Tucked away somewhere in your basement, utility closet or garage is an essential home appliance that provides you hot water at a moment’s notice for cooking, cleaning and bathing. Yet, this appliance is easily overlooked when it comes to energy efficiency, water quality and home system maintenance. To ensure the best service from your water heater, underline water heater maintenance on your home care to-do list this fall and, as well, take advantage of these handy DIY tips!

Inspecting Your Water Heater

The first task on your water heater maintenance list is a visual inspection to determine its general condition. Look for corrosion and rust on the tank, which often indicates leaky gaskets. Pooling water, water stains on the floor and/or water-stained drywall near the tank indicate water leak problems, as well.

Water leaks may be resolved by replacing a gasket or, if the tank lining itself is leaking due to rust and corrosion, you may prevent a ruptured tank in your home by contacting your plumbing professional right away.

Check the Water Temperature

Your water heater is essentially on day in, day out — heating and reheating stored water. This means your water heater soaks up a substantial portion of your energy budget. In fact, only the A/C and furnace use more energy than the water heater in the typical home. Even so, your water heating system may offer you many ways to curb your energy bill.

  • Use a thermometer to check the temperature of hot water at the most distant outlet. It should be between 115 and 120 degrees. If your water heater is still set at factory settings, the temperature may be 140 to 145 degrees, which can quickly cause scalding. Turn back the temperature dial to save energy and enjoy safer hot water.
  • Additionally, a higher water temperature expedites tank deterioration and mineral accumulation on the bottom of the tank. So, lowering your water temperature helps extend the service life of your water heater.
  • Use fiberglass insulation wrap around the inlet and outlet pipes of your water heater to prevent standby heat loss. In fact, check all of the hot water pipes in your home to make sure they are insulated. You’ll receive hot water faster at the outlet or appliance, which saves you water, time and money.
  • If you have an older water heater, touch the sides of the tank to see if it is warm. Water heater insulation blankets and jackets curb standby heat loss through the sides of the tank, which means stored water doesn’t need to be reheated as often.

Draining the Tank

One of the most important water heater maintenance tasks is draining your water heater each year. This flushes out sediment and mineral deposits that reduce energy efficiency and wear out the tank faster. Following are the basic steps:

  • Turn off the electricity and/or gas to the water heater.
  • Turn off the water inlet valve.
  • Turn on a bathtub spout to maintain neutral pressure inside the tank.
  • Attach a garden hose to the drain bib located at the bottom side of the tank.
  • Extend the hose to the floor drain or outside your home.
  • Turn on the drain bib to empty the water heater (remember, the water is hot so use caution).
  • Once the tank has emptied, remove the drain bib.
  • Insert a long pipe cleaning brush to scrub the bottom of the tank.
  • Reattach the drain bib and hose, and turn on the water inlet valve to continue flushing the tank for 5 minutes.
  • Turn off the drain bib and detach the hose.
  • Turn on the water inlet valve to fill the tank.
  • Turn on the electric and/or gas.


If you have questions about water heater maintenance, or would rather your plumbing professional handle it, contact the experts at MN Plumbing & Appliance today!