Keeping tabs on your water heater’s condition means fewer surprise
cold showers

Your water heater provides you with warmth and stability and will do so for a longer period of time
if you maintain it properly. According to the Federal Home Loan and Mortgage Corporation, you can
expect a gas water heater to last up to twelve years. Routine maintenance will maximize its life.

Most water heaters are gas-powered. According to the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program, heating
water accounts for approximately 15 percent of a home’s energy use. A high-efficiency water heater
uses 10–50 percent less energy than a standard heater. Most water heaters have a storage tank, which
is an insulated tank (30–80 gallons for the majority of homes) full of hot water. These tanks incur
standby losses from energy used to keep this water heated whether it’s being used or not. Less
popular on-demand, or tankless, water heaters heat water as it passes through a heating mechanism
instead of storing it in a tank.

Checking the Pilot Light

If a gas water heater stops providing hot water, check the pilot light.

Gas water heaters have pilot lights, rather than electronic ignitions, to help maintain the tank’s water temperature.

When an electric water heater cools down, be sure the breaker hasn’t tripped; check the high temperature cutoff in the water
heater (open the panel and push the reset button).

Follow the steps posted on the side of the tank when relighting a gas pilot light.

Other Checks

Even minor maintenance should extend the life of a water tank.

Emptying a few buckets full of water from the drain valve at the bottom of the tank will alert you to the presence of rust (suggests
the anode rod needs replacement).

Test the pressure release valve (a safety device) once a year, but be forewarned testing it might reveal the valve needs

Electric heaters will take longer to heat up than gas models.

Sometimes a water heater will let you know the relationship is tinning lukewarm, and you’ll know
it’s time to step in and patch things up. Keep close tabs on the heater to see if repairs are needed.
Some minor monitoring and maintenance will keep it going for years.


A water heater’s temperature can be set as high as 160 degrees but is typically factory set at
120. Extremely hot water can scald. If your water heater has a “vacation” setting on its
temperature knob, set it if you’ll be away for five days or more to lower your energy bill.


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