A tank-style water heater is an investment. With the proper care, tank-style water heaters can last between 8 to 12 years on average. But what does it take to maintain a water heater?

Tank-style water heaters need regular maintenance to prolong their lifespan and avoid running into early problems. These issues can start small, but over time, lack of maintenance can cause bigger problems for your water heater, leaving you ready to “fix” your water heater with a sledgehammer. Yikes!

We here at Monkey Wrench Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electric have worked with thousands of customers, and our technicians are trained and certified by some of the top water heater manufacturers. We are experts when it comes to water heaters and how to protect them, and now, we want to share our knowledge with you.

In this article, we will go through the basics of water heater maintenance so that you can become an expert when it comes to maintenance for your water heater.

Do Water Heaters Need Maintenance?

Water heaters need regular maintenance to not only run properly but also to prolong the life of your tank. Additionally, damaged or broken water heaters can also put you and your family at risk for severe burns. Ouch! So we recommend that you get your water heater serviced regularly. But how often should your water heater receive maintenance?

In general, we recommend that you have your water heater serviced at least once a year. This regular maintenance will help clear out extra sediment left in your water heater, which can cause serious damage and clogs your system if left untreated.

Kinds of Maintenance for a Water Heater

Knowing the signs, it’s time for water heater maintenance is the first step to giving your tank a full life. So you must be wondering now, what kind of maintenance does a water heater tank need?

To maintain a tank-style water heater, you or a certified technician can:

Drain/Flush Water Heater

Another way to maintain your water heater is to drain or flush it. Whether you have hard or soft water, your tank-style water heater can collect a significant amount of sediment throughout the year. Sediment can increase the risk of damage to your water tank, reduce the amount of water available in your tank, and clog your water lines.

To avoid a build-up, you should flush your tank every year or every six months if you have hard water. Again, while you can do this yourself, we recommend you contact a certified technician to help if you are not exactly handy. Want to learn more about how to drain a water heater yourself? Check out this article as we walk through the steps on how to drain your tank-style water heater.

Test Pressure Relief Valve

Water heaters include a pressure relief valve. The pressure relief valve is a key safety feature, as it allows water to drain in the event of dangerous pressure levels. Lift the tab on the valve and then let go of the tab to test the pressure relief valve. You can tell if everything is in working order if water flows when the tab is up but not when it’s down.

Any issues during this test mean you’ll need a replacement.

Inspect Anode Rod

Making sure the anode rod is working properly is another way you or a professional can do maintenance on a water heater, as the rod protects the inner lining of your water heater’s tank. Testing the anode rod is key to ensuring you do not end up with a leak. The inspection process requires a lot of technical work, and without the proper tools or caution around electricity, this can be a dangerous D-I-Y task.

If you are not particularly handy with water heaters, we recommend you call a professional for help.

Signs Your Water Heater Needs Maintenance

Now that you have a more general timeline of how often you need water heater maintenance, it’s time to start taking a closer look at the signs that something’s a little off with your heater.

If you notice any of the following signs, you should take action as soon as possible. Ignoring the problem is only going to make things worse for your water heater and can make matters worse for your home.

Discolored Water

If you spot rusty water coming from the heater, this is usually a clear indication that the inside of your tank is rusting due to corrosion. When corrosion happens, rust builds and can leak into your water supply. This leads to discolored water coming out of the faucets. Now, before you jump to conclusions about the water heater, we recommend that you run cold tap water for a few minutes.

If that water is also rusty, it may mean the issue is within the pipes, not the heater. Additionally, sometimes water may be cloudy or sandy, caused by a buildup of sediment in the heater tank. You can fix this issue by draining the tank and clearing the sediment. To do this, you can either call a certified technician to drain your water heater, or you can do it yourself.

Making Noise

If your water heater sounds like there might be a thunderstorm in your basement or a stampede of safari animals, chances are something is going on with your water heater. As your tank ages, residue starts to build on the bottom. When the sediment heats up, it eventually hardens and will bang against the heater, leaving you with a loud rumbling noise or popping sound, similar to popcorn. With the banging noises comes leaking, so we recommend you get your water heater checked out as soon as you start to hear unusual sounds.

And speaking of leaking…


At the end of their life span, water heaters tend to leak around the floor of the tank, but this can also happen if your water heater needs some serious TLC. Water leaks are often the result of expansions to the metal in the tank. These expansions occur over time as the inner–body of the tank is exposed to thousands upon thousands of heating cycles every time you use hot water.

While a small leak is not an emergency, it is something that should be addressed quickly to avoid larger leaks, more damage to your water heater, or damage to your home.

Consider Your Water Heater Maintained

Having maintenance performed on your tank-style water heater at least once a year is key to getting the most out of your water heater. We recommend that homes with hard water schedule maintenance every six months.

Lack of maintenance can cause early breakdowns and could shorten the lifespan of your tank-style water heater.

Want to learn more about the lifespan of your water heater and gain knowledge on when it is time to replace your water heater? Check out these articles below as we dive deeper into what affects the lifespan of your tank-style water heater, and we share the signs to look out for when it is time to replace your water heater.

How Long Do Tank-Style Water Heaters Last?

5 Signs It’s Time To Replace Your Water Heater

When it comes to water heaters, Monkey Wrench Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electric wants to set you and your home up for success. If you live in the Los Angeles area and would like to schedule an appointment for tank-style water heater maintenance, click the ‘Book’ button below or visit our water heater service page. Or if you have any other questions regarding tank-style water heaters, you can call us at (424) 622-4228, and one of our call center representatives would be happy to help you.

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