Water Heater Maintenance Tips
September 12, 2017
Just as with any piece of important equipment, your water heater needs some TLC to keep it in top shape. Maintenance is needed to keep it operating safely, efficiently, and for many years. Follow these steps to conduct water heater maintenance every six months.
- A bucket
- A pipe wrench
- Garden hose
- Flathead screwdriver
- Socket wrench with 1-1/16″ head
- Check the pressure valve
A pressure relief valve is present on both gas and electric water heaters. This safety device releases pressure from the tank should it over pressurize. If your pressure valve isn’t working properly, the tank could explode from excess pressure. To test your pressure valve:
- Shut off the electricity running to the unit and turn off the gas valve, if applicable.
- Shut off the cold water inlet.
- Place a bucket below the pressure relief valve’s discharge pipe to collect any water.
- Pull the valve’s trip lever. If it is operating properly, there will be a minor rush of air and you may see some water and vapor come through the pressure relief valve. If not, the tank should be drained and valve replaced.
- Flush the tank
Over time, sediments can build up in your water heater tank, lowering efficiency and clogging your system. To flush the tank and remove sediment buildup:
- Shut off electricity and gas to the water heater.
- Shut off the cold water inlet.
- Connect a hose to the drain valve, and route it to a bathtub or other location where hot water can safely drain.
- Open the pressure relief valve.
- Open the drain valve and allow all hot water to drain out of the tank.
- Once all the water has drained, close the drain valve, remove the hose, and close the pressure valve.
- Open all fixtures connected to a hot water line throughout your home, including sinks and bath faucets.
- Turn on the cold water inlet.
- Once water starts flowing from the hot water fixtures you’ve opened, go ahead and close them.
- Reconnect electrical and gas power to the unit.
- While you’re in there.. lower the temperature to save money
Another step you can take to save energy while you perform water heater maintenance is to lower your water heater’s thermostat setting. Lowering the temperature reduces energy use regarding standby losses and consumption. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends setting your water heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit for safety as well as energy conservation. To do so:
- Locate your water heater’s thermostat; you may need to consult your owner’s manual for assistance.
- Mark the current setting with a market, and turn down the thermostat.
- In a few hours, check the temperature by turning on the hot water at the farthest tap from the water heater.
- If this setting is satisfactory, mark it on the thermostat for future reference.
- You may need to make a few adjustments to find a desirable setting for your household, so repeat the process as needed.
Let’s face it — water heaters certainly aren’t the most attractive appliances in your home. Lucky for some, this equipment is housed in utility closets or other areas where they are out of sight, out of mind. For the rest of us, water heaters are inconveniently installed right in our bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, and other areas that are exposed.
Tips For Hiding Your Ugly Water Heaters
Seeing that ugly metal tank can really detract from the look of your space, but there are many ways you can cover up the eyesore and beautiful the area. When disguising your water heater, it is important not to place materials too close to the water heater, which will restrict air flow and even create a fire hazard; leave a clearance of 8 inches or more between your water heater and your new enclosure. Below are some DIY ideas to help you hide that unsightly water heater, wherever it may be!
- Quick, Curtain Cover
Using a shower curtain or cloth curtains and shower curtain rods, you can easily hide your water heater behind a curtain of your choosing! You’ll need shower curtain rods that can be mounted from the ceiling, a shower curtain, a curved connecting pipe, and a shower curtain. Look for an extra-long curtain for floor-to-ceiling coverage, or install your shower curtain rod at a level which works best with what you’ve selected.
- Faux Cabinet Enclosure
- For Use With A Tanked Water Heater: If you have cabinetry installed around your water heater, you can create a faux cabinet to house your water heater that ties into the room brilliantly. Frame a closet around your water heater, allowing enough room for access when needed. Using cabinet doors and matching hardware, create a panel that will serve as the door to the closet you’ve created.
- For Use With A Tankless Water Heater: Tankless water heaters certainly don’t have as large of a footprint as a storage tank model, but they still aren’t the prettiest looking equipment in your house. Tankless water heaters are wall mounted, so to conceal one, simply create a cabinet around it! You may even be able to find a prefabricated cabinet that fits the dimensions you need. Otherwise, select the style of cabinet door and hardware you’d like and frame an enclosure around the unit. You can even paint the cabinet to match your décor!
- Room Divider
A decorative room divider or screen can quickly and easily conceal an ugly water heater. Before shopping, measure the height of your water heater, including the piping which extends from the top of the unit, so you can purchase a divider that is tall enough to completely conceal it.