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Water Heater Maintenance Checklist

Use a hot water heater maintenance checklist to prolong the life of the water heater and boost its performance.

What is a water heater maintenance checklist?

Using the following hot water heater maintenance checklist will ensure that all the essential steps are followed in performing regular preventive maintenance, helping to prolong the life and efficiency of water heaters in residential or commercial buildings. Contractors can do these inspections and maintenance, building managers, plumbers, or skilled homeowners.

There are two categories into which maintenance checklists for water heaters can be divided – water heaters with tank and devices without tank. Following our handy electric and gas water heater maintenance checklist will ensure that all vital maintenance points are covered, and that the maintenance check is done safely.

This article covers the following topics:

1. Benefits using a water heater maintenance checklist

2. Step-by-step checklist for units with tanks

3. Step-by-step checklist for units without tanks

4. More effective water heater maintenance with Lumiform

Benefits of using a water heater maintenance checklist

It is generally recommended that water heater maintenance checks are done once a year. Using our comprehensive, step-by-step hot water heater maintenance checklist will ensure that:

  • No vital checks are omitted during this process
  • The correct order is followed, and
  • All steps and procedures are performed safely

Experts also recommend that water heaters be drained and thoroughly flushed at least once (preferably twice) a year to remove scale. Scale is a sediment of natural minerals like magnesium and calcium that forms and settles in the tank during the heating process. This reduces the water heater’s efficiency, can create fluctuating temperatures, and raise energy bills.

Regular preventative maintenance using our electric and gas water heater maintenance checklist will also prolong the water heater’s life, thereby saving money. In addition, it will allow you to pick up on minor, easy-to-correct problems before they become major headaches – or just cold showers.

Step-by-step electric and gas water heater maintenance checklist for units with tanks

A water heater (or geyser) may be an electrical or a gas unit, and it may have a tank or be a tankless unit. A hot water heater is expected to last from 8 – 13 years. Remember that regular maintenance will improve a water heater’s longevity and performance.

Here’s our comprehensive step-by-step water heater maintenance checklist for models with tanks:

STEP 1: Turn off the heat

This applies whether the tank is electric or gas, and should ideally be done the night before so the water is not too hot.

STEP 2: Check all the valves, including temperature and pressure (T&P) valves

The pressure relief valve is an important safety mechanism that prevents the water heater from exploding should too much pressure or steam build up inside the tank.

There will be a switch on the side of the water heater, with a plastic or copper discharge pipe leading down to a drainage pan connected to a drainage site. The valve will open automatically to release the pressure when it gets too high in the tank.

Test the pressure relief valve as follows:

  • Place a bucket under the discharge pipe.
  • Lift the lever.
  • If water runs out of the pipe, everything is in order.
  • Close the valve by using the lever.
  • If you can’t open the valve by lifting the lever, or if the valve is still leaking after you’ve tested it, the pressure relief valve has to be replaced.

STEP 3: Check for leaks

Apply a solution of dish-washing soap and warm water to all joints and pipes and see if bubbles appear. This will indicate a leak that needs to be fixed. Also, check for any loose fasteners, screws, nuts, bolts, as well defective gaskets.

STEP 4:Check and replace the anode rod if needed

Both gas and electric water heaters will have an anode rod, which is a tube of either magnesium, zinc, or aluminum. The anode rod is a ‘sacrificial’ device designed to prolong the water heater’s life by deliberately attracting corrosive minerals to itself, so the rod rather than the tank is corroded.

If the rod is severely corroded, it should be replaced. Flexible rods are available for water heaters in constricted spaces. A pipe thread sealant must be used on the threads because plumber’s tape renders the rod less efficient.

STEP 5: Drain and flush the water heater to remove any scale buildup and sediment

  • Close the valve of the incoming water feed.
  • Run the water out by connecting a hose to the drain valve.
  • Rusty water may indicate the need for a new water heater.
  • Open a hot water tap inside the building to get air into the tank.
  • Once the tank is empty, find the clean-hole.
  • Use a strong flashlight to check for scale, sediment, rust, or any other damage.
  • Use hot water to flush out the tank.
  • Finally, turn on the cold water feed and let the cold water run till it is completely clear of sediment.

STEP 6: Refill the tank

  • Ensure all the valves are closed.
  • Turn the incoming water feed back on and refill the tank.
  • Turn down the temperature if it is set higher than 60°C or 140°F.

Step-by-step electric and gas water heater maintenance checklist for units without tanks

Tankless water heaters don’t store water in a tank but heat water on demand. However, they still need regular maintenance. Here is our hot water heater maintenance checklist for tankless water heaters:

1. Flush the water heater

  • Turn off the electricity or gas.
  • Turn off the cold-water feed to the unit.
  • Shut off the hot water valve that feeds hot water from the unit to the building.
  • Connect a garden hose to the outlet of the sump pump, and to the water heater’s cold-water isolation valve.
  • Connect a second length of garden hose to the water heater’s hot-water isolation valve.
  • Place the end of this hose and the pump in a large bucket.
  • Fill the bucket with food-grade white vinegar.
  • Open the hot and cold isolation valves of the water heater.
  • Turn on the pump and allow the vinegar to circulate through the water heater for 45 minutes.
  • Turn off the pump.
  • Discard the used vinegar and fill the bucket with clean water.
  • Turn on the pump and let the clean water circulate through the water heater for at least 5 minutes.

2. Clean the air intake filter while the unit is being flushed

  • Remove the water heater’s faceplate and remove the filter.
  • Rinse the filter thoroughly with clean water.
  • Dry it thoroughly with a soft, clean cloth.
  • Reinstall the filter.

3. Reconnect the water heater

  • Disconnect the hoses and make sure all service caps are screwed on tightly.
  • Open both the hot and the cold-water valves.
  • Check for and ensure there are no leaks.
  • Switch the gas or the power back on.

More Effective Water Heater Maintenance with Lumiform

Lumiform is a powerful mobile inspection app that helps technicians, building managers and homeowners effectively use digital checklists for water heater maintenance. Using pen and paper for regular water heater maintenance can be tedious and time-consuming. Lumiform puts an end to this: maintenance tasks can be planned, recorded and documented digitally. Why not switch to a digital tool that makes the job easier?

The five most important advantages that Lumiform brings to water heater maintenance work:

  • Ready-made templates for maintenance work to get start easy with digital checklists.
  • Schedule regular water heater maintenance with the app and receive notifications about upcoming appointments and missed jobs.
  • Take photos of problems and annotate them to better describe the nature of the problem found during maintenance.
  • Maintenance reports can be created on the spot and sent immediately to supervisors or clients.
  • All maintenance and inspection documents are stored in a cloud-based database for added convenience and security.

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