With frigid temperatures on our doorstep today, you might be one of many Connecticutians hoping that your hot water heater won’t leave you out in the cold.
The average lifecycle of a water heater is about eight to twelve years and they can cost anywhere from $300 for an electric tank system to well over $1,000 for a tankless energy efficient natural gas machine. Whichever way you go, when you’ve invested in a hot water heater, you want to make sure that your model is able to go the distance.
If you have a water heater that’s climbing up in its years, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure you’ll get a good run for your money. Here are a few ideas:
As a water heater operates, it collects sediment that can cause decay if left in the tank over time. Don’t let this happen to yours. Drain your water heater at least twice a year to get rid of any buildup, which will prevent corrosion and increase the machine’s energy efficiency. To do this, first turn off the unit and give it plenty of time to cool down. Then, using a garden hose and pump, drain the water into a bucket. If the bucket becomes filled with brown, sediment-tainted water, continue to refill and drain your heater until the water looks normal again. When you’re in the clear, you can disconnect your hose and turn the unit back on.
Keep your water heater at a steady 120 degrees and lower it down if you’re planning on leaving the house for three days or more. For every 10 degrees you decrease the temperature, you’ll save five per cent in energy costs.
Insulate the tank and pipes with fiberglass. For the tank, fit a fiberglass blanket using foil tape, but be sure not to cover any valve or pipe openings. For the pipes, you can use fiberglass wrap or foam insulation. By adding a layer of insulation to your water heater, you’ll keep the warmth from escaping into the air and you’ll protect the machine from condensation in the warmer months.
If you have a valve that’s leaking, make sure that the fittings are nice and tight. If that doesn’t work, you might have to replace the valves or fittings. You can find the parts you’ll need at a local hardware store – just don’t forget to shut off the water first!
Remember, working with electric or gas appliances can be dangerous. If you’re not familiar with how your unit operates or if you’re not comfortable with this kind of work, contact a plumber for a routine maintenance check.