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Water Heater 101: Getting Ready for Fall & Winter

There are lots of things that you may not know about your water heater, including what you can do to get it ready for the coming fall and winter. But water heaters do need some regular maintenance, and taking care of your unit properly could mean extending—and sometimes even doubling—it’s life expectancy.


Here are three fundamental maintenance issues you can tackle to prepare your water heater for the coming season.

Safety 101: TPR Valve and Temperature

check-pressure-relief-valveTwo integral water heater maintenance steps you should look after this fall or winter are safety-related, meaning even if you ignore all the other items on your to-do list, complete these two at least.

Test the TPR valve: This is a safety valve that opens to release water from the tank when the pressure and temperature inside the unit become too high. A faulty valve can, in fact, lead to an exploding water heater.

To test the valve, flick up the lever to open the valve, and watch to see that water pours out the discharge pipe. Lots of water means the valve is operational, but no water (or just a trickle) means it’s time to replace the TPR valve.

Lower the temperature: The temperature on your water heater can be adjusted, which may be necessary if it’s set too high, and especially if you have kids in the house. Many water heaters are pre-set by the manufacturer at 140° F, which can cause scalds and burns on skin. You can turn down the temperature to 120° F instead, and this will save sensitive skin from burns and lower your energy bills.

Rust 101: Keeping Your Water Heater Corrosion-Free

servicing-a-water-heaterA typical water heater won’t last longer than 13 years, but you can extend its life by protecting the tank from rust. There are two ways you can do this:

Inspect the anode rod: The anode rod sits in the water inside the tank and attracts elements that would otherwise rust the tank. But the rod should be inspected every three years at least and replaced every five years to ensure it continues working properly.

Flush the tank: Sediment that naturally builds up in the tank can create a breeding ground for bacteria and microbes that will eat away the metal of the tank, so you must flush the tank at least once a year to remove the sediment build up. As an added bonus, flushing the sediment will also make the tank run more efficiently.

Efficiency 101: Insulation

prepare-water-heater-for-cold-weatherOn the topic of efficiency, did you know that you can nearly double the efficiency of an older tank just by adding insulation?

If you have an older tank that doesn’t have insulation, get an insulating blanket for the tank itself, and outfit the pipes with insulating sleeves too. You’ll be able to turn down the temperature of the tank by a few degrees, you’ll get hot water coming out of the taps faster, and you’ll cut down on your energy bills.

Your water heater is an extremely important feature in your house, and you wouldn’t be able to properly or comfortably bathe, wash dishes, or tackle heavily soiled laundry without it. To help your water heater serve you better, and to keep your family safe, take on these maintenance steps this fall and winter.

If you find you need assistance along the way, the experienced technicians at Powell’s Plumbing in Winchester, VA are here to help. Call 540-665-8196 today to schedule an appointment.

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