A water heater is a vital appliance in daily life, providing hot water for various domestic needs. Its importance becomes evident when we rely on it for bathing, cooking, and cleaning. Regular maintenance plays a crucial role in ensuring its longevity and efficiency. Neglecting maintenance can lead to decreased performance, higher energy bills, and costly repairs or replacements. Therefore, this article aims to offer a comprehensive guide on maintaining water heaters, helping users extend the lifespan of this essential appliance and avoid unnecessary inconveniences and expenses. In situations where complex repairs or urgent issues arise, it’s important to remember that a professional plumber, like Tulsa Water Heater Repair, can provide expert assistance to ensure the continued reliability of your water heater.

Understanding Your Water Heat

Water heaters come in various types, each with characteristics and maintenance requirements. Here, we’ll define the three primary types of water heaters – tank, tankless, and heat pump – and provide insights into how they work and the specific maintenance they need.

Tank Water Heaters

Tank water heaters are the most common and traditional type. They consist of a sizable tank that holds and warms water. A heating element or a gas burner raises the water temperature to a preset level. Maintenance for tank water heaters includes:

  • Flushing the tank annually to remove sediment buildup, which can affect efficiency.
  • Checking and replacing the anode rod as needed to prevent tank corrosion.
  • Checking the pressure relief valve to ensure it is operating properly
  • Ensuring the thermostat is correctly set to the desired temperature.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters, also known as on-demand water heaters, heat water only when needed, eliminating the need for a storage tank. Cold water passes through a heat exchanger, rapidly heated by electric coils or a gas burner. Maintenance for tankless water heaters includes:

  • Descaling the unit periodically to remove mineral deposits.
  • Checking for any leaks or loose connections in the water and gas lines.
  • Cleaning the air intake and exhaust vents to maintain proper combustion.
  • Verifying that the unit is adequately ventilated to prevent overheating.

Heat Pump Water Heaters

Heat pump water heaters are energy-efficient units that extract heat from the surrounding air to warm the water. They operate on the same principle as air conditioners but in the other direction. Maintenance for heat pump water heaters includes:

  • Cleaning or replacing the air filters regularly to ensure efficient heat transfer.
  • Checking for dirt or debris buildup on the evaporator and condenser coils.
  • Inspecting the refrigerant levels and electrical connections.
  • Verifying proper airflow and ventilation around the unit.

Signs of a Problem

Early detection of water heater issues is crucial to prevent major breakdowns. Keep a watch out for these typical signs:

  • Strange Noises: If your water heater starts making unusual noises such as banging, popping, or hissing, it indicates something is amiss. These noises could be caused by sediment buildup inside the tank or issues with the heating element. Ignoring them may lead to reduced efficiency and even damage to the unit.
  • Lukewarm Water: When you notice that your hot water isn’t as hot as it used to be or fluctuates between hot and cold, it’s a sign of a potential problem. It could be due to a faulty thermostat, a malfunctioning heating element, or sediment accumulation, all of which can be resolved with timely maintenance.
  • Water Leaks: Any signs of water leakage around your water heater should never be ignored. Leaks can indicate various issues, from a loose valve to a corroded tank. It is crucial to address leaks promptly to avoid water damage and the necessity for expensive repairs or replacements.

Regular Maintenance Tasks

Flushing the Tank

Sediment buildup can reduce efficiency. To remedy this, follow these steps:

  • Turn off the power supply.
  • Connect a hose to the tank’s drain valve.
  • Open the valve and let the water and sediment drain into a bucket.
  • Close the valve and refill the tank.

Checking for Leaks

  • Inspect all connections, including the pipes, valves, and fittings, for any signs of moisture or water stains.
  • Pay close attention to the area around the pressure relief valve, the drain valve, and the tank’s seams.
  • If you find any leaks, take immediate action to address the issue. Tighten loose connections or replace faulty components.

Inspecting the Pressure Relief Valve

Testing the pressure relief valve ensures it’s functioning correctly. Lift the lever and listen for a rush of water. If it doesn’t release water, consider replacing it.

Safety Precautions

When performing maintenance on your water heater, safety is paramount. Here are some key safety measures to follow:

  • Turn off Power and Gas Supply: Before beginning maintenance, shut off the power supply to electric water heaters via the circuit breaker, and for gas heaters, set the thermostat to “pilot” or turn off the gas supply at the valve.
  • Use Protective Gear: Wear safety gear, gloves, and eye protection to guard against hot water and potential splashes.
  • Beware of Hot Water: Hot water inside the tank can scald. Open hot water faucets for pressure release before maintenance to prevent burns.
  • Proper Ventilation: Ensure well-ventilated areas using gas water heaters to prevent gas fume buildup. Keep flammable materials away.
  • Consult the Manual: Always follow your water heater’s manual for maintenance and safety instructions. Manufacturers may provide unique recommendations.
  • Fire Extinguisher: Keep a fire extinguisher nearby for emergencies, especially when dealing with gas heaters.
  • Know Your Limits: If you’re uncomfortable with maintenance or encounter complex issues, it’s wise to seek professional assistance. Reliable plumbers like Tulsa Water Heater Repair can provide expert guidance and ensure safety in challenging situations.


How frequently should I conduct water heater maintenance?

Annual maintenance is recommended to ensure your water heater operates efficiently and safely. It’s also a good practice to visually check it regularly.

Is professional maintenance necessary, or can I handle it alone?

Basic maintenance tasks like flushing and visual inspections can be DIY. However, for complex issues, gas-related concerns, or if you’re unsure, it’s prudent to contact a seasoned professional such as Tulsa Water Heater Repair.

Can water heater maintenance save me money?

Indeed, regular maintenance can save you money by increasing the appliance’s longevity, boosting efficiency, and preventing costly repair bills.

What are the telltale signs that my water heater requires attention?

Signs include unusual noises, lukewarm water, water leaks, rusty water, decreased pressure, and when your heater approaches its lifespan’s end.

What should I do if I suspect a gas leak from my water heater?

If you suspect a gas leak, turn off the gas supply, ventilate the area, evacuate your home, and promptly contact a licensed gas professional or Tulsa Water Heater Repair for immediate assistance.

Is it necessary to drain a tankless water heater?

Tankless heaters don’t require tank flushing, but they may need periodic descaling, which professionals like Tulsa Water Heater Repair best handle.

In conclusion, maintaining your water heater is an investment in comfort and cost savings. You can ensure its longevity and efficiency by understanding your water heater type, spotting signs of trouble, and following a regular maintenance schedule. Remember to prioritize safety and consult a professional like Tulsa Water Heater Repair for complex maintenance or repair needs. With proper care, your water heater will continue to provide reliable service for years.

Read more about our business by visiting About Us | Plumbing Tulsa | Acts of Service Plumbing today. Also, check out one of the many clients we have served around the Tulsa area, including Navien Inc. Also don’t hesitate to reach out for any Tulsa water heater repair needs!