Preventative Maintenance for Your Water Heater: A How-To Guide

By Brian on May 16, 2024


Water heater maintenance service is crucial for ensuring you have reliable hot water year-round and avoiding unexpected icy showers. Here’s what you need to know right away:

  • Regular Maintenance: Helps extend the lifespan of your water heater and prevents costly repairs.
  • Increased Efficiency: Keeps your unit running efficiently, saving on energy bills.
  • Prevents Breakdowns: Regular check-ups can catch minor problems before they become major issues.
  • Safety: Ensures your water heater operates safely without leaks or electrical problems.

Taking care of your water heater through regular maintenance can mean the difference between a warm, comfortable shower and an unexpected cold blast. Think of it this way—just as a car needs oil changes and tune-ups, your water heater also needs consistent care to perform its best.

Proper maintenance can significantly extend the lifespan of your water heater. While a standard water heater lasts about 8-12 years, keeping up with maintenance can make it last even longer. This translates to savings on early replacements and repairs.

By investing a little time in maintenance, you ensure that your water heater remains efficient, safe, and reliable for all your hot water needs.

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Regular Maintenance Schedule

Maintaining your water heater is crucial for ensuring it runs efficiently and lasts as long as possible. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to do:


Regular inspections help catch problems early. Look for signs of corrosion, leaks, or unusual noises. Even minor issues can become major headaches if left unchecked.

Tip: Schedule an annual professional inspection to catch issues you might miss.

Flushing the Tank

Over time, sediment builds up in your tank, reducing efficiency and causing noises. Draining and flushing the tank at least once a year helps remove this sediment.

  1. Turn off the heater: For electric heaters, switch off the power. For gas heaters, turn the gas valve to “pilot.”
  2. Connect a hose: Attach a garden hose to the drain valve.
  3. Drain the tank: Open the valve and let the water flow out. Be careful; the water will be hot!

Anode Rod

The anode rod prevents tank corrosion by attracting elements that cause rust. Check it annually and replace it if it’s heavily corroded.

Quick Check: If you see rust-colored water or smell bad odors, it might be time to replace the anode rod.

T&P Valve

The Temperature & Pressure (T&P) valve ensures your tank doesn’t overheat or build up too much pressure. Test it annually by lifting the valve lever. If water flows out, it’s working. If not, it needs replacing.

  1. Turn off the heater and let it cool.
  2. Lift the lever: If water flows, it’s good. If not, replace the valve.


Proper ventilation is essential for gas water heaters to prevent dangerous gas buildup. Ensure vents are clear of obstructions and inspect them for damage or blockages.

Pro Tip: Install a carbon monoxide detector near your water heater for added safety.


Setting your thermostat correctly not only saves energy but also prevents scalding. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting it to 120°F.

Check: Test the water temperature and adjust the thermostat if needed.


Insulating your water heater and pipes can improve efficiency, especially in colder climates. Use an insulating blanket designed for water heaters and ensure you don’t cover the thermostat or burner.

Easy DIY: Wrap the tank, but leave the top and bottom open to prevent overheating.

By following this regular maintenance schedule, you can keep your water heater in top shape, ensuring it runs efficiently and lasts longer. Up next, we’ll discuss how often your water heater should be serviced based on its type.

How Often Should Your Water Heater Be Serviced?

Servicing your water heater regularly is essential to keep it running efficiently and prolong its lifespan. However, the frequency of service depends on the type of water heater you have. Let’s break it down by heater type:

Continuous Flow (Tankless) Water Heaters

Continuous flow or tankless water heaters heat water on demand, which means they don’t store hot water in a tank. These systems are generally more efficient but still require regular maintenance to stay in top condition.

Service Frequency: Annually

  • Descaling: Mineral build-up can occur, especially in areas with hard water. Annual descaling helps prevent this.
  • Filter Cleaning: Check and clean the inlet screen filter to ensure water flow isn’t obstructed.
  • Vent Inspection: Ensure the venting system is clear and functioning properly.

Solar Water Heaters

Solar water heaters use solar panels to heat water, making them an eco-friendly option. They have unique components that require specific maintenance.

Service Frequency: Every 6 months to 1 year

  • Panel Inspection: Check solar panels for debris and clean them to ensure maximum sunlight absorption.
  • Antifreeze Check: If your system uses antifreeze, inspect and replace it as needed.
  • Pump and Controller Check: Ensure the pump and controller are working correctly to circulate the heated water.

Heat Pump Water Heaters

Heat pump water heaters use electricity to move heat from the air or ground to heat water. They are energy-efficient but have specific maintenance needs.

Service Frequency: Annually

  • Filter Cleaning: Clean or replace air filters to maintain airflow and efficiency.
  • Condenser Coil Cleaning: Clean the condenser coils to ensure the system operates efficiently.
  • Inspect Drainage: Ensure the condensate drain is clear to prevent water damage.

Electric/Gas Storage Water Heaters

Electric and gas storage water heaters are the most common types found in homes. They store hot water in a tank and require regular maintenance to prevent issues like sediment build-up.

