By and large, water heaters are fairly simple machines, ones that don't require a whole lot of regular maintenance. Yet letting your heater languish too long without TLC can lead to time-consuming and expensive problems. This article will introduce two issues that, left unchecked, will eventually destroy your heater.
Virtually all water contains some degree of mineral content. When such minerals--usually magnesium and calcium--are present in high enough quantities, the water is referred to as "hard." Yet even the relatively low mineral content of soft water can cause problems for a water heater over time.
The heating process tends to cause any minerals present in the water to accumulate as a layer of solids at the bottom of the tank. As this layer becomes thicker and thicker, it starts to affect the performance of your heater by absorbing the heat that should be going to your water. Not only will this increase the amount of time the water needs to come up to temperature, but it can also lead to the bottom of your tank "falling out"--sometimes quite literally!
Luckily, it is fairly simple to keep sediment from causing such problems. All you have to do is have your heater flushed approximately once a year. In this process, the heater is turned off, allowed to cool, and then is drained completely. Repeating this process a couple of times is generally sufficient to flush away all of that unwanted mineral build up.
Corrosion poses perhaps the single most significant threat to a water heater. To combat this problem, all water heaters come equipped with a component called the anode rod, or sacrificial rod. The purpose of this rod is to act as a decoy for any corrosive elements present in the water. In other words, the rod constitutes a much more attractive target for corrosion.
As you can imagine, the sacrificial nature of the anode rod means that, over time, it tends to become consumed by corrosion. Eventually it will be eaten away completely. When that time comes, rust and corrosion will once again begin attacking the walls of your tank. Left unchecked, this will result in weak spots, leaks, and other dangerous problems.
To ensure your tank doesn't become an unwitting victim of corrosion, it's important to have your anode rod inspected periodically. Be sure to communicate to your plumber that you would like this performed in conjunction with your annual flush.
For more information, talk to a professional like Valley Plumbing Company.