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It's Time to Get Your Water Heater Ready For Winter

There are some telltale signs of the upcoming change of seasons: the evening air is a bit chillier, days are getting shorter, and there are some added items on your to-do list. You shouldn't overlook your water heater on that list.

By following a few simple steps, you can prepare it for the winter months and help save on your monthly energy costs.

Adjust the Temperature Setting On Your Thermostat

To avoid scalding, the suggested setting on your water heater’s thermostat is 120°F. Lowering the temperature setting not only makes your home safer, but it can also provide significant savings. You could experience as much as 5% reduction in your energy costs for every 10° lower on your heater’s thermostat.


Test the Pressure Relief Valve

The pressure relief valve, located near the top of your tank, is designed to open when the temperature or pressure inside gets too high to avoid damage or injury. You can check the valve by shutting off the power and water supply and placing a bucket under the drainpipe connected to the valve. Open the valve by lifting its tab to let some water run out.

If little or no water comes out, or if the water continues to run after you've closed the valve, you'll have to replace it. You can replace the defective valve by partially draining the tank and removing it with a plumbing wrench. The new valve can then be installed in its place.

Check the Anode Rod

Inside your hot water tank, magnesium or aluminum rod is inserted to slow the corrosion of its metal lining. By allowing the corrosive elements of water to consume it first, the anode rod provides lasting protection against rust.

Make sure the water supply valve is shut off, and the power to the water heater is also off the circuit breaker, or, in the case of a gas heater, the thermostat is on the pilot setting. Drain several gallons from the tank and loosen the hexagonal head of the rod found on the top of the tank. Retrieve the rod and replace it if it has a diameter of less than ½ inch.

Flush Out Sediment Inside the Tank

During years of use, sand and sediment can accumulate on the bottom of your water heater making it less energy efficient. To remove the residue, attach a garden hose to the drain valve located near the bottom of the tank. Place the other end of the hose in a floor drain or outside.

Turn on a nearby hot water tap to assist in the draining process and open the drain valve. Once the tank is empty, turn on the cold water intake valve to stir up remaining sediment and repeat this step until the water flows out clear. You can then shut off the drain valve, open the cold water intake, and, once the tank is partially filled, turn the power back on.

With these simple tasks done, your water heater will work more efficiently and be ready to take on the cooler weather of fall and winter.

If you'd like some assistance in maintaining your water heating system, your friends at Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing in Reno, NV will be pleased to provide the help you need. You can call us at 775-624-8378 to speak with one of our experts.