A water heater is one of the big workhorses of your home, but it's also one of the easiest to ignore. When it's well-maintained and running properly, it is almost silent. It's also typically stationed in a basement or utility room, so you don't see it every day. Despite all of this, it does require some maintenance.

Flush the Tank on a Regular Basis

How often this needs to be done depends on your tank and your water supply. For most people, this procedure should take place annually or every six months, but other schedules may be recommended in unique situations. Fortunately, this is a simple job that you can do yourself.

●        Turn off the water heater.

●        Shut off the incoming water at the tank.

●        Attach a hose to the drain spigot at the bottom of the tank.

●        Run the other end of the hose to an area where a few gallons of water won't be a problem.

●        Open a hot water faucet anywhere in the home.

●        Use a flat-head screwdriver to open the drain valve.

●        Let at least six gallons of water run out through the hose.

●        Close the drain valve.

●        Detach the hose.

●        Turn the incoming (cold) water back on at the tank.

●        Watch the hot water spigot that you opened. When you get a steady stream of water, close it.

●        Turn the water heater back on.

This will prevent sediment from accumulating inside the tank and clogging the drain and safety valve. It'll also help prevent undue corrosion inside the tank, and allow the heating elements to maintain their efficiency.

Replace the Anode Rod

In some areas, plumbers recommend replacing the anode rod every few years. This rod helps prevent corrosion of the tank. Replacing it every so often keeps the protection active. Your water quality determines if, and how often, this should be done.

A plumber can be hired to do this, but if you're handy, you can do it yourself by opening the port that says "anode" and switching the old one for the new one. Sometimes, though, there isn't room to lift a rod in and out of a tall tank. In this case, a plumber's help is recommended.

Even with the best maintenance, hot water tanks will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. In that case, be sure to contact Steve's Plumbing and Heating for your new water heater and the latest care tips!