Hot water heater maintenance includes draining the tank, adding insulation, testing the pressure-relief valve and examining the sacrificial anode rod. Maintaining a water heater helps to lengthen its life span.
Draining the tank several times a year helps to reduce sediment build up. To drain the tank, turn off the cold water supply and attach a garden hose to the drain valve. Pour water from the hose into a bucket until it appears clear. If the water continues to be cloudy, open up the water supply valve for a few seconds to stir up more debris. Repeat the process until the water runs clear.
Test the pressure-relief valve once a year. Quickly discharge the valve two or three times, watching for any leaks.
The sacrificial anode rod requires inspection every three years. It can be removed by loosening the hex head screw. Replace the rod if it is covered with calcium deposits, is less than 1/2-inch thick or 6 inches or more of the core steel wire is exposed.
Energy efficiency may be improved by insulating older units with a fiberglass jacket. It is important to avoid the flue when putting insulation on the water heater. Insulating the hot and cold water pipes is also helpful.