Water Heater Maintenance

A leaking water heater will do a lot of damage to your home. Leaking water may seep into carpeting, create mildew and permanently stain your walls. As awful as this sounds, a faulty water heater can cause even greater damage. Fire or toxic fumes from a water heater that is not properly installed or maintained could pose a real threat to you and your family.

Fortunately, most water heater problems can be avoided with proper maintenance.

All water heaters should be frequently checked for leaks. It's important to check the pipe connections, the valves and underneath the unit. Simple preventive maintenance will help you avoid lasting damage from a leaking water heater.

Take time to test the temperature/pressure relief valve once a year to make sure it's working. Be careful when you do. The water in the tank is HOT and can cause scalding burns. Pull up or push down on the valve handle; hot water should come out of the overflow pipe. If it does, the valve is working properly.

Periodically drain a bucket of water from the drain faucet at the bottom of the water tank. Again, take care not to get burned by the hot water. Draining a bucket of water will remove sediment from the tank bottom that could corrode the unit as well as reduce its heating efficiency.

Check all water lines, connections and valves for signs of leakage, especially where connections have been crimped. With a flashlight, check under the tank for small leaks that could be caused by rust and corrosion.

Air Conditioning Maintenance

It is important for air conditioning preventive maintenance to be performed on your system to avoid problems. Water leaking near the air handling unit can be avoided with proper air conditioning preventive maintenance. Normally this is a very simple problem that can be fixed in less than 30 minutes. Here is a list of what can cause water around the outside of the air conditioning air handler unit.

  • The black insulation (called Rubatex) has a tear in it or doesn't cover the entire suction line. This line normally (in Air Conditioning air condition mode) operates below the dew point and will sweat if it is not insulated. It must have a sealed vapor barrier to be effective.
  • The insulation surrounding the air handler supply transition or ductwork is torn. The supply transition and duct can operate (under the right conditions) below the dew point and sweat. It is important that the transition have a vapor barrier around it. This scenario is especially true for those that have oversized units.
  • The condensation drain line is plugged. Air handling units in attics should have a secondary condensation pan in case the primary condensation pan overflows. Occasionally, the secondary condensation pan will also clog and not drain. Water builds up in the ceiling and eventually there will be a drip if the homeowner is lucky. If no drip, then eventually the entire ceiling will fall. In the attic I always recommend a float switch installed in the secondary air conditioning condensation drain pan. If the secondary condensation pan fills, the float switch will rise and cut the whole air conditioning unit off. This will force the homeowner to look for a problem or call an HVAC technician. In this case, with the float switch, the problem can be rectified before water damage occurs. Algae or a foreign obstruction such as mulch or potting soil can plug condensation drain lines. These air conditioning condensation drain lines (either black plastic or white plastic looking pipes) usually drain out somewhere at the base of the house into a flower garden. Make sure mulch or soil doesn't plug these condensation lines up. Adding algae treatment to the lines or pans can prevent algae. Some people pour bleach in the evaporator condensation pans once a year. Whatever the way you use to prevent it from growing in your evaporator condensation pan, know that if steps aren't taken to prevent algae growth, it will eventually plug the condensation lines.
  • If the filter is extremely clogged, a duct is collapsed, the evaporator coils are plugged with dirt or dust because no filter was kept in the system, or there is a low charge of Freon, the evaporator coil will freeze. When it thaws, it will overwhelm the evaporator condensation pan and leak outside the air handling unit.
  • Rust. Some evaporator condensation pans are made of metal and can rust through over the years of use. In certain cases, the entire air handling unit must be changed out. In other cases the evaporator coils and evaporator condensation pan must be changed. Normally if the air handler unit is old enough to have a rusted evaporator condensation pan that leaks, it is time to change the air handling unit.
  • Unit or Drain Pan Slope. If the evaporator drain pan is not sloped toward the drain the water will not drain from the evaporator pan properly. Additionally, the condensation drain piping must be sloped.


Consumer Product Safety Commission

Non Reversing Garage Door Openers A Hazard

CPSC Document #523