Water Heater Maintenance

A poorly maintained water heater costs more to operate and can even cause damage to your home. Even a small, slow leak can cause water damage and decay. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, once a month check pipe connections, valves, and underneath the unit for any signs of a leak.

If the heater is a gas model, be sure the vent pipe is in place and unobstructed. About once a year check the pressure relief valve by pulling up or pushing down on the valve handle to be sure that hot water comes out of the overflow pipe. If it does, then the valve is working properly.

Finally, you should periodically drain a bucket of water from the faucet at the bottom of the tank to remove any sediment at the bottom of the heater which could corrode the unit and reduce its heating efficiency.

Further Information


  1. THe gas company installed a new gas water heater.The installers dropped tank on the cement bringing it in. [bottom dented on edge showing a 6″hg x 4″ wd x 1″ dp.]
    tank does not leak but i have noticed since instalaition of this tank,when turning on hot water it comes out of tap a milky whitish color for a minute or so tnen it sometimes clears up sooner.what could be causing this?Gas company says it is normal,fill glass and it will clear, which it does.still skepticle as i have never encountered this in 40 years.thank you in advance for any info you can give me on this matter. Frank

  2. well I try to empty out my tank but nothing comes out the water only come outs when I open up the water what am I doing wrong thanks luis

  3. I recently had the T&P relief valve on my water heater replaced as well as the Pressure Reducing Valve on the main water supply. The factory setting on the PRV is 50psi. I have been monitoring the pressure to check for thermal expansion and the overnight readings range from 90psi – 130 psi. At what point should I install an expansion tank? If the high pressure does not get above 90 psi, do I still need an expansion tank? Thank you.

  4. My hot water heater makes noises from time to time that seem rather odd. It will just start making a popping/sizzling noise for ~30 sec’s and then quiet right down – does this on random frequency?? Could it be ‘airbound’ and this is the cold water hitting hot element?

  5. With LP or Nat gas combustion you have several things produced -water is one of them, as the gas is heated the water vapor is in a transiant state from just below steam temperature.Until the flue gasses heat up enough to cause the combustables up the flue-some of the water vapor drips back down on the burner. If you notice when you first star a car the exhaust drips water for a bit until the engine heats up–same thing.Most new heaters and furnaces are called condensing type,which means exactly that.the furnace is so efficient that the exhaust is cool enough to produce condensation and actually needs a drain and can use PVC flue pipe.
    You may have a blocked flue or may not be pitched up enough.

  6. After watching the segment on tv i followed the steps to drain the sedement from my electric water heater. Now the heater does not want to come back on. The power is on, what am i doing wrong?

  7. I have a fairly new 40 Gal. electric water heater that has been working great since April. This is a vacation home that I only get to on weekends. Last week I turned on the water to take a shower and the sulphur smell was terrible. Rotten Eggs. What could have caused this? Only the hot water. What can I do to remedy the situation shy of draining the tank?
    been working great

  8. Water is coming out of the pressure relief valve on my water heater. It will leak almost nothing for days, and then will push out multiple gallons of water on a given day. Could this be a defective T&P relief valve, knowing that the amount of water coming out is inconsistent? Also, is it possible that a water heater can be fine for 6 years, and then all of a sudden need a thermal expansion tank?

  9. Dave,

    I am having the same problem with a small amount of water leaking out my T&P valve. I replaced what I thought was a defective valve only to have the new one do the same thing. I have a 40 gallon gas water heater with an expanion tank. The water heater is 2 years old.
    What gives?

  10. We recently replace our old water heater and we noticed that the water pressure is not the same as it was and as the days, months went on the amount of water coming ou from our faucets is really little. My husband got discoureaged when he asked 1 plumer about our problem, his recommednation was to repipe the whole house which will cost arounf $ 8,000.00. This is a lot of money and I am not confident with that recommendation. Hope you can give us some advise on is the best ting to do. Thanks

  11. A plumber installed a power vented gas water heater about two years ago. Now when the wash machine is working or someone takes a shower, it leaks water onto the basement floor. I can’t see where it is coming from. Surely it couldn’t rust in two years. The pressure relief valve works and the condensate tube is “looped”. Any ideas?

