out by tomorrow what the problem is.

Posted by Gary Williams, Frisco Texas Homes For Sale (Keller Williams Realty Central) almost 7 years ago

Gary - that popping noise is from sediment on the bottom of your tank.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 7 years ago
This is really useful. We have had to call in emergency heating maintenance services a couple times in the last year. The water heater wasn't well maintained by the previous residents. We're hoping to get it back to good working condition without replacing it. Sal Wesson | http://www.comfortsolutionsutah.com/heating/
Posted by Sal Wesson over 4 years ago

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