No one wants to run out of hot water in the middle of the coldest winter months. To prevent this happening, it's essential to have your water heater expertly inspected before the winter starts. As winter is a popular time for water heater tune-ups, it's better to book sooner rather than later to get the service you need. Here are 6 things that should be checked on your water heater before winter starts.
1. Temperature Pressure Regulator
The temperature pressure regulator is located on the side or top of your hot water tank, and is designed to open to prevent explosion in the event that the pressure or temperature in the tank builds too high. You can check the temperature pressure regulator by lifting the small test lever on the top of the valve. A small amount of steam or hot water should escape from the tank. If nothing escapes, or the valve continues to leak after the test, it will need replacement or expert service from a plumber.
2. Anode Rod
The sacrificial anode rod is located on the top of the tank, and is designed to rust first, in order to prevent your tank from rusting. The sacrificial anode rod should last for up to 5 years, but needs to be checked annually, and just before winter is the ideal time. Inspect your anode rod and check to see if it's been calcified or eroded away to less than 1/4 inch thick. If so, have your anode rod replaced by your plumber.
3. Temperature Settings
We want our hot water hot in winter, but turning the temperature down 1-2 degrees on your tank or instant water heater conserves energy and provides savings on your utility bill.
4. Leaks and Connections
A water heater leak can drain all the hot water from your home and cause devastating flooding. Even a small leak can cause significant health and safety problems for your home, and add up to thousands of gallons of water wasted over the year. Leaks could be from the connections or pipes going into or leading out of the water heater, or from the tank itself. Look for signs of leaks, like pooling water, water stains or rising water bills. If you can't see the leak yourself but suspect one, contact your plumber for an expert inspection.
5. Sediment and Build Up
Residue in your tank and calcification, particularly around the element, can cause excess energy usage and prevent your water heater from heating effectively. Water heater tanks should be drained at least once a year to remove sediment. To do this, turn of the water, gas, and electric supply, drain the tank, rinse any sediment out, and then refill.
Insulation is vital to reduce standby heat loss, and conserve utility usage. Modern tank water heaters often have excellent insulation built in the tank, but older water heaters might need some extra help. Tank insulators are inexpensive and can be added to a tanks exterior to conserve heat over the cold winter months.
By checking these 6 things on your water heater before winter, you can ensure a reliable supply of hot water during the cold months. For an expert inspection or assistance correcting water heater issues, call your local plumber for rapid service.