5 Water Heater Maintenance Tips to Try This Fall & Winter

There’s no denying it: winter is coming to Independence. That means there are a lot of home maintenance jobs to be done to get ready for the cold weather.


Among them, you shouldn’t neglect your water heater. In just a few simple steps, you can help prevent a breakdown, prolong its life and reduce the amount of energy it consumes.

1. Check the Pressure Release Valve

servicing-a-water-heaterWhen the temperature or pressure inside the tank gets too high, the pressure release valve automatically opens to prevent any accidents or mishaps.

Start by cutting off the water supply and shutting off the power, either at the breaker panel for electrical models, or by setting the thermostat to the pilot position on gas models.

With a bucket in place to catch the water, open the pressure release valve by lifting its tab. If no water comes out, or if it continues to flow after you have shut it off, you will require a new one. This can be purchased at a home improvement or plumbing supply store.

2. Check the Anode Rod

Inside your hot water tank, there is a magnesium or aluminum rod that attracts water’s corrosive elements to prevent your tank’s metal lining from rusting. When the rod itself becomes too corroded, it becomes less effective, putting your water heater at greater risk. With the power and water supply still shut off, drain a few gallons from the tank.

Then, loosen the anode rod’s hexagonal head with a 1 1/16” socket. An impact wrench may be required for tougher jobs.

Retrieve the rod and replace it if it is less than ½” in diameter, or if it appears rusted. Wrap Teflon tape around the thread of your new rod before installing it tightly in the tank.

3. Flushing the Tank

check-pressure-relief-valveSand, grit, and sediment accumulate on the bottom of your hot water tank over time. This debris robs your tank of some of its capacity and efficiency.

To clean it out, attach a garden hose to the drain valve and place the other end where the water can drain out safely, such as a floor drain or outside. With the power and water supply off, turn on a hot water tap nearby and open the drain valve to empty the tank. Then, open the cold water intake valve for a few seconds to stir remaining sediment and repeat until the water comes out clean.

4. Adjust the Thermostat

checking-water-heater-temperatureWe recommend setting your water heater thermostat to no higher than 120°F. This not only helps to avoid scalding but also keeps your energy consumption in check. You can save up to 5% on your energy costs for every 10° lower you set the thermostat.

5. Add Insulation

You can prevent costly heat loss by adding self-adhesive foam insulation on as much of your pipes as you can access. You can also insulate your tank by wrapping a foil thermal blanket around the sides, carefully cutting around the pipes and the thermostat and sealing it with foil tape.

The friendly experts at All-N-One Plumbing in Independence, MO are at your disposal to provide any water heater maintenance or service you may require. To speak with one of our professionals, call 816-866-7600.