Maintaining a Water Heater

Extend the life of your water heater and reduce energy costs with regular maintenance

Under 2 hours

You may not realize how often you use your home’s water heater, but that changes the moment it breaks.

This guide will show you how to complete some of the most common water heater maintenance tasks to keep this vital appliance up and running.

The Home Depot offers services for same-day installation when you call before noon in most areas. Schedule an appointment today.

What You'll Need

Flush the water heater
Flush the water heater - Maintaining Water Heater

Tip: The build up of sediment in the tank can reduce your water heater's energy efficiency and also clog your water lines. Avoid these problems and increase the life of your unit by flushing your water heater every six months.

• Connect a standard garden hose to the water heater drain outlet near the base. Place the other end of the hose near a floor drain or in a large bucket.
• Flush sediment from the bottom of the heater by opening the drain spigot and allowing the water to flow until it runs clear.

Adjusting the water temperature
Adjusting water temperature - Maintaining Water Heater

• If you have a gas water heater, the temperature can easily be adjusted with the thermostat located on the tank.
• For an electric water heater, shut off power to the unit by flipping the breaker at the service panel.
• Pull back any insulation to expose the thermostat.
• Use a screwdriver to change the thermostat temperature in 10-degree increments.
• Close the panel, turn the power on, and check the water temperature after one hour.
• Adjust again if necessary.

Relighting a gas water heater
Relighting gas water heater - Maintaining Water Heater

• Lift off the access panel at the bottom of the tank.
• Remove the heat shield and check to see if there is a flame. If not, shut off the gas supply valve.
• Disperse any excess gas by gently blowing into the opening before you attempt to relight the pilot.

Relighting gas water heater - Maintaining Water Heater

Turn the knob on top of the control box to the “Pilot” position.

Relighting gas water heater - Maintaining Water Heater

• Hold a lit fireplace match or barbecue lighter to the pilot access opening.
• Press and hold down the reset button on the control box for 60 seconds after the pilot ignites, then turn the control knob to the “On” position.
• Replace the access panel.