Are you just itching to start tackling that Spring Cleaning list? Don’t forget to add water heater maintenance to your chore list!
Your water heater is one of your home’s most important appliances, yet it’s often the most neglected. When was the last time you cleaned yours? Your water often gets ignored because it quietly does its job tucked away in a basement or closet, and sadly only gets attention when there is no hot water. But proper maintenance can help keep your water heater working better and extend its lifespan.
While it’s one more item to check off on that to-do list, the good news is that it takes only a few minutes of easy and inexpensive maintenance once a year to keep your water heater running properly and efficiently.
Here are five things you can do in minutes to keep the hot showers flowing:
- Clean the space. If your water heater is in a utility closet, laundry room, or storage space, it’s most likely sharing space with other items. Make sure that whatever you are storing near your water heater isn’t a fire or safety risk. Keep several feet around your water heater clear of any clutter or debris. It’s also wise to avoid storing items that are prone to moisture damage, like books, papers, magazines, clothing, etc. near the water heater. You want to make sure you can visually see your whole water heater so that in the event of a leak, you can see it before it becomes an emergency.
- Clean the unit. Many water heaters have vents near the bottom of the heater. Like any vent, it can accumulate dust and other debris over the year. Make sure your water heater vents are clear, you can use a vacuum to make this chore a breeze.
- Test the TPR valve. A TPR valve is a temperature and pressure relief valve. It’s a safety device that senses if the pressure gets too high or if the water temperature inside the tank is too hot and it will open to relive pressure. Without it, water heaters can be at risk of exploding. Test the TPR valve annually by placing a bucket under the pipe connected to it and pulling the lever on the valve. You should hear a slight whooshing sound or even a little water or water vapor exiting the TPR. If you don’t, have your water heater serviced to make sure it’s operating safely.
- Flush the tank. Sediment is the #1 culprit that causes your water heater to go bad. Sediment builds up in the tank and not only reduces its efficiency but can clog your water lines. Follow the recommended steps by your water tank manufacturer to properly drain your tank.
- Adjust the temperature. The standard water heater temperature is 120 degrees. For every 10 degrees you lower your water temperature, you can save about 5% in energy costs. So if your dial is set above 120, you may want to lower it. If you plan to be away from home for several days, you can turn your thermostat down as well to save a few bucks while you are away.
With less than an hour a year spent on water heater maintenance, you can relax and know that your water heater is working efficiently and safely.