  12. I live in mobile and inside my closet is the water heater, the pressure valve is leaking and running down the pvc pipe and is running under the mobile now the ground under the home is like lake. could this be the pressure valve? do you have to shut off the gas piolet and drain the water any answers thanks

  13. I have a 40 gallon gas fired tall heater. When the burner is running there is a bubbling or crackling noise from bottom of tank. This sound gets worse if you turn on a faucet (call for water)and burner is running. I don’t think it is condensation from flue because of the extra noise when a faucet is turned on. Any help please?

  14. I have notice my water heater is leaking around the cold water supply valve is this someting I can repair myself, and what would be some of the possible symptoms?

    • Hi Dan,
      The space under each article on our website is reserved for comments that visitors would like to post. These can be general comments, feedback about the article, questions about the topic, or answers to questions posted by other visitors or members. While it’s not possible for Danny and the Today’s Homeowner staff to respond personally to the thousands of comments on our site, we do read every one and respond when we can.

  15. I have a new hot water heater we hooked up electricity i have power to the tank but the tank does nothing. I have pushed the reset switch! What is wrong!!!!

    • Hi Bill,
      Once you’ve turned off the cold water intake line to the water heater and opened the drain at the bottom, you will need to either open a hot water faucet in your sink or open the pressure relief valve to allow air into the system to get it to drain.

  16. I have an electric water heater, the bottom toward the rear os beginning to show signs of corrosion, what should I do?

  17. Me and my husband just bought a house about a month ago it was a forcloser and property was as is. So when we checked the water heater after the property was frozen for a few months the water seemed to be heating up. We purchased the house with the home inspector saying to prepare to purchase a new water heater as our RheemGlas Fury model 82V52-2 was almost 5 years old. However since we have moved in we have seen our hot water go from filling up a bath to half of a bath to no hot water. My husband installed a new element on the bottom panel which had some calcium build up- we thought that would fix the problem but now there is no warmth to the water at all please help! Sincerely, Melissa James

    • Hi Melissa,
      Start by checking the circuit breaker to make sure it’s on, then use an electrical tester at the water heater to see if it’s getting power. Next check the thermostat to see if it’s turned up, and that the cut-off valves in the water lines running to and from the water heater are open. If all seems in order and you still don’t have any hot water, you may be due for a replacement. Good luck with your project!

  18. We have nothing but Rusty water coming out of all over hot faucets. I ran the down stairs tub about two weeks ago and nothing but rusty hot water…ran it a week ago and it was fine. I just ran my hot water in my upstairs tub and nothing but rusty hot water. The hot water tank was replaced in Aug of 2005..its a whirlpool. Any suggestions?


  19. We had a new water heater installed in Nov. of 2008. My husband did the install (he has done several other water heater installs in previous homes and he knows what he is doing) and then he had our local power&gas company come out to check the install and gas lines. Everything was done properly and OK-ed by them. It has worked great with no problems but suddenly, just this month, we are hearing a loud pop after the heater is finishing heating the water and has just shut off. It is a very loud noise…. loud enough that I can hear it from our kitchen which is at the top of the basement stairs.
    Can you give us any clues as to what might be causing this.
    The water heater is a Whirlpool – 40 gallon. Thanks for your help.

    • Hi Darla,
      The gas water heaters I’ve had make an audible click when the burner cuts off, but not a loud noise. It must be a problem with the thermostat. Since it’s a new water heater it should still be under warranty, so I would contact the store where you bought it and/or manufacturer of the water heater.

  20. The pressure relief valve on my electric hot water heater was leaking.So I replaced it with a new one.The new one is doing the same.Could the new one be faulty? The temp is set at 125 degrees F. Any ideas?

  21. my water heater is constantly leaking from pressure relief valve.does the valve need to be replaced?and can i open valve without turning anything off?

  22. You can remove parts of the disintegrated dip tube and you should. Bits ended up through my pipes and clogged faucets. I could clean those, but my roman bathtub plumbing is inaccessible unless you cut through the outside siding. So the hot water side of the faucet/pipe is blocked with pieces of dip tube that can be large chunks and the water flow is reduced to a little better than a trickle. I drained the tank, removed the drain valve and wet vacuumed huge chunks that could not have cleared the drain valve opening. Once chunks end up in your pipes, you have no way of knowing where they are so you can’t remove them. They reduce your water pressure all over the place. My relief valve is stuck on now, and since it is that once a year time to flush, I am going to also remove the drainvalve so I can look into the tank and see the anode tube and dip tube. The opening is big enough and I would rather inspect this way then to remove those items and risk leaks and breakage. Hope this helps.


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