Installing a hot water system at home is essential to avoid chilly surprises during early winter mornings!
Besides heating water quickly whenever needed, well-maintained gas water heating systems can help conserve energy (reducing your water and utility bills) and produce fewer greenhouse emissions. Maintaining your hot water systems every five years is recommended, though it is best to check the instruction manual before doing so.
Now, we get it - hot water systems may seem complicated, and yes, beginners should be cautious and perform any repairs or maintenance under supervision. However, effective maintenance of an existing hot water system is relatively straightforward. And today, we’ll be sharing some foolproof methods of doing so!
How To Maintain Your Hot Water System
Before getting started, remember the two main factors that you must consider to conduct the maintenance procedure successfully:
- Sacrificial anode
- Temperature and pressure relief valve (TPR valve)
What Is A Sacrificial Anode?
Most tank-based gas water heating systems feature a “sacrificial anode,” a metal (usually magnesium or aluminium) rod with a zinc coating hanging inside the hot water tank. Its primary function is to attract impurities that may cause reactions and corrosion.
Interestingly, since the rod is metallic, it rusts and deteriorates when coming in contact with the impurities, thereby “sacrificing” its own life for the hot water tank! As a result, replacing the sacrificial anode regularly is imperative for maintaining your hot water system.
When Should You Replace The Sacrificial Anode?
Depending on the type of water and the impurities present, you must change the sacrificial anode every five years. Doing so may even extend the service period of the hot water system by a solid 5-10 years.
Replacing The Sacrificial Anode
Before we get into the procedure, let us warn you that replacing a sacrificial anode isn’t something anyone other than professional plumbers should try. The hot water tank is filled with scalding water and steam and connected to electricity or a gas supply. This equation spells nothing but trouble, so let the professionals handle it.
The cost of hiring a licensed plumber is minimal, considering the energy bills resulting from using an inefficient heater or replacing one. Hence, hiring a qualified plumber to service the hot water system and replace the sacrificial anode as and when required is best.
What Are Temperature And Pressure Relief (TPR) Valves?
Also known as TPR or T&P valves, they “vent” out hot water when the temperature and pressure in the tank system get too high. This is done to prevent explosion, thereby acting as a safety measure.
As such, these valves must be checked and replaced accordingly to prevent your hot water system from malfunctioning.
How To Test The Temperature And Pressure Relief Valve?
This process is relatively easy, and you can probably do it yourself. However, wear protective gear or covered clothes like long pants, gloves, and shoes. The outlet pipe will release hot water while testing the TPR valve. So, even though the process is easy enough for amateurs, you must stay cautious not to hurt yourself.
Here’s a step-wise process of testing the TPR valve:
- Ensure that the surface beneath the outlet pipe is free from obstruction, and stand as far as possible from the end of the pipe
- Try moving the handle on the TPR valve, but don’t force it
- If the handle does not move, it’s best to replace it
- If you lift the handle, the outlet pipe will release hot water.
- The water should stop turning the valve to its “close” position; the TPR valve must be replaced.
How Often Should You Check And Replace TPR Valves?
Generally, TPR valves should be tested once every six months. However, it is best to consult the manufacturer about it.
It would be best to do that every two years regarding replacements. This is because TPR valves offer a limited service life. Here, we also recommend asking the manufacturer when to replace the valves.
Check The Thermostat
Besides checking the sacrificial anode and the TPR valves, noting the temperature on the thermostat can give you a fair idea about the condition of your gas hot water unit. Ideally, the water heater should maintain a temperature of 60°C to avoid scalding and high energy bills.
So, if the water coming from the faucets is not the ideal temperature mentioned above, chances are your water heater is malfunctioning. Alternatively, your water heater may have built-up sediment or uninsulated parts that may lose heat.
When Should You Call A Plumber For Hot Water System Maintenance
1. Smell Of Gas
If you notice any foul, gas-like odour, it is time to act fast! Turn off any gas sources and put off the flames if it is safe. Do not operate any electric switches or devices, and stay in a safe spot. After that, call a plumber or gas fitter immediately.
2. Temperature Fluctuations
In the case of storage tank systems, gradual temperature fluctuations can be expected, but not in a tankless continuous flow system. Additionally, constant leaking and pressure release from the valve/pipe are not ideal for tank systems.
So, in all these cases, you must call a professional and licensed plumber to do the job.
Ensure Optimal Performance: Maintaining Gas Hot Water Systems
It is strange how a malfunctioning gas hot water system (or any device or fixture) goes out at the most inconvenient times! So, regular servicing and maintenance are ways to avoid unpleasant surprises in the shower.
Whether you gradually notice the heater not heating water adequately or suddenly hear strange knocking sounds from the heater - call Woolf Plumbing & Gas. We have a team of experienced and licensed plumbers in Perth equipped with the latest tools to offer you five-star services. Plus, we follow an upfront pricing policy with no call-out fee.
So, book an appointment with Woolf Plumbing & Gas and join the pack today!