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Three Water Heater Tank Problems Professional Maintenance Can Correct Before They Become Serious

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You've probably been hearing all your life that regular maintenance can help prevent problems and hazardous situations or catch them before they go too far. But with some appliances and systems in your home, you may wonder exactly what problems could possibly be so important that they need regular maintenance by a professional. 
For example, if you're not experienced in the field yourself, you may wonder what could go wrong with your water heater if you don't have it maintained regularly. (And if you're not experienced with water heaters, professional attention is especially important.) Here are three problems that professional maintenance sometimes catch early if conducted on a regular basis.
1. Sacrificial Anode Failure
What is a sacrificial anode and why would it fail? Well, your water heater tank is made of metal and it's constantly in contact with water, so why doesn't it just rust away to nothing? That's where the anode comes in. It's a rod made of metal that rusts even more easily, which means that (because of some cool science) the water goes after it instead of the sides of your tank. 
It's kind of like the character in a movie who runs in the other direction, screaming, in order to draw the zombies away from the rest of the group. You know they're not going to make it; but, because of them, maybe the rest of the characters will.
So because this anode is constantly in the process of corroding away, it will eventually have nothing left to offer. A water heater that's neglected for a few years may end up completely unprotected, which means the sides of the tank will start rusting away. Regular maintenance ensures this doesn't happen, which grants your water heater a much longer life.
2. Sediment Buildup in Tank 
Some areas of the country have more particulate matter and minerals in the water than others do. Hard water is especially full of minerals, which can be problematic where your water heater is concerned. That's because when heated, the minerals can more easily separate out of the water, which can form a sediment layer on the bottom of your tank.
This sediment layer cuts off water circulation, effectively walling off the bottom of the tank from the top. True, water can still get through, but the bottom of the tank is isolated from the protection of the sacrificial anode at the top of the tank. This means that, just like a neglected tank, a tank with too much sediment can easily rust through.
Other problems sediment can cause over time include:
  • Burned-out elements
  • Shorter water heater life expectancy 
  • Lowered efficiency
  • Clogged outlets such as drain valve
  • Localized overheating (damages lining or sides of tank)
Some homeowners use a DIY process to drain and flush sediment layers out of the tank on a regular basis; however, it's also included in professional maintenance, so if you have your water heater serviced regularly, you don't have to worry about figuring out how to do that yourself.
3. Relief Valve Problems
The pressure relief valve is one of your water heater's most important safety features. The sacrificial anode protects the tank from an early grave, but the relief valve keeps it from exploding, which is much more important where health and safety are concerned.
Since this is such a critical feature, checking regularly to make sure it's still in good condition is essential. Your maintenance professional can check the valve to make sure it's in good shape and that it's correctly rated for the type and size of water heater you have, as well as making sure it's not leaking, clogged, or visibly damaged. 
These three problems can strike any water heater, but especially one that's not being correctly maintained. Scheduling professional maintenance on a regular basis can help prevent serious safety hazards and more expensive repairs.

if you have your water heater serviced regularly, you don't have to worry about figuring out how to do that yourself.

3. Relief Valve Problems

The pressure relief valve is one of your water heater's most important safety features. The sacrificial anode protects the tank from an early grave, but the relief valve keeps it from exploding, which is much more important where health and safety are concerned.

Since this is such a critical feature, checking regularly to make sure it's still in good condition is essential. Your maintenance professional can check the valve to make sure it's in good shape and that it's correctly rated for the type and size of water heater you have, as well as making sure it's not leaking, clogged, or visibly damaged. 

These three problems can strike any water heater, but especially one that's not being correctly maintained. Scheduling professional maintenance on a regular basis can help prevent serious safety hazards and more expensive repairs.