Are one of the most depended on major appliance in our home. We often take for granted that when we reach for hot water in the kitchen or step into the shower, that we will not be surprised by cold water.
But just like other appliances, our water heater needs attention now and again to keep running smoothly. Here are a few simple maintenance tips for tank style water heaters that can keep your unit running as efficiently as possible.
A good place to start is to merely take a minute and look closely at your water heater. Is it wet on the floor where it is sitting? Is it leaking? Is the bottom of it rusting? Taking the time to make regular visual inspections could save you a lot of time and money in the future.
Once a year you should test your T&P (temperature & pressure valve). It is an important safety feature of your water heater and its ability to operate correctly should not be overlooked.
The T&P Valve is located at the top or side of the heater and has a discharge tube that runs toward the base.
1. Place a bucket under the discharge tube.
2. Lift up on the lever to open the valve. Hot water should travel through the discharge tube and into the bucket. Hold this for a few seconds, then let go to shut off the water.
3. Did the water shut off correctly? Did it leak at all? Is it leaking now? If you answered yes to any of these the valve needs to be replaced.
Water Heater Small Flush
1. Take that same bucket and place it under the drain valve. This valve can be found near the bottom of the heater tank. Loosen the valve and release 1-2 gallons of water into the bucket. Close the valve to stop the flow of water.
2. Is the water cloudy? If so, you may need to schedule a complete flush of your water heater.
The suggested water heater temperature by the US Dept. of Energy is 120 degrees. Water heaters are often set up to 140 by the manufacturer. You can save yourself both energy cost and lessen the work of your water heater by lowering the temperature.
Your water heater may have a simple gauge on the side, or it may have a temperature dial that has a cover. If its has a cover, unscrew it and use a flathead screwdriver to adjust the temperature.
Insulating the hot and cold water pipes are an easy and inexpensive project. And while you are doing that, insulating the tank itself can help as well. Just make sure to not cover any gauges or caps, only insulate the tank itself. Pipe insulation and water heater blankets are an affordable purchase at most hardware stores.
Just like us, helping our water heater work smarter, not harder, can increase its efficiency and extend its life.