5 Timely Maintenance Tips to Get My Water Heater Ready for Fall & Winter

Plumber checking off on a clipboardYour family relies on the water heater in your home daily for countless purposes. You can help keep it healthy, last longer and cost you less to operate by completing a few simple tasks to get it ready for the colder days and nights ahead.

1. Check the Temperature and Pressure Release Valve

If the temperature and pressure inside your tank get too high, it could become dangerous. The temperature and pressure relief valve are designed to automatically open should this happen to prevent injury or malfunction. To test it, place a bucket under the drainpipe attached to the valve and open it. If no water or only a trickle comes out, it's probably time for a new one.

Drain a few gallons of water from the tank and remove the valve using a standard plumbing wrench. Wrap Teflon tape around the new valve before installing it.

2. Check the Anode Rod

Most people are unaware that there’s a magnesium or aluminum rod inside their water heater that protects the tank from rust by attracting the water’s corrosive elements like a magnet. Once the rod itself is corroded, it no longer offers any protection.

With a few gallons drained from the tank, loosen the anode rod’s hexagonal head located on top of the tank with a 1 1/16-inch socket. Remove the rod to inspect it. If it is less than ½ inch in diameter, install a new one, being sure to wrap Teflon tape around it first.

3. Empty the Tank

Water heater maintenance

If your water heater is more than a few years old, chances are there's a considerable amount of dirt, grit, and sand that has settled on the bottom of the tank. This acts as a barrier between the heating elements and the water, making your heater work harder and consume more energy. To clean it out, connect a hose to the drain valve and place the other end in a floor drain or outside. Turn a nearby hot water tap on to assist in the drainage process and open the drain valve.

Once the tank is empty, briefly open the water intake valve to stir up remaining sediment and allow it to empty. Repeat this step until the water coming from the tank is clean.

4. Add Some Insulation

You can prevent heat loss from your water heater and pipes by adding some insulation. Tightly wrap a foil insulating blanket around the tank, being sure to cut around valves and the thermostat. Use foil tape to seal the blanket.

Place some 3/8 inch self-adhesive foam insulation around as much of the pipe as you can access and peel back the tape to create a tight seal.

5. Set the Temperature

Water heater indicator

The factory setting of most water heaters is between 120°F and 140°F. For every 10° cooler that you set your thermostat, you could achieve up to 5% savings on your energy bills. We suggest setting the thermostat to 120°F to prevent burns.

Once your tasks are completed, you can refill the tank and turn the heater back on once it is partially filled.

While jobs like these can be done by most adept do-it-yourselfers, the plumbing experts at Epic Plumbing are available to provide assistance if you're not comfortable doing them yourself. Call us today at (281) 815-2322 to schedule an appointment in Pearland, Friendswood, or nearby.

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