Water heaters are one of the many joys of modern life. Having instantly hot water in your home for showers, baths, and hand washing is a luxury we can easily take for granted. Until the water heater breaks, that is. Keeping your water heater in good, working order is key to never having to take a cold shower or wash your dishes in freezing water ever again. To make sure your water heater is always there for you, here are some helpful maintenance tips.

Test Your T&P Valve

There is a safety valve on your water heater called T&P (or “temperature and pressure relief”) that acts like a fire extinguisher for your water heater. It opens when there is too much pressure in the tank and water begins to overheat, relieving the pressure and preventing an explosion. This valve is important to keep up, because if it doesn’t work properly, it could cause your tank to explode.

How to test your T&P Valve

To test the T&P valve, simply lift it up and down several times. This should lift the attached brass stem and allow hot water to drain from the stem. You should be able to hear water flowing as it releases into the drain tube. If you only hear a slight trickle of water or nothing at all, that might be there is an issue with the valve. If this is the case, be sure to schedule some time for us to come out and replace the valve for you.

Check the Anode Rod

You will need to check the anode rod. This is usually a long metal rod in the center of the tank that protects it from corrosion. If you see the anode rod decaying, it is time to replace it with a new one. You can get anodes in your local hardware store, or through Amazon if you have trouble finding one locally.

Drain the Tank and Wash Out Sediment

If you have a water heater, you should drain the tank and clean out any sediment that has grown inside. This will prevent damage to your home’s plumbing system by clearing out minerals that build up over time.

Adjust the Temperature

If you’re using an electric water heater, turn the temperature to 120 degrees. Do this by turning the dial on your thermostat to “120”. You can also adjust the temperature with a digital remote control.

If you have a tankless water heater your temperature should be set at whatever temperature is comfortable for you. Usually between 110-120 degrees. You don’t want to set your tankless water heater temperature too high because tankless water heaters are activated by the flow of water through them. Setting the temperature too high will cause you to have to mix cold water back in to reach your desired temperature. This wastes energy(gas). This also causes you to use less hot water and will cause your tankless to stop heating because it thinks there is not a demand for hot water.

Insulate Your Tank Water Heater

Insulating your water heater properly can help your heater perform more effectively and even lower your power bill. In many cases, however, traditional insulated blankets can cause safety hazards or code violations.

To find out what method is right for your water heater and home, consult with a plumber.

Insulate the Pipes

In addition to insulating your water heater, you should also be sure to insulate the pipes leading from it. This can help prevent damage caused by freezing weather conditions. If you have an unheated area of your home—for example, a garage or basement—that gets below freezing during winter months, consider adding insulation around those pipes.

You can use pipe insulation or buy a heat tape for this purpose. Make sure that you wrap the tape tightly around each pipe and secure it with wire ties so that no heat can escape through the walls. You should also consider insulating any piping near faucets in order to prevent cold air from getting into your house through these areas as well as increasing energy efficiency by preventing heated water from escaping into colder spaces within your home before reaching its destination.

Water Heater Maintenance is Easy with a Little Practice (and a Little Help)

Your water heater is an important part of your home. With just a little practice, you can maintain your water heater and be aware of any concerning signs that may arise. However, if you are unsure of the best way to maintain your water heater, or you suspect there is an issue with it, feel free to reach out to Kay Plumbing for help. We are here to answer your questions and make sure your water heater is in good working order for years to come. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.