Service Frequency: Every 6 months to 1 year

  • Sediment Flushing: Flush the tank to remove sediment build-up that can reduce efficiency and lifespan.
  • Anode Rod Inspection: Check the anode rod every 3 years and replace it if it’s corroded to prevent tank rust.
  • Pressure Relief Valve Check: Test the T&P valve to ensure it’s functioning correctly and replace it if necessary.
  • Thermostat Check: Ensure the thermostat is set correctly and functioning to maintain the desired water temperature.

Regular servicing of your water heater, tailored to its type, can save you from unexpected breakdowns and costly repairs. Next, we’ll dive into DIY maintenance tips for homeowners, so you can handle some of the upkeep yourself.

DIY Maintenance Tips for Homeowners

Taking care of your water heater can seem daunting, but with a few simple steps, you can handle some of the upkeep yourself. Here are some DIY maintenance tips to keep your water heater running smoothly.

Sediment Flushing

Over time, sediment can build up in your water heater tank, reducing efficiency and causing rumbling noises.

  • How to Flush the Tank:
  • Turn off the power or gas supply to the water heater.
  • Connect a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank.
  • Place the other end of the hose in a safe drainage area.
  • Open the drain valve and let the water run until it’s clear.
  • Close the valve, remove the hose, and turn the power or gas supply back on.

Flushing the tank annually helps maintain efficiency and prolongs the life of your water heater.

Thermostat Checks

Ensuring your thermostat is set correctly can save energy and prevent scalding.

  • Steps to Check the Thermostat:
  • Electric Water Heater: Turn off the power, remove the access panel, and use a screwdriver to adjust the thermostat to 120°F.
  • Gas Water Heater: Locate the control knob on the front of the unit and adjust it to the desired temperature.

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting your water heater to 120°F for optimal balance between comfort and safety.

Leak Detection

Leaks can lead to significant damage if left unchecked. Regularly inspect your water heater for any signs of leaks.

  • Signs of a Leak:
  • Puddles or damp spots around the base of the tank.
  • Rust or corrosion on the tank or pipes.
  • A drop in water pressure or unexpected water bills.

If you detect a leak, it’s best to call a professional immediately to prevent further damage.

Pilot Light

For gas water heaters, the pilot light is crucial for operation. If it goes out, your water heater won’t function.

  • Relighting the Pilot Light:
  • Turn off the gas supply.
  • Wait a few minutes for any residual gas to dissipate.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to relight the pilot light, usually involving holding a gas control valve and igniting the pilot.

If the pilot light won’t stay lit, it could indicate a problem with the thermocouple or gas supply, requiring professional assistance.

Insulation Techniques

Insulating your water heater can improve efficiency, especially in colder climates.

  • How to Insulate:
  • Water Heater Blanket: Purchase an insulating blanket designed for water heaters. Wrap it around the tank, securing it with tape. Be careful not to cover the thermostat or any vents.
  • Pipe Insulation: Insulate the first 6 feet of both the hot and cold water pipes connected to the heater.

Insulating your water heater reduces heat loss, saving energy and reducing utility bills.

By following these DIY maintenance tips, you can keep your water heater in good condition and avoid unexpected breakdowns. However, some tasks are best left to professionals. For more complex issues or routine professional maintenance, consider scheduling a water heater maintenance service with Go Pro Plumbing.

Next, we’ll explore the benefits of professional water heater maintenance services and when to call a professional.

Professional Water Heater Maintenance Service

Maintaining your water heater is crucial for its longevity and efficiency. While DIY maintenance can handle basic tasks, professional water heater maintenance services offer a range of benefits that ensure your unit operates optimally.

Benefits of Professional Maintenance

1. Expertise and Precision
Professional technicians have the expertise to diagnose and fix issues that may not be apparent to the untrained eye. They can identify potential problems early, preventing costly repairs or replacements.

2. Comprehensive Inspection
Professionals perform thorough inspections, including checking the heating elements, thermostat, and pressure relief valve. This ensures all components are functioning correctly.

3. Safety Assurance
Handling gas lines, electrical connections, and water systems can be risky. Professionals ensure that all safety protocols are followed, reducing the risk of accidents.

4. Efficiency Enhancement
Regular professional maintenance can improve your water heater’s efficiency, leading to lower energy bills. For instance, a tankless water heater, known for its energy efficiency, still requires periodic professional maintenance to stay in top condition.

5. Warranty Protection
Most water heater manufacturers require proof of regular professional maintenance to honor warranties. This means that neglecting professional service could void your warranty.

When to Call a Professional

1. Strange Noises
If your water heater makes unusual noises, it could indicate sediment buildup or other issues. A professional can diagnose and resolve the problem.

2. Leaks
Leaking water heaters can cause significant damage. If you notice any leaks, call a professional immediately.

3. Inconsistent Water Temperature
Fluctuating water temperatures can be a sign of a failing thermostat or heating element. A professional can identify and fix the issue.

