Water Heater Maintenance: Get Ready for Winter

Winter is approaching, and the last thing we want to happen when temperatures start to drop is to discover that we need to repair or replace our water heater. Here at Einstein Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling, we wanted to share these simple tips for winterizing your water heater to make sure you are warm and cozy this upcoming winter season.

Note: When examining our water heater always remember to wear protective gear, follow the instructions to turn off your water heater, and shut off the cold-water inlet to the tank.

Tip 1: Test the TPR Valve

Both gas and electric water tanks have a temperature pressure relief (TPR) valve on the top or side of the tank. The TPR valve will open if the pressure inside the tank gets too high to prevent an explosion. To test, lift the trip lever on the valve then release again. We should see some water or hear a faint hiss of air exit through the valve. If we don’t, or water keeps flowing after we release the lever, then we need to replace the TPR valve.

Tip 2: Check the Anode Rod

The anode rod works to capture corrosive elements in water, so they don’t eat through the lining of our water tank. If your tank is more than 2-3 years old, you should inspect the anode rod annually. It’s natural to see more pitting and surface corrosion, but if the anode rod is covered in calcium, missing pieces, or has dissolved to less than a 1-2 inch thick, then it’s time for us to replace it.

Tip 3: Drain the Tank and Clean Out Sediment

The sediment build-up can make our water heater run less efficiently, which results in higher energy bills. It can clog our water lines. Flushing the tank 1-2 times a year can significantly extend the lifespan and performance of our water heater.

Tip 4: Adjust the Temperature

Check the temperature setting on your water heater. If it is set to 125 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, consider turning it down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This is still hot enough for regular household needs, and we can expect to save between 3-5% in energy costs for each 10 degrees we reduce the temperature.

Tip 5: Insulate Your Tank & Pipes

Most newer water heaters come pre-insulated. If you have an older tank, you can cause use a fiberglass jacket to help improve performance. Ensure to cut the insulation to fit around pipes, the TPR valve, and the temperature controls — be careful not to cover the top of gas or oil heaters. We can also buy foam pipe insulators to fit around any exposed water pipes in our home. The insulation will keep the hot water in our pipes warmer for a more extended period between uses. This will result in lower energy costs and a shorter waiting time for the hot water to kick in!

Routine maintenance for our hot water heater will extend its lifespan, lower our energy bill, and guarantee that we have a steady supply of hot water available whenever we need it. If you want assistance or inspection on your water heater, contact the experts at Einstein Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling today! 

Our fully licensed plumbers in Oregon, Washington, and Nevada can service, repair, or upgrade your water heater to best fit your needs. We also offer a vast range of residential and commercial plumbing, heating and cooling, and sewer & mainline services.  Reach us at 888-671-7767 or email [email protected] today, and we’ll take care of your needs.

You may want to check out our other plumbing articles: