It’s important to take care of your water heater. If you don’t, it could leak or worse. Don’t let your water heater ruin your day. Use these 5 easy water heater maintenance tips to ensure your water heater is working as efficiently as possible, so that it saves energy and lasts longer.
1. Insulate Your Water Heater
Energy.gov claims, “proper insulation can reduce stand-by heat loss by up to 45% and save up to 16% in water heating costs.”
If you have an older water heater that did not come insulated, it is most likely using more energy than it needs to. This is because more heat can be lost when your water heater is on stand-by, compared to an insulated water heater on stand-by. This can cause your water heater’s temperature to drop and the thermostat to trigger it back on more frequently. Simply put, without insulation, your water heater is working much harder to maintain its temperature, much like an air conditioner running while a window is open.
If your water heater isn’t insulated, you should wrap it with an insulated blanket. This will prevent heat loss and help it run more efficiently. These insulation blankets are economical and easy to install, and they can also extend the life of your water heater by decreasing the demand placed on your unit.
If your water heater is still under warranty, contact the water heater manufacturer before installing insulation. There are times when insulating your water heater may void your warranty.
2. Drain Your Water Heater
A second type of water heater maintenance is draining. Draining a few gallons of water from your water heater once a year will clear sediment that may build up and prevent it from running as efficiently as possible. It is important for you to be careful when you drain your water heater since the water will be extremely hot. Follow these steps to properly drain your water heater.
- Turn off your water heater.
- Secure a hose to the drain valve and run it to a safe place outside or place a bucket underneath the drain valve.
- Open your water heater’s drain valve.
- Let a gallon or two drain. If you notice excess debris or sediment, continue to drain your entire tank.
- Close your drain valve. If you drained the entire water heater, fill it back up with water.
- Turn your water heater back on.
If your water heater is 10 or more years old and has a plastic low point drain call a professional before draining it. This type of water heater may not turn off or may leak if you attempt to drain it.
3. Professional Water Heater Maintenance and Service
It is important for licensed professionals to service your water heater at least once a year. Professionals will be able to inspect parts of your water heater that are not safe for you to access. During a water heater maintenance visit, skilled professionals will also be able to recognize when parts of your water heater should be replaced, which will extend the life of your water heater and reduce the amount of energy it uses. Identifying when a part is on the brink of failure and proactively replacing it will not only keep you from having to possibly replace an entire water heater, but it may also save you from cleaning up a flooded basement.
4. Turn Down the Temperature
It may seem obvious, but turning down the temperature on your water heater will help save energy. Most water heaters are set at 130 degrees Fahrenheit by default, but many professional plumbers recommend dropping that default setting to between 115-120 degrees Fahrenheit. This will help save you energy and money. Couple your new water heater’s temperature with an insulation blanket and you may see immediate savings on your next utility bill.
5. Install a Heat Trap
New water heaters have heat traps built into them, but it is possible to retrofit your water heater with a heat trap. Heat traps allow cold water to enter your water heater, but do not allow heated water to flow from the unit. This takes advantage of convection heat and allows your water heater to run more efficiently. Installing a heat trap is simple and pre-fabricated heat traps can be purchased online. If you’re not comfortable adding a heat trap on your own, contact a professional and they will be able to either recommend a pre-fabricated heat trap, or a custom heat trap, also known as a goose neck, which is simply a coiled copper line.
With proper maintenance, you can extend the life of your water heater, help it run efficiently, and save yourself energy dollars. If your unit is more than ten years old, it may be time for an energy-efficient replacement. Contact our team of water heater professionals to learn more.