Water Heaters Work Harder in Winter
Most of us don’t give a lot of thought to the water heater. It’s just something we take for granted most of the time, expecting it to provide hot water whenever we need it. However, the water heater takes on a larger workload in winter.
The water heater needs regular maintenance just like your car does, and fall and winter is one of the best times to perform these steps. If you’re a new homeowner or aren’t familiar with water heater maintenance, you may find these topics especially informative. Today, we will talk about how to get your water heater ready for the upcoming winter and holiday season and help to prevent damage to your water heater and your home.
The standing heat loss from the tank of a standard storage water heater is much higher in winter. With most water heaters being located in areas of your home that don’t receive direct heating, such as basements and garages, they are susceptible to rapid temperature drops. The water coming in is colder when it enters the water heater tank because it has lost heat through the pipe walls on the way to a house. This causes the heating system to work longer than it normally would, and can cause it to stop working.
Most families tend to use more hot water during winter – hot showers last longer on a cold morning! It’s important for homeowners to pay attention to how the water heater is working and how well it keeps the water hot. If the temperature of the hot water drops, you should not turn up the temperature on the tank – this can lead to scalding! You should call a professional plumbing service right way and schedule maintenance on the water heater. If any repairs need to be made, they can do it safely and appropriately.
Here are a few tips from All-n-One Plumbing to help with winter maintenance of your water heater.
Test the T&P Valve – Prevent Explosions
Water heaters can explode, but it is not a common occurrence. In fact, every water heater is equipped with a safety device called a temperature and pressure relief valve that’s designed to prevent drastic accidents. To ensure that the T&P valve is working properly, open the metal lever to open the valve. If water is pouring from the discharge pipe, the T&P valve is working as it should; if there is no water, or just a few drops, the valve needs to be replaced.
Rust Prevention and the Anode Rod
Water heaters are equipped with an anode rod to keep rust away from the walls of the tank. Anode rods will corrode over time and stop working. When this happens, the anode rod must be replaced to keep the tank from rusting. Make sure you check the anode rod for corrosion every couple years and replace it every five years.
Prevent Bacteria – Flush the Tank
Sediment, minerals, and elements that are in the water that comes into your house fills the water heater and can get trapped in the bottom of the tank. This buildup not only causes the tank to rust, it also creates a breeding ground for bacteria. The bacteria gets into drinking water, bath water, and dishwater. To prevent contamination, the tank should be flushed at least once a year. Drain the water out and run clean water through the tank, refilling the tank with new water.
Adjust the Temperature
Another way to prevent bacteria from getting into the water is to increase the temperature of the water heater to 140º F; this will kill bacteria without scalding skin. Leave the water heater temperature at this setting for 1-2 days to kill the bacteria, then adjust the temperature back to the normal 120º F. During the days with higher water temperature, take extra precautions to test the temperature of the water before showers or submerging yourself, children, or pets in hot water.
Prevent Loss of Energy – Insulate
Adding insulation to the tank and pipes of the water heater improves its efficiency and lets you reduce the temperature of the water without changing the water coming out of the taps. If the tank feels warm to the touch, wrap it with an insulating jacket or blanket. If there is no insulation on the pipes, cut some insulating sleeves and secure them to the pipes.
It’s very important that you protect your family, your home, and your water heater. Following these tips can help prevent damage to the water heater unit itself.
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.