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Five Maintenance Tips to Get Your Water Heater Primed For Fall & Winter

As colder weather nears, you’ll want to make sure that your water heater is ready and able to deliver hot water for your family all season long. Here are a few helpful tips to keep your water ready to take on the winter chill.

1 - Check Your Anode Rod

check-pressure-relief-valveThe anode rod inside your water tank, made of magnesium or aluminum, helps to slow down the corrosion of the metal lining by attracting the corrosive elements in the water and rusting first.

Shut off the water supply and power to the water heater. Attach a garden hose to the drain valve located near the bottom of the tank and drain several gallons.

Using a 1 1/16” socket, unscrew the rod’s hexagonal head found on top of the tank. If the rod has corroded to less than a ½” in diameter, it’s time to replace it.

2 - Test the Temperature & Pressure Release Valve

Designed to prevent explosions, this valve opens to release pressure if it becomes too high inside the tank. With the power and water supply off, put a bucket under the drainpipe attached to the release valve.

Lift the tab to open the valve and let some water out. If water continues to flow after you have closed the valve, you may need to replace it by partially draining the tank, removing the old valve with a wrench and installing a new one.

3 - Drain the Tank

Over the course of time, sand and grit accumulate at the bottom of your water heater. That sediment can significantly impede the heater’s efficiency. With the power and water supply off, attach a hose to the drain valve, placing the other end in a floor drain or outside.

Alternatively, it can be drained using a bucket. Once the tank is empty, turn on the water supply to stir up sediment and repeat until the drained water runs clear.

checking-water-heater-temperature4 - Adjust the Temperature

The recommended temperature setting on your water heater is 120°F to avoid scalding. With the colder weather outside, you may find your water isn’t quite hot enough.

By raising it a few degrees, you will probably notice a significant difference. It’s important to note, however, that a 10-degree variance can affect your energy costs by as much as 5%.

5 - Add Insulation to Your Tank and Pipes

You can add some insulation to your tank and pipes to prevent heat loss and reduce your energy bills. Slip some self-adhesive 3/8” foam pipe insulation over your pipes as far as you can reach.

You probably won’t be able to access the pipes that run inside your walls, but insulating the exposed pipes will go a long way toward improving their energy efficiency.

Cut a foil insulating blanket to fit around pipes and valves, and leaving the thermostat controls exposed. Seal the blanket around the tank with foil tape. Electric models can be capped using a section of blanket cut into a circle and taped to the sides. The tops of gas or oil powered water heaters should not be covered.

These tasks are easy enough to do for most intermediate do-it-yourselfers, but if you would prefer to have an expert prepare your water heater for the winter, contact your local pros at Apple Valley Plumbing, in Apple Valley, MN at 612-387-1207.

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