Extend The Life Of Your Water Heater: Here Are 4 Ways

Posted: July 21, 2020

water heater maintenance rhode island

From iron and zinc to copper, magnesium, and even lead, your water contains an amount of minerals that falls within local, regional, and federal water quality guidelines. Some water is more mineralized (or “hard”) than others; if you’ve ever noticed water spots on your silverware or glassware after washing it, or had trouble getting a lather from your soap or shampoo, these are signs that you could have hard water.

Unfortunately, hard water can cause bigger problems than simple stains on your barware: eventually, it can threaten one of your home comfort workhorses: your water heater. The good news is with a little preventive care, you can keep hard water from eating away at your hot water storage tank.

How To Prevent Hard Water

Here are four things you can do to prevent hard water from shortening the life of your water heater:

  1. Flush your tank regularly
    Minerals will eventually gather as sediment at the bottom of your water heater storage tank; to combat this mineral accumulation, you need to flush your tank. Ideally, you would do this about three to four times a year.

    To flush your water storage tank,

    • Locate the water heater drain valve – a brass or plastic valve at the bottom of the water heater (see picture)
    • The tip of the valve is threaded to match a standard-sized garden hose; attach one end of the hose to the water heater drain valve, and put the other end near your basement drain or directly outside your home into the gutter or driveway.
    • Open the water heater drain valve; the valve is often opened or closed with a flat head screwdriver. WARNING: THIS WATER WILL BE HOT! Water will flow through the hose, taking sediment with it.
    • Drain for about five minutes, then shut the valve and detach the hose.
  2. Check and change the anode rod
    An anode rod – a steel core wire surrounded with either aluminum, magnesium or zinc that mounts to the top of your heater – “takes one for the team” by drawing the corrosion process to itself rather than the tank lining (the anode rod is often referred to as the “sacrificial rod” for this reason).

    A typical anode rod will last about five years depending on the volume of water that circulates through the tank; if you use a water softener (see below), that window shrinks considerably. Once your anode rod is depleted, your tank will rot much faster – and since replacing an anode rod is a lot cheaper than replacing your tank, it’s best to stay on top of the problem with routine maintenance and expert equipment checks.

    Checking your anode rod takes a few minutes – see your water heater owner’s manual for details, or call us – we’ll do it for you.

  3. Install a water softening system – A water softening system integrates with your home plumbing system to soften the water as it enters the tank. This system should be installed by a professional.
  4. Have your water heater serviced regularly – Like any other home comfort equipment, your water heater will run best when it’s professionally serviced regularly – usually once every two years, in the case of a water heater.

Of course, even if you take all these precautions, your oil-fired water heater will eventually need to be replaced – typically about once every 10 years, if you have a conventional model (one with a tank, as opposed to a tankless water heater). When that time comes, contact us – we’ll have a new high-efficiency water heater installed quickly and correctly, with no need for follow-up hassles.

For expert oil-fired water heater installations and oil-fired water heater maintenance in Rhode Island, trust the pros at Vaughn Oil. Contact us today to learn more!