Monday, April 18, 2011

How to Keep Aging Water Heater Alive

Fig.1 25-Year 
old water heater
By Gary Boutin 

Supplies and Tools:
Alligator Vice Grips® pliers  
Garden hose 
Slip joint pliers Ladder

My customer had a water heater that is 25 years old. She wanted the water heater to survive a few more months, so she could save up the money to replace it. The secret that every plumber knows is removing one gallon of water from their water heater every month will lengthen the life of the unit by more than five years. The problem is that by the time we go to work, fight traffic, and bring our kids to all their sporting events, there is little time to do more work on maintaining the house. Today most water heaters cost over $600 and that is with only a five year warranty. Below are the steps to remove the sediments from your water heater and extend its life and save a bundle of money.

This post shows the eleven steps to Keep an Aging Water Heater Alive.

Step 1: The first step in monthly maintenance would be to turn off the cold water valve stopping flow into the water heater. Above Fig.1 shows the twenty five year old water heater. 
Step 2: A 4-foot ladder is needed to reach the valve can be over 6 feet high and close to the wall. 
Step 3: Usually located on the right side (in the U.S.) of the water tank, turn the gate valve until its closed. Some water valves have a ball valve and have a handle which is pulled down to turn the water off. But because this water heater had not been maintained for over 5 years, more water was required to flush the sediments. Therefore, I left the water valve open to thoroughly flush this system.
Step 4: Next is to find the drain spigot near the bottom of the water heater. Fig.2 shows the spigot attached to the appliance with a brass cap. The cap is a good idea if the unit is leaking.
Fig.2 Spigot cover
Step 5: This spigot has no handle, this is the norm on most new water heaters. Older water heater had a spigot with a handle. The top picture shows the cap on the spigot. Fig.3 shows the use slip joint pliers or alligator vice grips were used to remove the cap.
Fig.3 Removal
Step 6: Fig.4 shows once the brass cap is removed the water started dripping out the spigot. The valve was bad and the cap blocked the flow of water. On a newer water heater the valve would be good and there would be no metal cap. The bottom picture shows the water going into a plastic bag until the hose is screwed into the spigot.
Fig.4 Cap removed
Step 7: Fig.5 shows to screw a garden hose on the spigot.
Fig.5 Hose
Step 8: Fig.6 shows the next a garden hose drains the sediments. Be sure to place the far end of the hose out of the building. Fig.7 shows the water draining on the driveway or if you have a garden these sediments are beneficial for your plants.
Fig.6 Water
Driveway water

Step 9: Fig.8 shows the flow of water is seen in coming out of the hose. Look at the water, if it is cloudy, then the sediments are coming out of the water heater. 
Step 10: The maintenance is working, so continue the procedure until the water draining out is clear. 
Step 11:This process may take several hours depending on the size of the water heater. This procedure will save hundreds of dollars and needless expense replacing this expensive appliance.

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    Note: The DIY Advisor assumes no liability for omissions, errors or the outcome of any jobs. The reader must always exercise reasonable caution, follow current codes and regulations that may apply, and is urged to consult with a licensed contractor if in doubt about any steps on these posts. All names were changed to protect client's privacy. DIY Advisor. Reproduction of site content including photos without permission prohibited. All rights reserved. © Copyright 2011-

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