How to Properly Maintain Your Hot Water System

Hot water is an essential component of any modern home. From bathing to doing dishes to washing clothes, you most likely use your hot water system each and every day. Because of this, you'll want to keep it in top working order so you and your family will always have access to hot water when you need it most.

Rather than waiting until something breaks to take care of your system, the best way to keep it running smoothly is to practice regular care and maintenance. Here's everything you need to know to get the job done right:

Identify the Type of System You Have

The care and servicing you'll need to provide depends on the type of system your home is equipped with. There are two primary types of hot water systems: tank systems and continuous flow systems. In general, tank systems require more maintenance than their continuous flow counterparts. This is because continuous flow systems don't actually store any water. It is less likely that pressure will build up within the system.

Because the pressure build-up is what causes many of the most common problems with hot water systems, continuous flow systems don't require as much ongoing care. That is not to say they are maintenance-free, just that they are a bit easier to care for. Since tank systems require more maintenance, we will focus on their care for the rest of this article.

Maintaining the Pressure Reducing Valve

The pressure reducing valve controls the water pressure on the inlet side of your hot water tank. Fluctuations in the water pressure can put unnecessary strain on the lining of your tank so it is crucial that you keep this part in working order. It will need to be replaced periodically. Check with the manufacturer to determine the appropriate replacement schedule for your particular part, as the estimated life span can vary between brands. If your pressure reducing valve is not operating correctly, it can affect the functioning of the temperature pressure relief valve as well.

Maintaining the Temperature Pressure Relief Valve

The temperature pressure relief valve, or TPR valve, is another critical component of your hot water system. The primary purpose of this valve is to release internal tank pressure. The TPR valve works by automatically venting some of the hot water in your tank if either the temperature or the pressure inside the tank gets too high. If left unchecked, this build-up of pressure can cause your tank to crack, split or even explode, which can result in incredibly costly repairs. You'll want to ensure that this component is working properly at all times.

You can test your TPR valve yourself to ensure it is working properly. If you do this, be sure to take proper precautions to protect yourself because the water will be extremely hot. Wear long pants and sleeves and ensure that your feet and hands are covered. If you notice any leaking water around the valve, it will need to be replaced. If all is clear, you can proceed with opening the valve. Stand back to avoid the water spray as you lift the valve's handle. It should lift easily. If it does not, that is another sign that it needs to be replaced.

Once you have opened the valve, hot water will begin to flow out of the outlet pipe. To stop the flow, close the handle on the valve. If the water continues to flow after it is closed, your TPR valve probably isn't working as it should and will need to be replaced.

Although the exact timing varies by brand, in most cases, you'll want to check your valve about every six months. Typically, it will need to be replaced about every two years. When it needs to be replaced, it is best to employ the services of a certified hot water technician for your safety.

Maintaining the Sacrificial Anode

The third part that you'll need to regularly maintain is the sacrificial anode. This is a magnesium rod inside your system that works to prevent your tank and pipes from rusting. When it has reached the end of its useful life, after about five years, your system will rapidly rust if it is not replaced quickly. Allowing the sacrificial anode to fall into disrepair is the most common cause of hot water system issues, so this is one of the most important things for you to maintain. Replacing the anode is another job that should be handled by a professional.

Hot Water System Service You Can Trust

For hot water service and repairs, contact RD Plumbing & Gas. We are highly experienced and can handle any issues you may have. We can have your hot water system back up and running in no time.
To keep that hot water flowing smoothly, we recommend regular maintenance appointments to ensure that all of the parts discussed above are working as they should. Our technicians are all fully licensed and insured for your peace of mind. We offer our services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so there is no excuse for neglecting to keep your hot water system properly maintained. Get in touch with us today to schedule an appointment.