A question I’m often asked is “What do I need to know when servicing a hot water heater?” My response to that question is simple. First, you should know how hot the water is and how hard you push on the hot water heater until it comes to rest. Knowing this information will save you a lot of time and possibly money. If you don’t know this information when servicing your hot water heater, you will be paying someone else to do it. That’s money you could be saving.
Next, if you have any knowledge of electrical work, you should know how to turn off a heater. This step is especially important for gas or propane hot water heaters, because those types of heaters require you to actually unscrew the pilot light to get to the burner. Again, that is time and money well spent by not having to hire a plumber to do it for you.
Before you even turn on the water, it’s advisable to turn the power off at the mains so that there are no chances of any injuries such as burned fingers, hair, burns, etc. You should also make sure any appliances in your home such as washers, dryers, ovens, dishwashers, televisions, computers, etc. are turned off before you start working on your hot water heater. I’m assuming here that you are using a gas or propane fueled heater but if you use electricity, the common precautions you should take would be turning everything off, plugging all electronics in, etc.
Before you do anything else, make sure you know who you are working for. A plumber is likely going to require certain safety gear such as eye protection and long pants. I wouldn’t recommend you doing any type of repair with electric wiring. Always call in a professional if you have any doubts.
It’s a good idea to have an experienced friend or family member come out periodically to check on the hot water unit. In my area, most people call a plumber or general repairman every six months or so for a variety of different issues. It is recommended that the unit be serviced every year or more if there is a lot of use or abuse. However, it’s also good to know that sometimes it is just a simple fix that the plumber can complete in a short amount of time.
I know people who have had their hot water heater for 20 years and barely use any of it. There isn’t a thing wrong with it and they’ve never had to do any servicing at all. They don’t really care what it says on the side, so I wouldn’t advise you to go that route either. I would suggest looking into servicing your hot water heater as a preventative measure to prolonging the life span and preventing you from a lot of added expenses.