Water heaters don’t receive very much attention even though they do come with some very impressive stats. Consider for a moment, your water heater is working around the clock 24/7/365. Water heaters take second place only to home heating/cooling systems regarding overall home energy consumption. Water heaters make your hot showers possible. Add to that water heaters never ever complain. The least that one could do for such a valuable home appliance is show it a little TLC and preparation before the winter season shovels off. Here’s what to do!
INSPECT THE WATER HEATER
The first place to look when you are inspecting your water heater is the area around it. Is there anything stored close to the water heater? For safety reasons, make sure your water heater isn’t crowded by anything—no boxes, no brooms, no bikes, no rakes or nothing else at all.
Next, look for corrosion and rust at seams and gaskets of the water heater. Look around and beneath the water heater for pooling water that would indicate a water leak. If you have a gas water heater, look to see if the vent connector (the elbow vent running from the water heater up and then horizontally to the vertical vent) is correctly connected to the vent.
TEST TEMPERATURE AND PRESSURE RELIEF VALVE
The most important feature of your water heater is the temperature and pressure relief valve (TPR valve). The TPR valve is designed to prevent the water heater from exploding due to the internal water temperature and pressure rising too high.
To test the TPR valve, locate the valve high on the side of the water heater. Place a bucket beneath the long tube extending from the valve. Open the TPR valve switch for 3 seconds, and then close it. If the valve continues to leak water after you close it, call your plumber because the TPR valve should be replaced. If water releases from the valve very slowly under low pressure, call your plumber immediately to repair or replace the valve because it has become clogged with sediment and/or debris.
ADJUST THERMOSTAT TEMPERATURE
If you turned back the thermostat for the summer to save energy, you may want to turn it up just a notch for the winter, if you like hotter showers. To test the actual temperature of the hot water going to your appliances and faucets, hold a thermometer at the hot water outlet closest and farthest from the water heater. Add the two readings and divide by two for the average. 120 degrees is a good energy-saving temperature, and 130 degrees should be maximum hot water temperature for safety against scalding.
SCHEDULE PROFESSIONAL WATER HEATER MAINTENANCE
Nothing beats professional annual water heater maintenance from your trusted plumber. Schedule a water heater inspection with your trusted plumber before winter weather arrives. Your plumber will test the TPR valve and check for corrosion.
He or she will also test many other components, such as the anode rod (up for replacement every 3 to 4 years), the dip tube (tends to break apart or disintegrate), water valves, vent connector if applicable, vent, combustion chamber, check water and gas lines for leaks, and more. This could include draining the water heater and cleaning the bottom of the storage tank. Draining and cleaning help extend its useful life span and provide better heating efficiency (remember, your water heater uses a lot of energy—second only to the heating/cooling system).
If you need to schedule water heater repair, water heater replacement, or water heater maintenance with a trusted plumber, call us at MN Plumbing and Home Services (952) 469-8341! We’re available for emergency plumbing services, too!