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Here’s a nightmare scenario: you’re relaxing at home when your ceiling caves in and water pours down all over you. Every year, leaks in an average American home waste up to 10,000 gallons of water. The EPA claims this is the equivalent of 270 loads of laundry. Here are some ways to avoid water heater repair.

Flush and Drain the Tank

Once a year, drain and flush the water heater tank. Mineral-induced sediment settles into the tank’s bottom over time, forcing the burner to run longer and hotter due to sediment buildup. This excess heat eventually corrodes the tank and causes structural instability. This leads to leaks and flooding.

To drain the water, place the drain valve in a bucket, sink, or outside. Turn the drain valve counterclockwise to fully open it, then turn on the water supply valve at the top of the tank or at the water meter. Finally, close the drain valve and turn off the water supply valve. You can get help from your local plumber to flush and drain your tank, so you can make sure you are getting expert care.

Test the T&P Valve

The temperature and pressure relief valve helps to keep pressure in your water heater tank at a minimum. When it detects harmful pressure levels, this valve automatically opens, relieving the pressure as needed. These valves, however, can fail over time. A simple test should be performed twice a year to determine the health of your T&P valve. When you have routine inspections on your plumbing system, your local plumbing team can test the T&P valve for you, so they can find any potential problems.

Inspect the Anode Rod

A corroded hot water tank means leaks and floods. The anode rod is a failsafe for rust in water heaters. The anode rod rusts in place of the tank, so if yours is almost fully corroded, your water heater will start to rust soon and will not be useable. Think of the anode rod as the water heater’s canary in a coal mine.

Until the heater’s warranty expires, inspect the anode rod every two years. If it looks like it is getting close to fully corroding, your local plumber can replace your corroded rod. Anode rods should be replaced every 3–5 years.

You do not want a water heater failing on you. To avoid paying for water heater repair, flush and drain the tank, test the TandP valve, and inspect the anode rod. You should also have your water heater inspected routinely to help prevent any potential issues. If you do need to have your water heater repaired, contact your friendly neighborhood plumber to avoid additional damage and insurance costs when it does fail.