When is the last time you checked — or thought about — your water heater? Chances are, unless you’ve had a problem, the answer may very well be “Never.” The reality is, your water heater performs a major function in your home that you depend on every day. With a little preventative maintenance you can keep it in good shape, prolong its life, save money and avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Here are six things you can do to take care of your water heater.
1. Check the TPR Valve
The temperature pressure release (TPR) valve is a safety feature that allows water to drain if the pressure gets too high. It’s an important feature of your water heater that should be checked regularly to make sure it is functioning properly. To do so, simply lift the tab on the TPR valve to allow some water to flow out and then let go. If the water stops, the valve is still good. If not, it’s time to have it replaced.
2. Check for and Drain Sediment
Minerals, particularly calcium, and rust, which is a by-product of water reacting with the metal tank, build up over time in your water heater and eventually cause it to wear out. Once a year, carefully drain one gallon of water at a time from the tank into a bucket. (The water is extremely hot, so use caution.)You’ll know you’ve cleared the sediment when it is no longer visible in the water.
3. Check for Corrosion
Examine the outside of the tank as well as any components for signs of corrosion. Replace any worn or damaged parts.
4. Check the Temperature Gauge
Most water heaters come factory set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which meets OSHA regulations. However, lowering the temperature to 120 degrees has several benefits. While still providing sufficiently hot water, lowering the temperature is safer because it lessens the risk of scalding accidents, particularly for small children and elderly. The lower temperature also saves money — about 5% in energy costs for every 10-degree drop. And, it extends the life of your water heater by reducing the amount of sediment that builds up in the tank.
5. Check Incoming Water Pressure
Typically, municipal water systems deliver water to your home at high pressure. The water pressure reducing valve lowers the water pressure before it enters your water heater. Like any mechanical equipment, it has the potential to fail and should be checked periodically by an HVAC professional.
6. Add Insulation
An economical way to improve the performance of any water heater (particularly in a cold climate) is to insulate the heater and the pipes. Insulation jackets or blankets are inexpensive and easy to install. They can reduce standby heat loss by 25-45% and save up to 16% in water heating costs.
Contact Indoor Air Quality today with your water heater questions and for all your HVAC needs. IAQ proudly serves Highlands Ranch and the Denver Metro Area.