Hot Water Tanks

How often does your water heater cross your mind? If it is getting on in years, you probably worry about it springing a leak and ruining your home, or if you are replacing it, what do I need to consider.

On average, todays hot water tanks have a lifespan of about 8-9 years, depending upon the quality of the tank and the hardness of the water supply. Many strata councils insist on tanks being replaced every 5 to 7 years.

Maintenance and Tips

  • Drain a few gallons of water from the tank every 2 to 3 months. This will flush any sediment that has accumulated, and increase the life of your tank. There is a drain valve near the bottom of the tank for this purpose. Simply place a shallow dish under the valve, or attach your garden hose and direct to an appropriate location. After draining, you may find that the valve will not close completely, and continues to drip. This occurs when some of the sediment from the tank fouls the valve seat, and can usually be remedied by opening and closing the valve a few times to flush any remaining debris clear.
  • If you find that your hot water seems to run out faster than it used to, this usually indicates that you have a problem with the lower heater element. If you have lots of hot water, but it takes a long time to reheat, the problem usually lies with your upper element.
    Heater elements are replaceable, and come in many different Voltage/Wattage combinations and may be a "Bolt-On" or "Screw-In" type. You will need to match the new element with the existing one for a safe install.
    If you are having problems with the elements, and your tank is nearing the end of it's useful life - you should consider replacing the tank itself, as it will cost you less in the long run.
  • If you are going on holidays or will be away form your residence for an exttended period of time, it is a wise idea to shutoff the water to the tank, and flip the appropriate electrical breakers to "off" while you are gone. If your tank should leak, you will at least not have a major catastrophe to deal with.
    You might even consider shutting off the water at your main shutoff to protect everything (remember to throw that breaker as well - Not the main breaker! - remember you probably have food in your refrigerator/freezer).

Saving Energy

  • If the exterior of your tank is warm to the touch, this indicates that there is not very much insulation within the shell, and since this is not fixable, you may want to consider a tank "Blanket". These are a thin insulating blanket with a reflective outer coating, which will help keep the heat inside the tank
  • Turn the temperature down! Tanks are generally set higher than necessary at the factory, and unless you have a need for very hot water, turning the thermostats down will save you $$. The thermostats are located under the tank access panels (usually 2), and are easy to read. Setting to about 60 degrees C will usually be sufficient for your household needs. Remember - if you are attempting to do this - flip the electrical breaker off first so as to not inadvertantly give yourself a shock (or worse)

Other Tips & Suggestions

  • For added security - consider adding a "Water Gaurdian Leak Protection System" to your tank. The Gaurdian is a sytem comprised of a solenoid valve, alarm panel and water sensor, which will detect the presence of water around your tank, sound an alarm and shut down the water supply.
  • If you are going to replace your tank - consider moving up from a 40 gallon to a 60 gallon tank(if applicable) if you do a lot of laundy or have many baths/showers being used every day. Also remember that you may have to upgrade your wiring to accommodate the 4500 watt elements!

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