5 Effortless Winter Water Heater Prep Tips
Water heaters aren’t cheap, and while they do have a limited lifespan, there are things you can do to increase the number of years you’ll get from your system.
Regular maintenance is the most important, and there are things you should do now to keep your water heater in good shape and make sure it doesn’t break down when you need it most—in the middle of winter.
1. Test Your TPR
The TPR, or temperature and pressure relief valve, is a valve that opens to release pressure from the tank when the temperature or pressure inside increases to a dangerous level. If your TPR isn’t working properly, you need to replace it immediately.
Testing: Raise and lower the test lever to open the valve. Water should pour out of the discharge pipe when the valve is open, and this indicates the TPR is working.
Replace the valve immediately if no water comes out or only a small amount.
2. Check the Anode Rod and Replace if Necessary
The anode rod inside your water tank is an integral element that prevents the tank from rusting. You’ll need an air compressor, an impact wrench, and a socket to unscrew the anode rod. Pull the rod out and check it for corrosion. The newer the rod, the less corrosion there will be, and you should replace the rod if it has fully corroded.
Test frequency: You can inspect the anode rod every year, but you should do it every three years at minimum. You’ll likely have to replace the rod every five years.
3. Give the Tank a Flush
Flushing your hot water tank should be an annual task, as it will get rid of sediment and mineral buildup that can corrode the tank, and make your water heater less efficient.
To flush the tank:
- Shut off the gas/circuit breaker and the water supply
- Attach a hose to the drain pipe and take the other end outside or to a drain
- Open the drain valve and the temperature and pressure release valve
- Let the tank drain
- Turn the water back on and flush a few gallons of water through the tank
- Close the drain valve and the pressure valve
- Fill the tank
- Turn the power back on
4. Check and Lower the Temperature
Many water heaters come pre-set from the manufacturer at 140° F, and this can lead to scalds and wasted money.
At 140° F, there’s a lot of heat lost through the tank and the pipes, that can never be recovered. You can save money and your skin by decreasing the temperature on the heater to 120° F.
5. Insulate the heater if necessary.
The best way to prevent that energy loss from your tank and pipes is to insulate them. Many newer tanks are insulated, but if yours feels warm to the touch, you should fit it with a water heater insulation blanket.
Similarly, if there’s no insulation on the outside of the pipes, you can save energy by outfitting them with insulating sleeves.
Home and appliance maintenance can be a little time-consuming, but it’s well worth the effort when you consider the time, money, and headaches you can save with a little preventative action. For help with repairs, maintenance, or other seasonal plumbing tasks around your Allentown, PA house, call Schuler Service Inc. today at (610) 991-7098.