banner
How to Choose and Maintain a Water Heater


Choosing a Water Heater

Water heater manufacturers offer a wide array of water heater types, models and efficiencies to meet your needs. Since the choices are many, you can narrow your search first by answering these simple questions.

1. Select the type of water heater.
Learn about the different types of water heaters below to better understand how this heating equipment works to provide your home with hot water.
2. What type of fuel/energy source to be used?
  • Electricity
  • Geothermal
  • Natural gas
  • Oil Propane

3. How much hot water do you use in your home?
Use our worksheet to determine the amount of hot water used in your home. Once you’ve determined the maximum usage of hot water used in one hour during a peak usage period such as the morning, you can find a model with a First Hour Rating matching your peak demand.

4. Will the water heater fit in the space available in your home?
Measure the space where the water heater will be placed including depth, height and width. You also should measure door ways to the area where the water heater will be placed to make sure it make through these entrances.


Water Heater Maintenance

Most people don’t think about their water heaters until they fail. But this important appliance does need occasional maintenance to keep it operating safely, reliably and efficiently. Here are some tips from AHRI on maintaining your water heater.

1. Know its age.
Most water heaters have an expected service life of 10 to 13 years. Preplanning for the end of your water heater’s life is important to helping you make the best and most economical choice for your home.

2. Refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations on maintenance. Not all water heaters are the same, so when it comes to routine maintenance read the manufacturer’s recommendations in your user manual. For storage water heaters, the manufacturer will likely recommend that you check the pressure relief valve every six months and flush the tank every six months, especially if you live in an area with hard water.

3. Maintain your water heater safely. Contacting a qualified heating contractor for regular maintenance is the safest way to maintain your water heater. But if you want to perform your own maintenance, always wear gloves, goggles and other protective clothing while performing maintenance on your water heater.

4. Check the pressure relief valve. The pressure relief valve and drain are conveniently placed for maintenance. Gas and electric storage water heaters have a safety device called a pressure relief valve. In the event the tank over-pressurizes, the relief valve opens and releases the pressure. If the valve does not operate correctly, the tank can over pressurize and explode. To check the pressure valve:
  1. Turn off the electricity to the water heater or turn the gas switch to pilot.
  2. Shut off the cold water inlet to the water heater.
  3. Position the bucket to catch water from the pressure relief valve.
  4. Pull the trip lever on the valve. You should hear a slight rush of air or see some water and vapor exit through the pressure relief valve. If you don't, drain the tank and replace the valve.
5. Flush the tank every six months. Sediment build up in the tank can reduce your water heater's energy efficiency and also clog your water lines. Avoid these problems and increase the life of your unit by flushing the tank each time you check the pressure relief valve. To flush the tank:
  1. Turn off the electricity to the water heater or turn the gas switch to pilot.
  2. Shut off the cold water inlet to the water heater. Water Conservation Tips.
  3. Connect a garden hose to the tank's drain valve.
  4. Locate the draining end of the hose in an area that won't be adversely affected by the scalding hot water.
  5. With the pressure relief valve open, you can now open the drain valve and allow the tank to drain completely. Draining the tank completely ensures that you have removed all possible sediment.
  6. Close the tank drain valve, disconnect the hose from the valve and close the pressure relief valve.
  7. Open all the hot water faucets in the house and turn on the cold water inlet to the tank.
  8. Close each hot water faucet as water begins to flow from it. After all the faucets are closed, turn on the electricity to the water heater or turn the gas switch to "run."