9 Tips to Maintain Your Hot Water System

Hot water coming out of a tap, causing steam 19

Whether you're in regional NSW or the heart of Sydney, a hot water system is a basic necessity for every household. Water heaters provide clean and hot water for bathing, cleaning, and cooking amongst many other things. 

Because of this, it is vital to have a safe, reliable, and properly maintained hot water system at home, irrespective of your energy source - whether it’s an electric water heater, gas heater, heat pump water heater, or a solar system powered by renewable energy.

Unfortunately, maintaining the hot water unit is something homeowners across Sydney often forget about. As a result, they end up with unexpected hot water breakdowns, costing them a significant amount of money on repairs. 

You see, a hot water system requires regular maintenance just like any other home appliance.

Regular maintenance not only extends the life of your hot water heater but also minimises the chances of breakdowns and enhances its overall energy efficiency. 

That said, let’s look at the most important tips on how to maintain your hot water system to prevent breakdowns, lower energy consumption, and extend its life expectancy. 

9 Tips on How to Maintain a Hot Water System by Yourself

Here are the nine tips you need to keep in mind to maintain your hot water system and keep it intact for longer. 

1. Monitor TPR (Temperature Pressure Relief) Valve Regularly

The function of the Temperature Relief Valve is to release pressure in your hot water system when it builds up too much. 

Too much pressure in a hot water system can cause leaks and even blow up the tank in extreme cases. So, you need to monitor the TPR valve regularly and keep it regulated to keep your hot water system from over-pressuring. 

To check pressure relief valves, put an empty bucket beneath the discharge pipe that is connected to the valve. After the bucket is placed, lift the lever and observe how the water comes out.

If the water comes out and stops when you lower the lever, it means the Temperature Relief valve is functioning as it should. On the other hand, if the water doesn’t come out or there is a notable leakage, it means your TPR valve is not functioning properly and needs to be replaced. 

2. Drain the Water Tank and Wash Out Sediment

Draining the water tank is an important aspect of storage hot water system maintenance because it helps to extend the unit’s longevity. We strongly recommend draining the water tank of your hot water unit at least once every six months.

This is important because it will flush out the build-up of minerals and debris, maintaining the efficiency of your hot water system.

To do this properly, start by shutting down your hot water system and unplugging wires for safety purposes. Afterwards, open the outlet faucet and let the water run out. 

Once the water is drained completely, stir up the sediment from the bottom of the tank’s inside and open the inlet water supply briefly to wash out the sediment. Repeat this process until you see only clean water coming out of the hose. 

Lastly, close the drain faucet, refill the tank, and turn on the power supply.

3. Check the Anode Rod Annually

The sacrificial anode is an important component of a hot water system. It helps to protect your unit from rust and corrosion. 

This metal rod attracts minerals in the water so that they adhere to the rod rather than corroding the inside of the tank. 

It is vital to ensure the sacrificial anode rod is in good condition and functioning properly at least once every year. This is because the corrosive minerals can wreak havoc on the inside of your tank if the anode rod has worn out and you haven’t replaced it in time. 

Usually, the sacrificial anode in a hot water system lasts anywhere from a few years to the full life of the unit. 

4. Insulate your Water Heater Tank

Insulating your hot water tank can serve many purposes. 

For example, a well-insulated tank will prevent heat from escaping, which means your hot water system won’t have to work extra hard to heat the water. As a result, your hot water unit will consume less energy, which will result in lower energy bills.

Apart from avoiding heat loss, insulating your water heater tank can also extend the life expectancy of your unit. 

This is because an insulated tank will reduce the amount of strain that is placed on the tank, making it last longer compared to an uninsulated tank. 

5. Insulate Pipes

Apart from the tank, you should also consider insulating the hot water pipes connected to your system for similar reasons. This will help to maintain the heat of your water, meaning your system doesn’t have to work as hard, especially in the colder months.

In some countries, the cold winter weather can even cause the water inside uninsulated pipes to freeze, which can lead to burst pipes and extensive system damage. This isn’t the case in Australia, but insulating your pipes is still recommended for system efficiency and longevity.

6. Check for Leaks

Checking for leaks may sound obvious but most homeowners often neglect to do it.  

The most important places to check for leaks are pipes, the pressure relief valve, the floor beneath your unit, and near any rusty areas on your hot water system.

Doing a quick leak check every month or so can save you hundreds of dollars in costly repairs due to unnecessary damages.

7. Adjust Water Temperature According to your Needs

By default, most hot water systems are set to a water temperature that is higher than required. This not only results in high energy consumption, but it can actually be dangerous as well. 

The water inside your hot water unit must be stored at 60°C or higher to prevent unhealthy bacteria from growing. However, the water temperature in your home only needs to be around 45-50°C. 

So, if you often find yourself mixing in cold water to reach a comfortable temperature, it’s better to lower the maximum water temperature. To achieve this without exposing your water heater to dangerous bacteria, ask your plumber about tempering valves and thermostatic mixing valves. These valves can be installed to control the temperature coming out of your taps and faucets, ensuring it does not exceed 50°C without affecting the storage temperature in your hot water tank. Doing this will not only lower energy consumption but also eliminate the chance of injury or burns.

8. Clear the Area Around your Unit

This is obvious but giving your hot water system some space so that it can function uninterrupted is important for multiple reasons. 

For starters, clearing the area around your system will allow you to access it for maintenance and other purposes. 

Plus, keeping space around your unit will make it easier to spot water leaks before the damage gets out of control. 

Most importantly, if you’ve got a gas hot water system, it is critical to clear the surrounding area because gas-fired units require a free supply of oxygen to burn the gas. 

If any objects are blocking the surrounding area, the efficiency of your unit may be affected. 

So it is critical to clear the surrounding area and make sure your water heater is easily accessible when required.

9. Don’t Neglect Yearly Licensed Plumber Inspections

Last but not least, remember to schedule yearly maintenance and inspections with a local plumber.

Having regular inspections will help to detect any issues that are hiding below the surface, allowing you to fix them before they cause any significant damage or disruption. 

And while yearly inspections may seem like a waste of money, major problems can (and often do) occur at any time.

Your water heater might be functioning fine one minute and suddenly malfunctioning the next! More importantly, malfunctioning water heaters can sometimes be quite dangerous since they deal with heat, electricity, gas, etc. 

So, it is always better to be safe and leave it to the professionals to conduct a full inspection of your hot water system at least once a year. 

Hot Water Maintenance: Key Takeaways

Effective maintenance of your hot water system is beneficial and can double or triple the lifespan of your unit while reducing energy costs!

Monitoring or checking the condition of your hot water system is a good idea and you can do it yourself. But any kind of repairs or maintenance can be dangerous and void warranties. 

So, it is critical to hire a licenced plumber to conduct the inspection & maintenance of your hot water system.

Whether you have solar hot water, an electric storage water heater, or instantaneous flow gas supply, we can assist you. Contact our local, knowledgeable plumbing technicians for all the assistance you need!

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