One of the most important things in your living place is hot water. Especially in the winters, it makes all the difference with access to hot water adding to the coziness of the place. At the same time, your water heater has to work a lot harder to compensate for the rigid conditions and keep you and your family comfortable. A few basic and inexpensive tricks can help your water heater stay in optimum condition.
Check and Test the Pressure Valve
First and foremost is your safety, so before starting anything turn off the heater and the cold-water supply valve. Place a bucket under the pipe connecting to the temperature-pressure release valve (usually a marked valve on the top or side of the tank). Lift the tab to let some of the water come out then release.
Before you begin the process, turn off the water heater and the cold-water supply valve. Once you’ve turned it off, place a bucket under the pipe connected to the temperature-pressure release valve on the top or side of the tank. Lift the valve’s tab to let some of the water come out and then let go.
If the water keeps flowing, according to This Old House, drain the tank partway, unscrew the old valve with a pipe wrench, and install a new one. Please note, if the temperature-pressure release valve is open and nothing happens (no hissing air, dripping water, etc.) then it probably needs to be replaced. For a guide on how to install a new valve, click here.
PRO TIP: Use WD-40 Multi-use Product to clean off any signs of rust to prevent long term damage.
Flush the Tank
Flushing the tank would get rid of a lot of residue and sediment in the tank and help the heater be more efficient. Run a garden hose from the water heater drain to the outside of your home (for drainage). If the tank sits below grade, such as your basement, you will need a pump attachment to get the water to drain to higher ground. Once the drain flow is set up, open the water heater drain valve and let the tank drain completely, then turn on the water supply. Be sure to keep several large buckets on hand to capture the outflow of water.
Insulate the Pipes
The heat of the water also escapes from pipes exposed to the cold air. By insulating the pipes, you increase your water heater’s efficiency and longevity. A number of pipe insulation options are available in stores that can be used for insulation.
PRO TIP: Use WD-40 Multi-Use Product to prevent rust on the shut-off valve of your home’s main water source.
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