If it's doing its job, you don't give it a second thought. But...when hot water is elusive for your morning shower and that sink full of dishes, or even worse, its contents are inches deep on the floor and seeping through the walls, your water heater has your full attention.
The average life span of a water heater is about 10 years. Rusting and build up of sediment in the tank could shorten its life while some preventative maintenance may extend it.
How to make life a little easier on your water heater?
· Twice a year, drain a bucket of water from your hot water storage tank until it runs clear (about five gallons). This removes sediment that absorbs heat energy and causes the unit to waste fuel. Be sure to check your appliance's owner's manual for instructions.
· Anti-corrosion anode rods in your water heater protect against rusting. The anode attracts corrosion that would otherwise attack the tank's wall. Having a plumber replace the anodes every three to four years could add to the life of your tank.
· Strapping your water heater to the wall studs can help to keep it from breaking loose of its connections during an earthquake. Insulating the storage tank and pipes can help reduce heat loss. Kits and materials for both these projects can be found at hardware stores or home improvement centers.
· For gas-fueled water heaters, check the flue assembly twice a year to be sure it's properly aligned and all its joints are sealed. If you ever smell gas, leave your house immediately and call your gas company for help.