In preparation for the cold season, your home must undergo some repairs and tune-ups to prevent property damages and inconvenience (like your furnace dying on you in the dead of winter). However, don’t ever forget to include your water heater on the list of things you should prep before winter begins.
Here, we list the most basic water heater maintenance tips you should perform in preparation for the fall and winter.
Insulate the water tank and pipes
If you insulate your pipes and water tank, it becomes easier for your heater to work efficiently, plus it uses less energy.
You can insulate your water heater by wrapping its pipes and tank with foil, which you can easily buy from your local hardware store. This is a simple DIY project that only takes a few hours.
Another option is to buy a pre-cut insulation jacket, which you can also purchase from a local hardware store.
Flush the tank
Flushing out the tank means emptying your water tank to remove the sediment that settles at its bottom. This mineral buildup can shorten the lifespan of your heater and force it to work harder than necessary, which translates to higher energy bills.
A good rule of thumb is to flush out your tank once a year or every six months if your water has high levels of calcium and other minerals.
To empty your tank, you need to shut off the power supply before running hot water for 10-15 minutes to increase the temperature inside. Then, turn off the cold water valve and use a garden hose to drain any remaining water.
Adjust the temperature
Winter causes the water temperature to drop, which means that your usual setting is not enough to heat the water, which needs to travel through [cold] pipes.
A good rule of thumb is to increase the water heater temperature by 5-10 degrees from your usual summer setting to ensure your comfort.
Check the pressure
If the water pressure is too high, it can lead to many mechanical problems. Most experts recommend keeping it between 40 and 80 psi, which is the sweet spot. To check the pressure relief valve, gently pull it up and see if it allows the hot water to be expelled from the discharge tube. If you observe that this is happening, it means the valve is functioning well.
Inspect the anode rods
Also called sacrificial rods, anode rods are the components that prevent the water heater from rusting and corroding. They are often made of aluminum or magnesium with a steel core.
These rods protect the tank by reacting with the water and corroding a bit slowly. On average, they can last five years, although a good rule of thumb is to check them at least once a year.
Schedule a water heater repair and service
While you can do some DIY maintenance work, it remains ideal to have your water heater inspected by a professional at least once a year, ideally during fall to ensure that you will enjoy a comfortable water temperature throughout the winter.
Also, when you see telltale signs of “serious” problems, it is best to hire pros than resort to DIY repairs that could result in more damage.
There are the signs that you need a professional water heater repair:
- Hot water leakage
- Reduced hot water pressure
- Water temperature fluctuations
- Rusty water
- Weird noises from the tank
- Water with an unpleasant smell
- Cloudy water
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Patrick’s Hot Water is a local water heater and plumbing expert servicing the communities of Roseville, Loomis, Lincoln, Granite Bay, Rocklin, and the surrounding areas.