As with all of your plumbing, your water heater is at a higher risk of damage in the winter months. Not only will your system have to work harder to keep warm water flowing when it’s cold out, but the metal of your tank could also contract in the low temperatures and lead to leaking or bursting. Thankfully, you can avoid major breakdowns and costly malfunctions with a little bit of preparation. Knowing how to protect your water heater this winter will keep your system running smoothly all season long. Just follow these steps to prepare your system for the cold weather:
INSPECT FOR PROBLEMS
A quick visual inspection can go a long way. Take a few minutes to look at your water heater for signs of corrosion, leaking, or damage. Be sure to check along the tank in addition to connecting pipes or valves for potential problems. Two of the most important parts to examine include the:
Almost all conventional water heaters use an aluminum or magnesium rod to prevent corrosion from building up inside of the tank. If this rod becomes too rusted, you will want to replace it quickly.
If you need to check the anode rod, begin by shutting off the water and power supply to your system. Then unscrew the rod’s head, which is located at the top of the tank. If yours is severely rusted, then you will want to purchase a new one. Most hardware and home improvement stores sell replacements that you can easily screw into place.
TEMPERATURE AND PRESSURE RELIEF VALVE
As the name suggests, the temperature and pressure relief (TPR) valve is designed to automatically release excess pressure to prevent bursting. Malfunctions with this part can be dangerous, both to your system and to your safety.
To ensure your TPR valve is working properly, shut off the water and power supply. Place a bucket under the drainpipe that the valve is connected to, and open the valve for just a moment to allow some water to escape. If water continues to leak once the valve is closed, or if no water comes out at all when the valve is open, then you will want to contact a professional plumber to troubleshoot the problem.
FLUSH THE TANK
Over time, sediment will build up in the bottom of your tank. Flushing your water heater at least once per year is a great way to remove this mineral buildup and prevent clogs, backups, or breakdowns. The process can be quick and easy – just follow these steps to flush your tank:
Shut off the water supply and power
Attach a hose to the drain valve
Completely empty the tank
Close the drain valve and refill the tank
Turn the water and power back on
If you don’t feel comfortable flushing the tank yourself, don’t worry! The professionals at Pacific Plumbing & Drain are happy to handle the job for you. Our technicians are highly trained and well-versed in a variety of water heater types and models, so we can flush your system in no time. Just give us a call to get started!
Adding external insulation to your water heater will prevent your system from overworking itself to stay warm. Additionally, a little layer of protection can keep thermal energy from escaping the tank, resulting in significantly lower utility bills. Most home improvement stores provide foil insulating blankets that you can cut to fit around the pipes and valves of your water heater.
LOWER THE TEMPERATURE
Most people are tempted to turn up the temperature when it’s cold outside. However, doing so will force your water heater to work harder, which will place strain on your system and cost a lot of money in utility bills. We recommend setting your thermostat to roughly 120°F to save money and preserve your system while maintaining comfortably warm temperatures.
CONVERT TO A TANKLESS WATER HEATER
In recent years, tankless water heaters have become a popular choice for homeowners who want to simplify their maintenance tasks and reduce their risks of breakdowns. Because these systems create hot water on demand, they run a lower risk of common problems such as pressure or sediment buildup, leaking, or thermal energy loss. Tankless water heaters offer numerous advantages that will keep your system in great shape for years to come.
SCHEDULE PROFESSIONAL MAINTENANCE
At the end of the day, the best way to ensure your water heater is in great condition is to schedule a professional maintenance service. Trained technicians have the tools and expertise needed to identify potential problems before they have a chance to develop into bigger issues. To keep your system working wonderfully all winter long, call Pacific Plumbing & Drain! Our team has proudly served the Vancouver WA and Portland OR areas for years, including 24/7 emergency support in case you are experiencing a problem that can’t wait. Ready to get started? Contact us today to get your personalized quote!