WATER HEATER MAINTENANCE TIPS TO EXTEND ITS LIFESPAN
OCT 23, 2017
Whether you want to extend the life of a water heater or increase its overall efficiency, there are numerous water heater maintenance tips you can use to proactively take care of the unit and avoid needing a hot water heater repair later on. In this article, we will outline three main water heater maintenance tips all homeowners should follow.
HOW TO EXTEND THE LIFE OF A WATER HEATER?
WATER HEATER MAINTENANCE TIP #1: ADD INSULATION
Whether you are a frequent reader of our articles or homeowner publications in general (or if you watch a lot of HGTV), you are probably already familiar with all of the amazing benefits to adding insulation to your home — it helps your house remain cool in the summer and warm in the winter, leading to a ton of benefits in terms of energy efficiency and helps extend the life of various systems like your HVAC. But many homeowners are unaware that insulating your water heater can have a huge impact on your water heater efficiency, and thus its lifespan, by reducing the amount of ambient heat lost by as much as 45 percent, significantly lowering the costs associated with water heating reflected on your utility bills.
In addition to insulating the water heater with a foal blanket, consider adding foam pipe insulation to pipes — hot and cold water. In the summer time, the insulation will prevent condensation from the cold-water pipes.
To complete this water heater maintenance tip yourself, enlist the help of a friend or family member. You will need a tape measure, marker, scissors, a water heater insulating blanket, gloves and a dust mask, as well as electrical tape (may be included with the water heater insulating blanket if you buy a kit).
Turn off the water heater by turning off the appropriate breaker in the electric panel for an electric water heater, or by turning the gas valve to the “pilot” position for a gas water heater.
Measure your water heater and, if necessary, cut off part of the insulating blanket. You will want to make sure that the top of the water heater remains open and, for gas water heaters, take special care that the gas vent on top is not obstructed.
Then you will wrap the blanket around the water heater and loosely tape it into place — you won’t be leaving it taped up just yet. Because most water heaters only have one access panel on the side, think through the way you wrap the water heater so that the panel can be easily accessed when needed in the future.
Using your marker, mark the places on the blanket where the controls for the water heater are. Electric water heaters will have two panels on the side of the tank. Gas water heaters will need generous holes (at least 1 inch of space) around the valve and burner areas. You will also need to mark holes to be cut out for the pressure relief valve and the pipe that sticks out of the side of the water heater.
Remove the blanket and cut the holes you have marked.
Replace the blanket on the water heater, taping in place again (this time securely), while being careful that you line up all of the holes you have cut out with the corresponding parts on the water heater.
You should now be ready to turn the water heater back on. Be sure that the thermostat on the water heater is not set above 130ºF, or the wiring may overheat with the added insulation.
WATER HEATER MAINTENANCE TIP #2: SET THE APPROPRIATE TEMPERATURE
Quick! Do you know what temperature your water heater is set to? If not, don’t worry. Most homeowners don’t think to check the temperature of their water heater’s thermostat unless something is already going wrong with the system. Furthermore, most people’s hot water heaters remain set at a temperature of 140ºF, simply because that is where manufacturers tend to set them. In addition to posing a potential scalding hazard, having the temperature on the water heater set this high can cost households money. By turning it down to 120ºF or 130ºF can save your household nearly $500 annually in energy costs as well as helping extend the life of a water heater. The Environmental Protection Agency has a nice summary of considerations for which temperature you should use (some appliances like dishwashers will require you set to 130ºF rather than 120ºF), as well as step-by-step instructions for how to adjust this temperature.
Water heater maintenance tip #3: Maintain proper clearance around the water heater
WATER HEATER MAINTENANCE TIP #3: GET YOUR WATER HEATER ITS ANNUAL CHECKUP
Are you serious about how to extend the life of a water heater? In addition to the one-time water heater maintenance tips listed above, your water heater also needs ongoing inspection and maintenance to ensure peak performance. A quick consultation with a professional specializing in water heater maintenance and hot water heater repair will help you identify any potential issues with your water heater and opportunities to further improve its performance. Then, schedule regular service to have all of the water heater’s component inspected, tank flushed and all of the other things that go into keeping a water heater operating at its best.
To have one of our experienced technicians come take a look at your hot water heater today, give us a call. We pride ourselves on fast, reliable service and there is no job too big or too small!