How To Maintain A Water Heater

Tank type water heaters are one of those common appliances you rely upon every day. Whether gas or electric, they are generally very dependable and quiet. Water heaters can last for a decade or more and with the simple 3-step annual maintenance plan outlined here, you can extend the life of your water heater even further and save money in the process.

By following this, 3-step annual maintenance plan, you can significantly extend the life of your water heater. Here are the three topics covered in this tutorial.

  • Dial Down the Temperature
  • Test the T&P (temperature and pressure) Relief Valve
  • Do a Mini-Flush


Check your water heater temperature setting:

Water heater gas control valve maintenance
Water heater gas control valve



  • Go to the temperature setting dial on your water heater. It will be a knob on the gas valve or a thermostat behind an electric water heater panel.
  • Dial the temperature setting down so it is between 115 to 120 degrees F.
  • This lowered setting will protect the tank from overheating and will reduce the energy used to heat the water.

Test the T&P Valve

The temperature and pressure (T&P) relief valve is critical to safety and proper operation of your water heater. It’s a simple but important valve and is easily checked:

water heater maintenance temperature and pressure valve
Water heater temperature and pressure (T&P) valve




  • To test the T&P valve simply lift up on the lever part way, then let go and allow it to rapidly snap back.

  • You should hear a gurgling sound as the valve allows some water to be released into the drain tube.

  • If the T&P valve did nothing then it is bad and needs to be replaced.


Do a Mini-Flush

Removal of sediments from the bottom of the tank is important to prevent rust, corrosion and improve efficiency. Although a full water heater tank draining and flush is best, performing a full flush is a bit of work and requires shutting down the water heater. This mini-flush works well takes a fraction of the time and allows you to do it while the water heater is running:

Water heater drain valve maintenance
Water heater drain valve



  • Place a bucket under the drain valve found near the bottom of the water heater tank.
  • Some drain valves have a handle. Others like the one in the photo shown here have a short handle-less stem with a slot for a flat blade screwdriver.
  • Turn the valve counterclockwise to release a few gallons of water into the bucket.
  • Close the valve by turning it clockwise and drain the bucket.
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