Water heaters are usually the most overlooked and under-maintained appliance in the home, with this being said, I have some cleaning and maintaining tips so you can try to get the most life out of one of the most expensive appliances in your home. Here are some low-cost ways to increase your water heater’s performance and durability.
Add Insulation to Pipes
Buy 3/8 inch-thick foam pipe and slide it over the hot and cold water pipes as far as you can reach. Wrapping the cold water pipe will hinder condensation in the warmer months. DO NOT cover the tops of oil or gas heaters while wrapping the sides of the tank ( I use R-4.5 foil covered bubble wrap) and sealing cuts with foil tape.
Drain The Water Heater Tank
Turn the power off to the tank or turn off gas switch to pilot then drain remaining water into a bucket. Slightly open the cold-water supply valve to stir up sediment that on the bottom of the tank, drain and repeat until the water coming out of the hose is clean and clear. Lastly close the drain cock, refill with water then maker sure to turn power back on or re-light the pilot.
Draining out a few gallons of water to able to fit a 1 1/16- inch socket onto the rod’s hex head on top of the tank ( it could be under the top plate) to unscrew the rod. If the rod is coated with calcium or less than 1/2 inch thick, then I would recommend buying a new one! Cleaning/changing your anode rod will slow the process down of the tank rusting out and WAY cheaper then having to buy a new heater.
Leaks and drips from the temperature and pressure (T&P) valve usually means a thermal expansion tank is needed. Although most leaks are from faulty water supply connections, using proper materials and techniques to check your work carefully! FYI, compression fittings are easier to use than mending copper pipes!
Lower Water Temperature
Tank are usually pre-set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit but the U.S Department of Energy recommends a setting of 120 degrees F for most units. They estimated that doing this can reduce cost for energy by over $400 per year!!
The benefits of cleaning and caring for you water heater are drastic and obvious, adding insulation can reduce heat loss up to 40% and can cut as much as 8% off water- heating costs. Flushing the tank improves your water quality and improves longevity, a viable anode rod will help from rusting out! Water heaters are SO expensive, using these tips will let you get the most out of your tank and save you money in the long run!