How to Maximise the Life of your Hot Water Tank
Replacing a defective hot water system is not only expensive, it’s incredibly inconvenient. If you’ve recently had to endure the process of installing a new hot water tank, chances are you’re not too keen to repeat the process.
Luckily, maintenance procedures for hot water tanks are very easy to carry out, and they greatly reduce the chance of your tank failing without warning and leaving you with a week’s worth of freezing cold showers.
Replace the Sacrificial Anode
The sacrificial anode is a metal rod (usually made of aluminium or magnesium) that protects your tank from corrosion through cathodic protection.
The way it works is that, essentially, the anode material is more prone to corrosion than the tank material (steel). As long as the aluminum anode is suffering corrosion, the tank is left untouched, hence the name ‘sacrificial’. However, this does mean that the anode has a limited lifespan, and as soon as the anode is fully corroded, the tank is left unprotected.
Needless to say, your hot water tank won’t last long without a functioning sacrificial anode. How often you should replace your anode will depend on the manufacturer’s recommendation; usually, you can expect to replace it every 3-5 years. Make sure to hire a qualified professional to do this for you, as hot water tanks are usually attached directly to the gas or electricity supply (extremely dangerous around water), so this is definitely not a job you should carry out yourself.
Check the Pressure Relief Valve
The pressure relief valve is the valve on the front of your tank that acts as a safety mechanism – in the event that too much pressure builds up within the tank, the valve will open and let the pressure out. If the valve is not functioning correctly, the tank is at risk of exploding.
Check the valve a couple of times a year to make sure it is functioning properly. This is a simple process – simply turn off the electricity going to the tank (or the gas if it’s a gas heater), shut off the cold water inlet, and position a bucket underneath the valve.
Now, simply pull the trip leaver on the valve. If the valve is functioning as intended, you will hear a rush of air and see some vapour exit the valve.
If the valve is not functioning as intended, have it replaced as soon as possible.
Inspect for Leaks and Drips
You should regularly inspect your tank for leaks and drips. More often than not, leaks and drips are caused by a fault with the water supply equipment, usually a worn-down component in the supply hose. These issues are easily fixable with plumbers tape.
However, if you notice a drip coming from the pressure relief valve, this could be an indicator of a number of problems. In this case, make sure to bring in a professional plumber to inspect the tank and assess the situation.