Maintaining Your Water Heater

While it is important to have your water heater inspected by a professional on an annual basis, you can take steps throughout the year to personally ensure that everything is running well. One of the primary things to do is look out for problems with the pressure. The average boiler should read a pressure of 12 to 15 pounds. If the pressure goes beyond 30 pounds, this could result in damage and even pose a danger. You will probably find the pressure reading on the same gauge where you can find the temperature and altitude as well (altitude refers to how high the water level is). Also, there is a pressure-relief valve on top of the water heater. Should you ever notice that water is seeping out of this valve, this indicates that the boiler’s pressure is at 30 pounds. Call for professional help as soon as possible.

Fortunately, if you regularly check the pressure, this might be the only thing you need to do for maintenance. If you do encounter a problem with your water heater, it is usually advisable to leave the solution to a professional. However, if you discover that your boiler’s pressure is way too high, you may be able to solve the problem by draining the expansion tank. This tank (a cylinder with a drain valve) will be somewhere above the boiler. If you need to drain the expansion tank, you will have to turn off the power and cut off the water flow going to the water heater. Then you will need to wait for the tank to cool down. When it is ready, you can put a garden hose on the drain valve, open the valve, and thus funnel the water out of the tank for as long as it takes to get the boiler pressure to be the same as the expansion tank pressure. Then you can close off the valve and restore both the power and the water supply.

Not everyone has this type of expansion tank though. Some people have diaphragm expansion tanks. In this case, when boiler pressure is too high, there is an issue with air pressure, not water volume. You can take a tire pressure gauge to find out the air pressure in the expansion tank. Compare the air pressure on the gauge to the recommended psi (pounds per square inch) that is listed on the tank. Then you only need a bike pump to get the air pressure to the right levels.

Don’t know which type of expansion tank you have? You can call your building department or public utilities to find out. Once you have done what you can for your expansion tank, keep an eye on the hot water system to make sure that everything is okay when it reboots. If the pressure on your boiler still spikes up, then you need to call an experienced plumber to diagnose the problem.

When you come across a plumbing emergency, day or night, you can find the service that you deserve at A-1 Sewer & Septic Service Inc. Our plumbers provide fast and friendly service to homeowners and businesses throughout Kansas City, and can handle emergencies that occur after business hours. Call our team of experienced technicians today to get a quote. No problem is too big or too small for us to handle.

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