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How to Maintain a Water Heater to Keep Running Efficiently? A Complete Guide

A water heater, which provides readily usable hot water, can get less efficient and less durable over time. But, you can keep it efficient and durable with several maintenance methods.

So, how to maintain a water heater to keep running efficiently? For this, you can drain and flush the reservoir, and change the anode rod and TPR valve of your heating unit. Also, insulate pipes and tank body, lower the temperature, and reduce the hot water use for better efficiency.

Throughout this article, we will discuss what causes the efficiency loss in a heater and how to deal with it. Hence, keep reading until the end.

What Causes Efficiency Loss Of A Water Heater?

What Causes Efficiency Loss Of A Water Heater

Several factors can contribute to the efficiency loss of your tank or tankless geyser. Here are those common reasons:

  • Sediment buildup: When the sediments build up on the storage geyser, it will provide insulation at the bottom of the tank. This will reduce the heating rate.
  • Lack of insulation: If you insulate the pipe and tank body of the water heater, heat will stay in the reservoir. Thus, this heat loss will cause efficiency loss.
  • High water pressure and temperature: If the water pressure and temperature are high, it may cause energy loss. When the temperature is as high as 140°F, due to the standby heat loss, you may waste around $36-$61 annually.
  • Insufficient combustion: If your water heater is gas-powered,  and it doesn’t get enough air supply, incomplete combustion and heat transfer will take place.
  • Clogged ventilation: If you have a tankless geyser, you still have a risk of poor heating system efficiency. It occurs due to clogged vents or air filters of the geyser.

How To Maintain A Water Heater To Keep Running Efficiently?

maintainwater heater to keep running

Let’s see how to maintain the geyser so that the efficiency doesn’t decrease over time:

Flushing To Remove The Sediment

To prevent sediment in the tank bottom, you need to flush the tank once in 6-12 months. To flush the reservoir, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Turn off the electric connection or gas valve of your electric or gas combustion water heating system.
  • Step 2: Turn off the cold water supply and open the faucet for hot water.
  • Step 3: Now attach a hose with the drain valve and open the valve to drain out the water.
  • Step 4: Stir the sediment and turn on the cold water supply; letting the water drain for 5-10 minutes.
  • Step 5: Then, turn off the drain valve and refill the tank.

Changing Anode Rod

In general, the anode rod corrodes instead of the tank. Thus, you must change the corroded anode at least once in 5 years. Here are the steps regarding this:

  • Step 1: You must turn off the power and water supply first.  Then, you have to drain out the water from the tank.
  • Step 2: Find the rod’s hex head on the tank top or under the top plate.
  • Step 3: Remove the rod by using a socket wrench. 
  • Step 4: If the rod has more than ½” coating, replace the old rod with a new one.
  • Step 5: Wrap the threads of the new rod with Teflon or plumber tape and install it appropriately using a wrench.

Setting The Heater Temperature Low

If you lower the temperature of the water heating system to 10°F, the cost will also decrease by 3-5%. Thus, to prevent energy loss, you can set the temperature of your water heating system at 120°F instead of 140°F.

Setting The Heater Temperature Low

Insulating The Tank Body And Pipes

For insulating the pipes, you need to take pipe insulation of foam with adequate thickness and width for the line. Now, you must cover the hot and cold water pipes with insulation. Then, use tape to close and squeeze the insulation over the pipes.

Similarly, for insulating the tank, you need to take an insulating blanket to cover the sides, pipes, TPR valve, etc.

Checking The TPR Valve

Here’s a  guide on how to replace a TPR valve:

  • Step 1: Turn off the power and water supply. Then, drain out water from the reservoir.
  • Step 2:  You will find the TPR valve on the top or side of the reservoir. Now, lift the valve’s lever to release pressure from the reservoir.
  • Step 3: Use a pipe wrench to loosen the valve and rotate it anticlockwise to remove it from the reservoir.
  • Step 4: Now install a new valve in the similar but reverse process of removing it.

You can check this YouTube video to get a better idea of TPR valve replacement:

Cleaning The Air Filter

Generally, for proper combustion air ventilation in any gas-powered and tankless water heater, an unclogged vent is necessary. For this, you need to clean or change the air filter by following these steps:

  • Step 1: Find the air filter after closing off the power and water supply of the heating unit.
  • Step 2: Open the air filter cover and take out the air filter.
  • Step 3: Clean or change the air filter. Then, reinstall the filter inside the housing and close the cover.

Reduce The Use Of Hot Water

To reduce the pressure on the water heating unit, you can reduce the use of hot water. For this, you can faucet aerators or shower heads with low flow. This will minimize the use of hot water by up to 60%.

Reduce The Use Of Hot Water

Annual Inspections

Though you are following the proper maintenance steps, you must inspect your water heating unit by a professional at least once a year. Yet, you may need to do it more frequently if you have a tankless geyser.

For a tankless water heating system, the air filter, water filter, or vent line can get blocked easily. So, take appropriate maintenance tips from professionals to ensure efficiency.


In this FAQs section, we will answer several most familiar questions about the water heater’s efficiency and maintenance.

What Is The Average Lifespan Of A Water Heater?

The tank system water heaters may last up to 10-15 years. Alongside, the tankless ones have an average lifespan of 20 years. Yet, both may last less or more than that expected period depending on the maintenance.

What Are The Consequences Of Avoiding Water Heater Maintenance?

If you avoid the maintenance steps, your geyser may run poorly and consume more power. Also, it can get damaged entirely, and you may need to spend $500-$3,000 to replace the heater.


Generally, sediment buildup, heat loss through the tank body and pipes, and clogged air filters can reduce the efficiency of storage or instant geysers. You must eliminate these factors to maintain the performance and durability of your water heating unit. As we mentioned how to maintain a water heater to keep running efficiently, follow them appropriately.

If you keep following those maintained methods, you will also be able to reduce the electricity bill of your residence. Still, a professional inspection of the water heater is necessary at least once a year.