4. Annual Maintenance
Even if your water heater appears to be working fine, an annual professional maintenance check can catch potential problems early.

Go Pro Plumbing

At Go Pro Plumbing, we understand the importance of a well-maintained water heater. Our team of skilled technicians offers top-notch water heater maintenance services. Here’s what sets us apart:

1. Same-Day Service
We know how crucial a functioning water heater is to your daily routine. That’s why we offer same-day service for urgent issues.

2. Customer Satisfaction
Our commitment to customer satisfaction is unwavering. As one of our satisfied customers, Mike Accer, stated, “Go Pro Plumbing helped me and my family in an emergency situation and got the job done quickly.”

3. Transparent Pricing
We provide up-front, fair pricing with no hidden fees. You’ll know the cost before any work begins.

4. Quality Work
Our work is backed by warranties, ensuring you receive the best service possible.

5. Convenient Scheduling
With our easy online scheduler, you can book an appointment at your convenience. Simply tell us your location, the nature of the problem, and your preferred time, and we’ll handle the rest.

By choosing Go Pro Plumbing for your water heater maintenance service, you ensure your unit remains in excellent condition, saving you time, money, and stress.

Next, we’ll discuss common water heater issues and how to address them.

Common Water Heater Issues and How to Address Them

Even with regular maintenance, your water heater can still encounter problems. Here are some common issues and tips on how to address them:

Heating Element Failure

Symptom: No hot water or water that doesn’t get hot enough.

Solution: The heating element in your water heater might be faulty. This is common in electric water heaters. If you suspect this, a professional can test the element and replace it if necessary.

“A broken heating element is often the culprit when there’s no hot water,” says All Masters Plumbing.

Thermostat Issues

Symptom: Water that is too hot or too cold.

Solution: Check the thermostat settings. For electric water heaters, there may be two thermostats (one for each heating element). Adjust the settings to see if this solves the issue. If not, the thermostat might need to be replaced.

Tip: Always ensure the power is off before inspecting or adjusting the thermostat.

Pressure Relief Valve Problems

Symptom: Water leaking from the valve or water heater tank.

Solution: The pressure relief valve is a safety feature that releases water if the tank pressure gets too high. If it’s leaking, it could be due to high pressure or a faulty valve. Have a professional inspect and replace it if needed.

“You can’t seal a leak with a handy roll of duct tape. Let the professionals fix your water heater so that it doesn’t result in the need for complete replacement,” advises All Masters Plumbing.


Symptom: Water pooling around the water heater.

Solution: Leaks can be due to several issues, such as a faulty pressure relief valve, loose connections, or a corroded tank. Inspect the connections and valves. If the tank itself is leaking, it might be time for a replacement.

Important: If you suspect a leak, call a professional immediately to prevent further damage.

Strange Noises

Symptom: Popping, rumbling, or whining sounds from the water heater.

Solution: These noises are often caused by sediment build-up at the bottom of the tank. Flushing the tank can help remove the sediment and resolve the noise issue.

Tip: Regularly flushing your water heater can prevent sediment build-up and extend its lifespan.

Gas Leaks

Symptom: Smell of gas near the water heater.

Solution: This is a serious issue and requires immediate attention. Turn off the gas supply and call a professional right away. Do not attempt to fix gas leaks on your own.

“Water heaters that run on natural gas or propane can have issues with the gas pilot light or other gas components,” notes Go Pro Plumbing.

By understanding these common issues and their solutions, you can ensure your water heater remains in good working condition.

Next, we’ll conclude with the importance of regular maintenance and why choosing Go Pro Plumbing for professional service is a smart choice.


Regular maintenance is crucial for the longevity and efficiency of your water heater. By keeping up with a water heater maintenance service schedule, you can prevent unexpected breakdowns and extend the lifespan of your unit. Regular checks and services ensure that your water heater operates at peak efficiency, providing you with consistent hot water and reducing energy costs.

Choosing Go Pro Plumbing for professional service is a smart investment in your home’s comfort and efficiency. Our experienced technicians are well-versed in handling all types of water heaters, from traditional tank models to modern tankless systems. We offer comprehensive maintenance plans that include regular inspections, flushing the tank, checking the anode rod, and testing the T&P valve and thermostat.

With Go Pro Plumbing, you can expect:

  • Expertise and Experience: Our team has experience in diagnosing and fixing water heater issues promptly and effectively.
  • Convenience: Our online scheduler makes it easy to book an appointment that fits your schedule.
  • Transparent Pricing: We provide upfront pricing with no hidden fees, so you know exactly what to expect.
  • Customer Satisfaction: We are committed to delivering outstanding customer service and ensuring your complete satisfaction.

Don’t wait for a cold shower to remind you of the importance of water heater maintenance. Schedule your regular maintenance with Go Pro Plumbing and enjoy peace of mind knowing your water heater is in top shape.

Contact us today to learn more about our water heater maintenance services and how we can help keep your home’s hot water flowing smoothly.

Category: Home Maintenance