Jan Ashford Water Heater Guide

The water heater is the workhorse of every home.

It's usually out of sight and completely out of mind - that is‚ until the water runs colder than a frigid mountain stream or soaks your garage floor. Neglect is the enemy of every appliance, but the water heater is especially prone to neglect that can wind up causing large-scale damage. It's also somewhat mysterious - after purchasing and installing it, most people seem shocked when the water heater eventually fails. To demystify this essential component of household life, please read on.

Your Water Heater Loves Your Calendar

Why? The most basic step in caring for your water heater is to observe its function and perform regular maintenance.

  • Every six months, take a quick look at the space around your water heater - keep the area clear for easy access and to avoid potential damage if the unit does break down. Clutter, chemicals, debris, and combustibles all need to be kept far away from the water heater's space. In the case of gas units, air is drawn through the burner and fumes can mix with the water inside, contaminating the water and damaging the interior lining.
  • While you are there‚ check for evidence of leaks. Small leaks become big, expensive leaks if left undetected. The sooner you identify a problem, the less damage you'll deal with in the long run.
  • Fittings and washers need to be checked and tightened, as needed, to prevent leaks and corrosion from the outside.
  • Flush the water heater according to the manufacturer's recommendations‚ especially if you live in an area with hard water.

If you suspect your water heater isn't performing as well as it should, or if it's been neglected for over a year, consider the issues below and call the plumber with your observations.

Dirty Water or Evidence of Rust

Inside the water heater or out‚ rust and dirty water are signs of corrosion. Anode rods are a vital tool in preventing corrosion of the heater's interior and prolong the working life of the unit. The sacrificial anode may be completely consumed and may simply need to be replaced. In fact, anode rods need to be replaced more often in homes equipped with a water softener. An excellent option to consider is a powered anode - these are permanent and do not need replacement. If you see rust on the exterior of the water heater, it may be a sign that the interior has already suffered considerable damage.

Muddy Water or Sediment

"The bottom just dropped out!" is not just hyperbole - ruptures happen with neglected water heaters. Minerals from hard water build up sediment (also called scale). The sediment settles and solidifies in the bottom of the heater, blocking the effect of the anode, and eventually causes the bottom to overheat and destroy the lining. This kind of buildup can actually void some warranties. A regular flush of the water heater can prevent sediment from collecting. If you aren't sure about the condition of your water, take a look at your fixtures throughout the house - if you see lime deposits, scaling in the shower, or buildup on faucets, then your water heater is suffering, too. Ask your plumber to evaluate your water heater.

Something Goes Bump in the Night

Snap‚ crackle‚ pop - those aren't the sounds of cereal in your water heater. As mineral residue builds up, you may hear unusual noises or banging around in the unit as the water heats up. Clumps of sediment do physical damage to the inside of the tank, cause odors, and eventually wear out the metal. This is a precursor to a major leak or rupture, if left undetected.

Metallic Taste or Smelly Water

A metallic tinge or strange smell in the water also indicates a mineral buildup and should never be ignored. Your water heater may need a simple flush. Of course, a sulfur or rotten egg smell is a gas leak! Call a plumber immediately.

Water Leaks, Big and Small

Finding water anywhere it isn't supposed to be is a bad sign and needs to be addressed immediately. Corrosion can be found inside or outside of the water heater - weakened heaters can rupture unexpectedly. To avoid costly damage to your belongings and avoid premature replacement of your water heater, call the plumber if detect a leak of any size.

High Water Pressure

Water pressure exceeding 80 psi can damage water-using appliances and pipes. A pressure reducing valve can help relieve the pressure on your appliances and help extend their working lives. In some cases, an expansion tank is needed to prevent damage from thermal expansion in a closed water heating system.

Size Matters

The size of your household and your use demands should be considered during your routine water heater checks. Is the unit running all the time? Are you constantly running out of hot water? A water heater that is too small will deteriorate and break down much faster, even if the water pressure is normal, proper maintenance is performed, and a powered anode is installed. Get the right water heater for your needs and perform the routine maintenance steps listed above.

A Little Known Fact About Electricity

The vast majority of water heater owners know very little about transient current‚ but ignorance is not bliss. In short, electricity can travel along unintended paths by jumping from different sources to piping. Using copper wire, piping can be bridged and grounded to prevent transient current from causing corrosion in the water heater.

Your water heater does an amazing job - it keeps your water toasty warm for showers‚ helps you keep your dishes safely clean, and makes modern living a breeze. Do it a favor and get to know its needs so that it lives a long, productive life for you.




Call Jan Today at
(602) 910-2433

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