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water heater maintenance

Water Heater Maintenance: A Winter Prep Check List

While we may be in the dog days of summer right now, we all know that the long, wet, Seattle winter is approaching. The last thing you want to happen when temperatures start to drop is to discover you need to replace your water heater. Here are some tips for winterizing your water heater to make sure you aren’t left in the cold!

Note: When inspecting your water heater remember to always wear protective gear, follow the instructions to turn off your water heater, and shut off the cold-water inlet to the tank.

Tip 1. Test the TPR Valve

Both gas and electric water tanks have a temperature pressure release (TPR) valve on the top or side of the tank. This valve will open if the pressure inside the tank gets too high in order to prevent an explosion. To test, lift the trip lever on the valve then release it again. You should see some water or hear a faint hiss of air exit through the valve. If you don’t, or water keeps flowing after you release the lever, than you need to replace the TPR valve.

Tip 2. Check the Anode Rod

The anode rod works to capture corrosive elements in water so they don’t eat through the lining of your water tank. If your tank is more than 2-3 years old, you should inspect the anode rod annually. It’s normal to see some pitting and surface corrosion, but if the rod is covered in calcium, missing pieces, or has dissolved to less than a ½ inch thick, then it’s time for it to be replaced.

Tip 3. Drain the Tank and Wash Out Sediment

The build up of sediment can make your water heater run less efficiently, which results in higher utility bills. It can also clog your water lines. Flushing the tank 1-2 times a year can greatly extend the lifespan and performance of your water heater.

Tip 4. Adjust the Temperature

Take a look at the temperature setting on your water heater. If it is set to 125° F or higher, consider turning it down to 120° F. This is still hot enough for regular household needs and you can expect to save between 3-5% percent in energy costs for each 10 degrees the temperature is lowered!

Tip 5. Insulate You Tank & Pipes

Many newer water heaters come pre-insulated. If you have an older tank, you can use a fiberglass jacket to help improve performance. Make sure to cut the insulation to fit around pipes, the TPR valve, and the temperature controls — be careful not to cover the top of gas or oil heaters! You can also buy foam pipe insulators to fit around any exposed water pipes in your home The insulation will keep the hot water in your pipes warmer for a longer period of time between uses. This means lower energy expenses and a shorter wait for the hot water to kick in!

Regular maintenance for your hot water heater will extend its lifespan, lower your energy bill, and ensure that you have a steady supply of hot water available whenever you need it. If you want assistance or discover an issue with your water heater, contact the experts at Best Plumbing today! Our fully licensed plumbers can service, repair, or upgrade your water heater to best fit your needs.

For more plumbing tips and tricks, visit our blog or YouTube channel!

Photo Credit: paolobros, available under Creative Commons CCO.

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