Routine Maintenance Checklist
Water heaters, like all appliances, require routine maintenance to prolong the life of the unit and improve operating efficiency. The four tasks required for water heater maintenance are the TPR valve test, cathodic anode check, sediment draining, and burner cleaning. The TPR valve should tested monthly as a matter of safety. The cathodic anode inspection and sediment draining is a result of mineral deposits from hard water. The burner cleaning is needed to remove buildup of combustion debris on gas burners and mineral deposits on electric heating elements, depending on your home’s water heater.
The TPR (Temperature Pressure Relief) valve activates when the pressure inside reaches dangerously high levels. If this safety feature fails, the tank could explode. Typically the TPR valve fails because salt, rust, and corrosion freezes the valve. Testing the valve as a part of monthly home maintenance will not only serve as a check but also keep it from sticking.
To check the TPR valve look at the top of the tank for a lever labelled “test.” Press the lever a couple times to see if water rushes out the drainpipe. If no water drains or it is just a slow trickle, replace the TPR valve.
Cathodic Anode Rod
The cathodic anode rod helps to neutralize minerals entering the tank. This chemical reaction reduces the deterioration of the inside of the water tank from rust. Since the purpose of the rod is to react with minerals it will slowly deteriorate away and need to be replaced eventually.
To inspect the rod you will need to remove it from the tank. Turn off the power as a safety precaution. Look for a hex nut on the top of the tank. Spin it out using a wrench. The nut will be attached to the rod and come out as one piece. If the rod is highly deteriorated, a replacement can be found for $15-20.