Hot Water Tank

The average life of a residential hot water system is just over 10 years. However, depending on the area where the water is more acidic and contains too much magnesium, the average lifespan of hot water tanks drop significantly. This drastic drop happens not only because of the water but also because of poor maintenance, including the lack of knowledge of the role of the sacrificial anode. However, it is an essential component of the water heater because it prolongs its life by preventing the corrosive effects of water in the tank.

How to maintain your hot water tank?

The internal walls of hot water tanks may be vitrified to prevent the formation of rust but sooner or later the tank is destined to malfunction. In addition, some states soften the drinking water by chemical treatment, which can have a noticeable influence on the longevity of the water heater. Indeed, artificially softened water is very corrosive because this process removes calcium and magnesium ions and replaces them with sodium ions, accelerating the dissolution rate of the anode. It is therefore recommended to inspect the condition of the anode annually and make any necessary changes.

How does anode work?

When two different types of metal are in contact with water, the least active remains intact while the other corrodes. It is an inevitable electrochemical reaction that can be used in our favour by using a sacrificial anode to protect the hot water tank; magnesium or aluminium are often used because they are less active than regular steel which tanks are made of. While they corrode, the tank remains healthy.

Under certain conditions, the anode will react by producing tinted and/or smelly water. The most common smell is rotten eggs. This phenomenon (hydrogen sulphite) is the result of a reaction of the anode in contact with sulphurous water, most often from a well. This problem can be stopped or greatly reduced by changing the magnesium anode by an aluminium anode and cleaning the water heater.

In order to solve the problem definitively, it may be necessary to install suitable filtration equipment or to opt for an anode with an imposed current. This type of anode offers optimal protection against corrosion, preventing it inside all types of hot water tanks that it runs on oil, gas or electricity.

Safety valve must be maintained!

Also known as a temperature and pressure safety valve, it is an essential and mandatory element that must be installed on all domestic hot water systems. It is a mechanism that receives the cold water supply of the pipe and that has a valve that triggers to evacuate the water in case of overpressure due to the expansion of the water when heated. During the heating cycle of the water heater, the water undergoes a volume expansion which causes an increase in pressure in the tank. Connected to the cold water inlet and connected to the sewer, the safety valve keeps the safe functioning of the hot water tank.

Flushing and testing a safety valve is rather simple, and something everyone can do. If the valve is leaking water through the outlet pipe, you need to replace it. Testing of the safety valve includes getting some extremely hot water out, so if you’re going to do it yourself, make sure that you’re wearing appropriate clothing.

The importance of descaling

Tartar is the number one enemy of a water heater. By accumulating, this compound will damage the body of the water heater and gradually make its use more and more complicated. A descaling from time to time will be the main maintenance of the water heater. This procedure will optimize its operation and reduce the energy consumption used to operate the equipment appropriately.

To carry out descaling, it will be necessary to follow some important steps. It will, first of all, be necessary to cut off the power supply to the water heater. Once the water heater is no longer powered, you will have to drain all the water then access to the tank.  You should then clean the tank carefully without damaging any parts.

One last tip: Before you service your water heater, check the water heater’s service manual to make sure that the water heater is properly serviced. If you cannot find the manual, you can always search for it online by entering the name and model number of your water heater into a search engine. Otherwise, call Mr Splash Plumbing, and we will be happy to solve your problem cost effectively and easy.