Your Hot Water Tank: A Maintenance Checklist

As homeowners, we have several systems working together to provide us with the modern comforts we depend on, and few of us give them a second thought until they break down. 

Even if you haven’t experienced any issues with your water heater, by attending to a few small, simple maintenance checks, you can increase its efficiency, enhance its performance, and prolong its life.

But how often should you check in with your unit? And what should you be looking for? Follow this handy checklist guide to learn everything you need to know about maintaining your water heater. 

Get to Know Your Water Heater

It’s a good idea to conduct routine checks on your system. But how well do you really know your hot water tank?

Let’s get to know your water heater a little better, so you know how it works, what it does, and what signs of trouble you should keep an eye out for.

How Often Should You Inspect Your Tank?

If your hot water tank is in a room that you frequent often, it's easier to take a quick look at it from time to time. Look for obvious signs of trouble: leaks and odd noises. 

If your water heater isn't in a conspicuous place, we suggest getting into the habit of checking it every few months to ensure it's working as it should, and there are no visible issues.

What to Look for

It’s important to remember: even if your water heater is producing hot water, it may have some serious issues you don’t know about. When you inspect your unit, check for signs of the following:

  • Leaking water
  • Odd noises
  • Banging or clanking
  • Bad odours

Besides physically checking your water tank, there are a few other things to keep an eye on:

  • Higher than usual energy bills
  • Hot, but discoloured water

These things could mean your water heater is working overtime and getting close to needing repairs, or that it’s time to consider a replacement. If you see signs of trouble, don’t wait! Call your heating professionals before you are completely devoid of all the hot water your family depends on.

What Should You Do? Your Maintenance Checklist

You’ve checked your unit thoroughly, and from what you can tell, your tank has no issues. However, there are still some things you can do to increase efficiency, improve the quality of your water, and enhance your unit’s performance. 

After all, your hot water tank is an important piece of equipment that your family relies on every single day. Why not prolong its life as best as you can?

Before you do any of the following, we caution you that your hot water tank contains extremely hot water. Please be careful at all times, and consult the professionals at Mersey Heating & Air Conditioning if you do not feel comfortable conducting these maintenance checks yourself. 

Control Temperature Setting

You may or may not notice that your water is too hot when you turn on your tap - or not hot enough.

Hot water can be extremely dangerous and can burn a child’s skin in a quarter of the time it takes an adult skin to burn. The Government of Canada suggests setting the temperature of your water heater to 49 °C or 120 °F to prevent scalding.

Similarly, if your water temperature is not hot enough, it can lead to the growth of harmful bacteria, called Legionella

Refer to the diagram above to find out the placement of your temperature control thermostat. If the temperature is lower or higher than 49 °C or 120 °F, adjust it carefully.

Vacation Setting

You may not know it, but most water heaters have a built-in “vacation mode” setting. When you go on holiday, and your hot water tank isn’t in use, it’s a good idea to adjust your tank temperature. This vacation mode setting makes it easy to switch to a low-efficiency, energy-saving setting when you won’t be needing hot water. 

If your hot water tank doesn’t have this setting, simply turn your temperature dial down to between 54 °C and 49 °C for best results. Just don’t forget to readjust it when you return! 

Insulate Your Tank

Your maintenance professional or your local hardware store both offer thermal wraps, which fit around the outside of your tank to reduce energy consumption and prolong the life of your unit.

Insulating your tank cuts down on standby heat loss, especially if your tank is located in a cold basement or furnace room. A thermal wrap means your unit doesn’t have to work as hard to generate and maintain the temperature of the water in your tank, which leads to lower energy costs. This reduces wear and tear, potentially extending the life of your unit.

Check the Space Around Your Heater

Your water heater needs adequate room and ventilation to work efficiently. Water heaters require a certain amount of clearance, or air space, to function correctly and safely. Check the area around your hot water tank periodically to ensure no items are crowding your unit.

Consider a Filtration System

A water heater filtration system consists of a tube, which is attached to the pipe that carries the water through your hot water tank. It's similar to a drinking water filtration system, but it's specifically meant to protect your water heater from excess mineral deposits and scale. When this sediment builds up in your tank, it can affect the efficiency of your heater, reduce its lifespan and lead to costly repair bills. To find out more about filtration systems, contact us today

Schedule Professional Maintenance Regularly

There are many reasons to call in the professionals. These experts will conduct the following checks thoroughly and perform the following maintenance tasks, so your unit is running efficiently and safely at all times.

  • Drain Sediment from the Tank. During the water heating process, calcium, magnesium, and other minerals contained in your water form sediment particles that settle to the bottom of your tank. When this sediment builds up, it can affect the efficiency of your heater, reduce its lifespan, and lead to costly repair bills. Your heating professional will drain your tank to remove all excess sediment.
  • Check the Ventilation. The space around your tank will be measured to ensure it is up to current safety codes and thoroughly checked for proper airflow and ventilation. 
  • Check for Carbon Monoxide. A gas water heater that has been neglected, improperly installed, or poorly vented can leak dangerous carbon monoxide. Your heating and cooling professional will conduct an indoor air quality test to ensure your unit is venting correctly, and your family is safe.
  • Test Water Quality. Your maintenance professional will also test the quality and temperature of your water to ensure bacteria levels and PH levels are within a safe range.
  • Test the Temperature & Pressure Relief (TPR) Valve. Your TPR valve will be tested to ensure it is functioning correctly and can be used to release water if the pressure or water temperature exceeds safe levels.
  • Check the Anode Rod. Your anode rod is a metal rod located inside your tank designed to corrode so your tank doesn’t. Your maintenance professional will check your anode rod to see if it needs to be replaced so that your tank doesn’t start to deteriorate and rust.

hot water maintenance checklist

Contact Your Water Heater Professionals

We all depend on hot water for a multitude of daily tasks. Following this simple maintenance checklist can significantly prolong the life of your water heater, lower your hot water related costs, and keep unexpected repair and replacement costs at bay. 

Call us today for all of your water heater maintenance needs. Our friendly professionals will check your unit top to bottom to ensure its working as efficiently and safely as possible.