How To Maintain Your Rheem Hot Water System

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It can be very easy for home owners to forget just how easily even a reliable Rheem hot water system can fail. Almost every home around the world depends on a hot water system in winter for everything from washing, cooking and showering to cleaning the floor. The biggest problem with hot water systems is that they require your attention every now and then, if they do not get your attention they may fail when you least expect it.

Unlike what most people may think hot water systems are not mysterious or very complicated to understand. With a little understanding of how the system works maintaining it does not require professional help. This is especially the case with systems that have hot water tanks. However, continuous hot water systems that do not store water also suffer from a number of issues but many of which you cannot do much about. Effectively maintaining your hot water tank systems happens to be relatively easy not to mention the fact that doing so can triple its lifespan.

There are two main things that you should consider during maintenance:

  • The sacrificial anode
  • The pressure relief value

Check and replace the sacrificial anode

The majority of tank based heaters have an extra metal rod added to attract impurities from the water. Also known as a sacrificial anode because it pretty much gets used up over a period of months but saves the other anodes from corrosion. The sacrificial anode is made from either magnesium or aluminum and coated with a thick layer of zinc. The rod hangs down the side of a water tank. However, once the rod deteriorates or becomes rusty its ability to sacrifice itself is significantly reduced. This means that other metal parts start attracting the minerals in the water. This is why it’s best to check and replace the anode every three years. This will help to extend the life of your hot water system by a decade.

Replacing the sacrificial anode

This is usually not a job for someone who has never done this before. Since, there is a lot of hot water in the tank, the first steps is to drain out all the water, turn off the gas or electricity and turn off the water running into the tank. In a Rheem hot water system, you’ll need to open out the top part of the tank and then pull out the anode, unscrew it and screw in the new one.

Check the replace the TPR or Temperature and Pressure valves

These valves are usually installed as a security measure. The valves are designed to automatically vent hot water in the event that the pressure or the temperature in the tank becomes very high. This prevents the tank from exploding or cracking under the pressure. So, if the TPR valve is not working it poses a huge risk because tanks do explode.

In order to test the TPR valve you’ll need run through a number of straightforward steps. First check the outlet pipe if the valve has started leaking water it has to be replaced first. You’ll need to expel some of the hot water in order to test the valve, since this can be dangerous wear gloves and shoes.

  • In Rheem hot water systems you need to check right underneath the outlet pipe to make sure it is clear and there is nothing in its way. Then stand as far as possible from the pipe’s end.
  • Then lift the TPR valve’s handle slightly, if you feel as if it’s stuck then don’t try to force it open. If it does not move then it will have to be replaced. If it lifts you’ll see hot water flowing slowly out of the pipe.
  • Then gently close the valve. If the flow does not stop completely i.e. dripping or water continues to flow then the valve is not reliable and has to be replaced.

To replace the temperature and pressure relief valve you’ll first have to drain all the water from the tank. Then using a wrench slowly turn the base of the valve anti-clockwise until it comes off. You will then have to screw in an exact match.  It just takes a few minutes once the water has been drained.

Citations:
  • Solar Hot Water Systems
Featured images:
  •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Active_Indirect_Water_Heater_Diagram.svg
  •  License: Image author owned 

Mark is a certified plumber with over a decade of experience working with hot water systems. He specializes in mainly Rheem hot water systems but can handle almost anything. He currently works out of his office based in Sydney.