Water heating appliances use a good deal of energy, second only to keeping your home comfortable with your HVAC system. Routine water heater maintenance gives this hard-working appliance a longer lifetime and cuts your energy costs.
Before you work on the water heater, turn its circuit breaker off. In the case of gas water heaters, turn the temperature setting to pilot or “vacation.”
Drain a few quarts from the water heater at least twice a year to remove the hard water deposits that collect at the bottom. To do this, turn the cold water supply off and hook up a garden hose to the spigot at the bottom of the tank and drain it into a bucket or a floor drain. Water contains dissolved mineral solids that eventually sink to the bottom of the tank. These deposits make it harder to heat water, driving up energy consumption. Turning the water heater down to 120 degrees slows the formation of hard water deposits and lowers its energy use.
Another necessary part of water heater maintenance is checking the pressure relief valve. This valve prevents water heaters from building too much pressure. It will open when the pressure builds too high and release vapor and possibly some water. To test, push on the lever or follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Avoid spilling water on the floor by holding a bucket just under the valve. If no vapor or water appears when you test the valve, contact a plumber to have it replaced.
If you notice the water heater’s tank is warm to the touch, insulate the tank to improve its energy efficiency. Home improvement stores sell insulating blankets that slow the standby losses that occur as heat radiates from the tank.
Also insulate the pipes leaving the water heater. Pipe insulation is easy to apply and prevents heat losses as the hot water travels to the faucets.
For professional help with water heater maintenance, contact Team Bob’s Heating Cooling Plumbing. We’ve provided top-notch plumbing and HVAC services for homeowners in and around Grand Traverse County for more than 30 years.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Traverse City, Michigan and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about water heaters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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