Has the hot water in your house been not so hot as of lately? That old water heater could be the root of all your problems. Depending on its condition and age, it may need to be replaced. Before you make such an expensive decision, perform maintenance to increase its current efficiency and longevity. Take a look at these steps for water heater maintenance.
Step 1: Test the TPR Valve
The temperature-pressure-release (TPR) valve releases water if the buildup of pressure is too much. This is a major safety component of the water heater. Before testing, be sure to place a bucket below the TPR pipe if the line is not already piped to the exterior of the home. Test the valve by lifting it up and letting go, which will let some of the water out. If water continues to flow out try and flip the valve a few more times. If the water still does not stop you should hire a plumber to replace the valve. It is better to have the valve fail when it is not needed rather than fail when it is needed.
Step 2: Check the Anode Rod
This is something that should be done by a licensed plumber. If the rod is less than ½ inch thick or rust is starting to form, it needs to be replaced. The anode rod is the sacrificial rod that will protect the water heater’s tank from aggressive water.
Step 3: Flush the Tank
Water heaters accumulate large amounts of sediment in the bottom of them. The heater should be flushed annually at a minimum and in very hard water areas it should be done twice a year. The key to this is flushing not draining. Simply hook a garden hose to the drain of the water heater. Make sure to drain the hose in rocks or a very mature tree. The water that discharges will be hot. Leave the gas or electric on and leave the water on. Open the drain valve and let the water run for 7-8 minutes. Tip: You can kink the hose then open it again to let the pressure build then release to create an effective flush of the sediment.
Step 4: Temperature
Keep the temperature of the water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Raising the temperature can cause bad burns and efficiency is lost quicker from higher water temperatures. If you’re planning on being away from home for more than three days, lower the water heater to its lowest temperature or turn it completely off. Gas water heaters can be set to vacation on the gas valve. Electric water heaters can be turned off.
Step 5: Insulate the Pipes
In colder climates or where the water heater is exposed to colder temperatures, you can insulate the piping. Measure the diameter of the hot and cold-water pipes typically ¾, and buy some self-sticking foam pipe insulation of the same diameter. Place the foam over the pipes to insulate them, which will prevent condensation in the summer and keep them warm in the winter.
Step 6: Insulate the Heater
Purchase an insulating blanket and cut it to fit the tank of the water heater, leaving spaces for the pipes, TPR valve, and the thermostat. Tape the blanket closed with foil tape. If your heater is oil or gas, leave the top uncovered. This also applies to colder climates or where your water heater might be exposed to cold temperatures.
For additional tips on maintaining your water heater, click here.
With just a few steps, you can make your water heater more efficient and extend its lifespan, all without breaking the bank for a replacement. If your water heater is too far gone and you need a new one installed, call the experts at Plumbing Medic to get the job done for you! With same day service available, we can have that new water heater installed today. Give us a call today at (602) 975-2306.