The Seattle Water Heater Experts at Complete Mechanical offer tips and tricks to extend the life of your storage tank water heater. Understanding the standard (storage tank) water heater will help you avoid the most common killers. The Storage Tank Water Heater Specialists at Complete Mechanical site the top 5 killers of water heater that they encounter.
1. Water Heater Not Sized Properly
By using a water heater calculator, you can determine the most practical size to suit your needs. Entering specified parameters into the algorithm, including:
- Number of bathrooms
- Number of occupants
- List of appliances that use hot water (dishwasher, washing machine, etc.)
These are the common factors considered when determining the best size water heater for your home. The calculator will determine your required gallonage and British Thermal Unit (BTU) requirements according to your answers to specific questions. As an alternate, the Seattle Hot Water Experts at Complete Mechanical can provide that service for you.
When your water heater is too small, it will experience repeated expansion and contraction from continual overuse. This repeated stress will eventually break the storage tank, despite proper maintenance. Alternatively, a water heater that is too large will consume energy unnecessarily to maintain the thermostat setting on the tank for heated water never used.
2. Sacrificial Anodes, Sacrificed
At the top of most storage tank water heaters is a sacrificial anode. This element is designed to attract minerals from the water that can cause rust. The storage tank’s walls are protected from rusting when the minerals are drawn to the sacrificial anode. When the anode has been sacrificed, or completely used up, it no longer protects the storage tank walls. Sacrificial anodes can be:
- a steel rod wrapped in aluminum
- a steel rod wrapped in magnesium
- charged or powered
The advantage to power anodes is that they do not wear out like the standard, wrapped sacrificial anodes.
Generally, if a storage tank has a 12-year warranty, there are two sacrificial anodes and a 6-year warranty indicates there is one sacrificial anode. It is important to realize that softened water will wear out the sacrificial anodes more quickly. If you are heating softened water, the sacrificial anodes should be checked and replaced as necessary at least two times per year during routine maintenance.
3. Buildup of Scale
Allowing sediment (scale) to accumulate (buildup) in the bottom of your water heater’s storage tank will cause:
- Excessive heat that can melt the tank’s glass lining
- The bottom of the tank to become insulated and not protected by the sacrificial anodes, which will eventually cause the tank to rust through.
Allowing scale to buildup in your water heater storage tank may void the manufacturer’s warranty. By draining about 1/3 of the quantity of water from the storage tank at least twice a year will eliminate scale buildup. This is easily accomplished by connecting a garden hose to the storage tank’s hose bib (at bottom of storage tank) and draining the water into a sink or drain. Visually inspect the water as it drains to determine that it is running clear and free of sediment. This is a good time to inspect the sacrificial anodes and replace as indicated.
4. Water Pressure too High
To reduce damage to pipes, the water heater and your home’s appliances, the pressure at the outlet of your water heater storage tank should not exceed 80 pounds per square inch (psi). The excessive pressure will put undue stress on the storage tank. The problem can be solved in one of two ways:
- Install a pressure reducing valve at the outlet of the storage tank
- Install an expansion tank at the outlet of the storage tank
Choosing the expansion tank will also guard against thermal expansion when the water heater cycles to maintain the set point when there is no demand.
5. Fumes from Corrosive Chemicals
Corrosive chemicals (bleach, ammonia, acids, etc.) release fumes. If these fumes are released close to the water heater, they will be drawn in during the combustion process. This will result in corrosive flames that will harm the water heater. The easiest/safest solution: Never store corrosive chemicals close to your water heater!