How To Tune Up A Water Heater

Periodically maintain your water heater to ensure that you have a steady supply of hot water to meet your daily needs. Water heaters are generally efficient and reliable appliances, but they function daily, which can wear on the system.

Unlike your stove, dishwasher or laundry machines, a hot water heater might be constantly operating to replace the water that is needed throughout the home. These demands can cause the water heater operate less efficiently and cause problems.


  • Lack of hot water
  • Not hot enough water
  • Off-color water
  • Bad odors
  • Noises emanating from the tank
  • Leaking water

Safety Precautions

If your tank is powered by electricity, turn off any circuit breakers to the heater while you work on it. If you have a gas-powered unit, turn the control valve to the “pilot” setting.

Turn off the water supply to the heater. Open the closest water faucet and attach a hose to the tank drain valve.

Water Problems

  • Drain the tank first.
  • On a monthly basis, flush out the tank, allowing fresh, clear water to run through and remove any sediment.
  • Every 4 months, clean the tank with a CLR (calcium, lime and rust) solution. Allow the cleaner to sit in the tank for 2 hours before flushing.
  • If the water is off-color, replace the anode rod. These rods dissolve slowly inside water heater tanks to help prevent any rusting. There are different types of anode rods that may be more effective based on the hardness of your water.
  • If you have problems with mineral sediments, consider adding a water softener to your system.
  • Bacteria in sediment can cause bad odors. A water conditioner or periodic cleaning/flushing may solve the problem

Temperature Problems

If there is no hot water, use a handhold volt meter to check all electric power connections for current. Be extremely careful working around electric components. Tighten all connections. If power is absent, you may need to replace one or more components

Bad thermostats can cause a lack of hot water. The thermostat controls when a call for power is needed to transmit energy to the heating element to produce hot water. If not operating correctly, the thermostat needs to be calibrated or replaced.

Temperature problems may also be caused by faulty heating elements. These either need to be cleaned (scale material buildup) or replaced if not working properly.