Tips to Keep Your Water Heater in Top Shape this Winter
Although Florida doesn’t see the major drops in temperature that our Northern friends get during the winter months, we still have our fair share of random chilly nights. Between decorating and tedious maintenance, there is much to do as you prepare your home for winter this season. One task frequently left on the back-burner, hidden beneath the countless tasks of the holidays, is to tune up your water heater.
Imagine the comfort of a hot shower after a day of hanging up Christmas lights all around the yard, only to be interrupted by an unexpected eye-widening blast of freezing water. Unless you’re intentionally hoping to improve your blood flow with a bit of cold shower therapy, it doesn’t sound like a way to unwind, does it?
Fortunately, this problem can be avoided as long as you take the steps to prevent any potential issues with your water heater. Follow our team at John the Plumber’s guide to keep your water heater functioning at peak performance throughout the winter!
#1 Clear the Surrounding Space
Before conducting any inspection or maintenance, ensure the area directly surrounding the water heater is clear of clutter. If your water heater lives in a room that also serves as a storage space, clutter can easily build up in your water heater’s “safety zone.”
For safe operation, allow approximately two feet of leeway between the appliance and any other items.
#2 Test the Temperature and Pressure Relief Valve
Too much pressure is never a good thing for your mind, body, and spirit—nor your water heater. If the temperature or pressure grows too high inside your water heater tank, leaks or even explosions can occur. Best case scenario, this will shorten the life of your heater. The temperature and pressure (TPR) valve maintains safe levels by automatically opening to release excess vapor.
Before checking the TPR valve, turn off the water and power supply. Place a bucket beneath the drainpipe under the TPR valve. Open the valve quickly two or three times. When open, some water should escape. If no water comes out when the valve is open or the water continues running after it is closed, it might be time for a TPR valve replacement.
Too much pressure in your water heater tank can be dangerous - causing leaks and catastrophic explosions.
#3 Check the Anode Rod
The anode rod in the tank, made from either magnesium or aluminum, protects your tank from corrosion by attracting harmful and problematic minerals. Eventually, the anode rod will corrode and ultimately will need replacing.
To inspect the rod—with the power and water supply turned off—lift it out of the tank to check for rusting. To safely remove it, find the rod’s hex head with a 1 1/16 inch socket. If the rod has worn down to 1/2 inches or less or is coated in sediment, it will need to be replaced. You can purchase a new one at most hardware stores.
If you notice any rust or sediment on your water heater or discolored water coming from your faucets, your water heater may need replacing. Don’t fret - we are here to help, but don’t wait to give John the Plumber a call at 954-781-4823!
#4 Flush the Tank
To prevent sediment and other particles from building up inside your water heater, it’s important to flush the tank several times per year. To do so, attach a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank with the other end in a bucket.
Briefly turn the water supply back on to stir up any remaining sediment. If the water is cloudy and dirty, repeat this process until the water runs clear.
#5 Insulate Your Water Heater
You can save energy and protect your pipes from the cold by properly insulating your pipes and tank. Most hardware stores offer foil insulation sleeves and blankets, but be aware that many modern water tanks have built-in insulation.
If your water heater needs insulating, wrap the tank walls with a blanket, sealing with foil tape. The top of electric water heaters can be covered, but avoid capping gas water heaters.
#6 Adjust the Thermostat
You can further save energy (and prevent hot water burns on sensitive skin) by setting your water heater’s thermostat to a lower setting of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Just a 10-degree difference on your thermostat can save you up to 5% on energy costs.
When Maintenance Isn’t Enough > Signs You Need a New Water Heater
Say Goodbye to Icy Showers and Hello to Hot Water
If you’re unsure of handling any of the suggestions above or fear you have gone a season too long without a proper water heater inspection, don’t hesitate to reach out to our friendly team at John the Plumber.
We’ve been trusted by Pompano Beach Area residents for over 40 years. We have the qualifications and tools to complete a proper water heater inspection and fix any issues. We promise to treat your home as if it were our own. Go ahead, schedule water heater repairs or maintenance with John the Plumber today!