With the cold winter months fast approaching, you will undoubtedly be interested in learning how you can keep your water heater healthy this winter. As well as ensuring that it does not break down when you really need it, you will probably want to find out tips for improving its efficiency and even reducing those ever-expensive utility bills. Well, you came to the right place. In the following post you will find some great actionable advice that will help you to minimize damage to your water heater, while increasing its efficiency and life-expectancy.
This should go without saying really, but as a lot of people don’t seem to know where their water heater is, if they are renting for instance, it is worth mentioning this first. You should not just know where the water heater is in your home, but should make sure that you have clear and unobstructed access to it. Often water heaters are hidden away in the basement or attic and it can mean the plumbing can be quite tricky to reach. So, find yours and make the pathway to it as clear as possible.
It is crucial that you know exactly what type of water heater you have in your home. Is it tank-less water heater or a storage tank heater? Is it propane, electric or even natural gas? Consult your landlord if you are renting or look at the heater or the manual it came with to find out the information. Failing that speak to the company that supplied your water heater. You should also take a note of the serial number and model number, or at least know how to locate this information on the actual tank, as the gallon capacity and age are coded into it. This is essential if you need to refer to your warranty and is typically one of, if not the first question the water heater repair company or a plumber will ask you.
Another piece of information that can be helpful, especially when you are faced with water heater problems, is how you turn the water off. You should also learn how to switch off the power supply or fuel to your water heater too. This is crucial from a safety point of view, if you smell gas or know your water heater is leaking. There is usually a disconnect switch or a gas valve only a few feet away from the heater. Knowing the breaker that is used for your water heater and where the main shut-off gas for your property’s gas supply is located, are also helpful.
The majority of water shut-off valves are situated on the cold side piping above the water heater. You should be able to locate your water shut-off valve entering your home. If opening the breaker box or turning the valve to the off position requires any specific tools, store these somewhere safely, but easily to find. This will make a whole world of difference in time-sensitive situations when you smell gas or water is leaking allover your house.
One of the problems with where water heaters are normally placed in your home is that they are often places where you store stuff away out of sight, out of mind. While you may not know it, this can not only damage the water heater, but pose health and safety risks.
Therefore, it is wise to keep the area surrounding your water heater clear, for some very good reasons such as:
Items that are stored too close to a water heater pose a fire risk
If the water heater starts to leak, you might not be able to catch it soon enough if you can’t see it clearly. This can not only result in needlessly wasting energy as the heater continues to reheat and reheat the water, but can also cause extensive water damage to your property.
A unit operated by a gas fire requires a considerable amount of oxygen to enable it to burn the gas. If something is smothering your water heater or it just can’t get enough oxygen, it can cause damage to the burner chamber or other important parts and even reduce the efficiency of the heater. This can even lead to serious health risks such as carbon monoxide leakages. Carbon monoxide is particularly dangerous because it is odorless and not easily detected.
Every year, at least once, you should drain at least a few gallons of water from your water heater, using the drain valve. You can do this by using either a garden hose or a 5 gallon bucket. When using a hose, run it to a place where the hot water coming out will not cause any damage. With this in mind, it is best to avoid draining the water onto your lawn or yard as it could kill the grass.
A full flush is advised if you notice debris and sediment. A full flush involves turning the temperature right down and completely draining the tank until it is empty. You then turn the water back on, with the drain still open and allow the water to flow out for at least a minute to remove any remaining debris or sediment.
You can turn the thermostat back up to your preferred setting once you have completed the task and the tank is full again.
Begin at the top of your water heater and look out for any serious corrosion or leaks on the valves and piping. With gas-powered water heaters, inspect the draft hood and ensure it is installed correctly. There should always be a few inches of air space between the part that connects to the vent and the tank. Also be aware of any wear and tear or corrosion on the piping and gas line. Thoroughly check where the gas chamber is situated and the thermostat and area below it.
If you happen to spot any charred metal, soot or black residue during your inspection; you should contact a professional to assess and service your water heater as this could be a sign of combustion issues. If you smell any hint of gas, switch your gas supply off immediately and call a professional. With electric-powered water heaters, check for signs of any leaking like residue or rust lines around lower and upper panels that cover the tank’s electrical parts. If you ever smell gas, turn off the gas supply and contact a professional.