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5 Maintenance Tips To Avoid Water Heater Trouble This Fall & Winter


Summer is now a little more than a distant memory. It's time to prep the house to get it ready for the Wisconsin winter. On top of the yard work and other outdoor chores, you shouldn't neglect your water heater. By completing these easy tasks, can help to ensure it runs smoothly through the winter and cost less on your energy bills.

To complete these jobs, shut off the power supply to your water heater at the electrical panel, or, if you have a gas heater, set the thermostat to pilot, and close the cold water supply valve.

1 - Check Your Pressure Release Valve

If the temperature and pressure get too high inside the hot water tank, the pressure release valve opens to prevent injury or damage. Put a bucket under the valve and lift the tab to release some water.

If there’s no water coming out, or if it’s just a few drops, you’ll need a new one. Drain a few gallons from the tank before removing the old valve with a wrench. Wrap some Teflon tape around the new valve and tighten it securely to the tank.

2 - Check Your Anode Rod

An excellent rust-fighting feature in your water heater, the anode rod attracts the corrosion-causing elements in water so that it rusts before the tank does. With a few gallons drained from the tank, loosen the rod head on top of the tank with a 1 1/16” socket. Remove the rod to inspect it. If it looks rusted or is smaller than ½” in diameter, buy a new one at your local plumbing supply or home improvement store. Wrap some Teflon tape around the threads before installing it.

3 - Clean Out the Tank

At the bottom of your tank, there’s an accumulation of sediment from months of use. This can cause your water heater to work harder to achieve the desired temperature and cost you more in energy consumption. To clear it out, connect a hose to the drain valve locate near the bottom of the heater and place the other end in a floor drain or outside.

Turn a hot water tap on somewhere in the house and open the valve. When the tank is empty, turn the cold water supply valve on for a few minutes to stir up any remaining sediment. You can then close the drain valve, refill the tank and turn the heater back on.

4 - Check the Temperature Setting

We suggest setting the thermostat on your water heater to 120°F for improved energy savings while still protecting against waterborne bacteria. For every 10° you lower the thermostat, you could achieve a 5% savings on your energy bills.

Insulate the Tank and Pipes

For more energy savings and to prevent heat loss, wrap a foil insulation blanket around the tank, taking care to cut around the thermostat and pipes. Seal the blanket with foil tape. Slip some 3/8” self-adhesive foam insulation onto all the pipes you can access and remove the tape to close it around the pipe.

With these tasks done, your water heater will be in better shape to tackle the cold winter weather. If you’d like some help with you water heater maintenance, contact the professionals at Knight Plumbing, in Franklin, WI at (414) 420-0625.