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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Indiana
    Posts
    7

    Default gas water heater maintenance

    I need some help with water heater maintenance. Does it have a sacrificial anode rod like the electric heaters? It's 5 years old. Have I waited too long for its maintenance? Does it need to be drained like the electric heater. Is it worth having a plumber come out, or can I do it myself? I'm fairly handy, but feel better when I have a backup plan, especially when it comes to plumbing.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,081

    Default Re: gas water heater maintenance

    Go to your water heater manufacturer's site and read about recommended maintenance.

    After 5 years of not doing anything, it's kind of too late to start now. Most water heaters will last between 7 - 12 years, so you are getting close to the average. I wouldn't worry about it.

    Next time, follow the things the mfg says to do. Most of those you could do yourself.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    northern Indiana
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: gas water heater maintenance

    It is not too late.

    It's anatomy is very similar to an electric heater. It will have a sacrificial anode (or two, depending on brand and model). It also needs to be drained.

    Yes, you should have started sooner - but if your tank hasn't started to rust out yet, you can still prolong its life by replacing that anode and flushing it.

    Note that depending on your water quality and on the presence/absence of a water softener, you may have a significant amount of sediment buildup in the bottom of your tank.

    I would expect that when you turn on your water heater drain, you will not be able to turn it back off - not if you have the standard plastic valve. Go to the hardware store in advance, and buy a short pipe nipple ( 3/4 inch x 3" or 4") and a ball valve. Replacing your plastic valve with this setup this will let you flush much bigger chunks of sediment, and also give you a guaranteed good solid method of shutting the drain when you're done. You may also want to get a garden hose adaptor to go from 3/4" pipe to garden hose - although when I've flushed a REALLY neglected tank, I found that the garden hose was too small diameter for the chunks of sediment and scale I was removing.

    In short - you can probably save your water heater. But, it's probably going to be a fair amount of work, and it's not guaranteed to work. If you can't get enough sediment out, for instance, you may not be able to fit a new anode into the tank.... But, on the other hand, you could potentially spend $50-75 and save yourself hundreds of dollars and suffering.

    Hope this helps!

    p.s. - there's a company ****** that sells a curved dip tube. They claim this makes a swirling action which helps with flushing the tank. They also sell fancy lined pipe nipples, which would be a good idea, if you can afford/stand to wait for shipping.

    V

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,081

    Default Re: gas water heater maintenance

    V,

    What you are saying is true, but may not be cost effective for all water heaters.

    If I had a 5 year old unmaintained WH which is guaranteed for 6 years, I won't be investing anymore money in it. But if the WH was a 9 year or a 12 year unit, then yes.

    I've replaced hundreds of water heaters through the years, and 90% of them were 6 year units.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    northern Indiana
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: gas water heater maintenance

    Quote Originally Posted by dj1 View Post
    V,

    What you are saying is true, but may not be cost effective for all water heaters.

    If I had a 5 year old unmaintained WH which is guaranteed for 6 years, I won't be investing anymore money in it. But if the WH was a 9 year or a 12 year unit, then yes.

    I've replaced hundreds of water heaters through the years, and 90% of them were 6 year units.
    That's fair. I certainly haven't got anything like your level of experience - I've only replaced a couple water heaters, and rehabbed a couple for friends and family who didn't have the money to replace them. I think all but one of them were 6 year units, though.

    However, the way the anode works is that the tank practically cannot rust until the anode is consumed - so if you've still got any anode material left (other than the wire core) then your tank probably isn't rusting yet - if it's not rusting, it's most likely sound. If that's the case - you may not be able to get another 7 years out of it with proper maintenance, but I would expect that you might buy yourself another 2 or 3 at least.

    If you pull the anode rod and it's nothing but a wire - I wouldn't bother either. You've probably got some decent rust spots already, and if you replace the anode you can slow the rust down a bit, but the new anode will get consumed MUCH faster, and you're really throwing money away at that point.

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