Water Heater Maintenance
Getting caught up on fall plumbing chores? Add water heater maintenance to the list! Regular upkeep will help your heater perform better and last longer. That’s why we’ve put together some hot water heater maintenance tips for homeowners. Some of these are simple DIY tasks, while others are a bit more complex. If you decide to tackle these maintenance chores on your own, proceed with caution. Remember that you’re dealing with very hot water.
Water Heater Maintenance Tips
To help enhance your hot water heater’s performance and heating efficiency, follow these water heater maintenance tips:
- Drain your water heater at least once a year to remove sediment and prevent rust (twice a year if you have hard water). First, shut off the power and water supply valve. Then, carefully drain the tank by connecting a hose to the drain valve and running it to a 5-gallon bucket or nearby floor drain. Open the cold-water valve briefly to stir up sediment at the bottom of the tank. Drain and repeat until clean water comes out of the hose.
- Adjust the temperature. Remove the cover from the temperature dial and lower it to 120°F using a flathead screwdriver. This will save energy and help keep your utility bill down.
- Insulate the pipes. Cover the hot-water and cold-water pipes as far as you can reach with 3/8-inch self-stick foam pipe insulation. This will help prevent condensation in the summer and freezing in the winter.
- Insulate the water heater. Cover the heater with foil-covered bubble wrap cut to fit around the pipes, TPR valve, and temperature dial. Seal the cuts with foil tape. **If you have an oil or gas heater, do not cover the top.**
- Test the temperature-pressure-release (TPR) valve. Make sure the power and cold-water supply valve are shut off. Place a bucket under the pipe connected to the TPR valve. Lift the valve’s tab to let some water out, then let go. If water keeps flowing, the TPR valve needs to be replaced.
- Check the anode rod. Drain a few gallons of water from the tank. Fit a 1 1/16-inch socket onto the rod’s hex head on top of the heater (or under its top plate) and unscrew the rod. If it’s less than 1/2-inch thick or coated with calcium, it needs to be replaced. Watch this video on how to change the anode rod. Or, contact an experienced plumber for help.
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