By Anita Ginsburg
After a sizzling summer, fall has finally arrived. In many parts of the country, that means getting out the blankets and turning on the heat. However, to keep you and your family warm, there may need to be some home maintenance to take care of first. In particular, you should prepare your water heater for the impending cold water to keep it running all season long. Here are some water heater maintenance steps you should take:
Check the Temperature and Pressure
Water temperature plays a huge role in the lifespan of your water heater. When the temperature and water pressure are too high, it can cause a slew of mechanical problems. Leaks may become more frequent, your water bills may be higher and the water heater may not last as long.
It's recommended that you set your water heater's temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The pressure should be between 40 and 80 psi.
Wash Out the Water Tank
It's surprising how quickly a water heater can accumulate sediment. While having some sediment is expected, having it coat the sides of the water heater's interior is a problem. Not only does this make the water hard and unhealthy, it also reduces the efficiency of the water heater, which can make winter unbearable. You can usually do this task yourself.
All you'll need to do is turn off your power or gas, connect a hose to the drain valve and simply wait for it to drain. After the tank has been completely emptied, use cool water to clean it out. If you're not DIY-savvy around the house, hiring a plumber is the best course of action. They have both the skills and tools to properly diagnose any issues that might already be there and clean out your water heater.
Check on the Anode Rod
The anode rod is one of the most important parts of any water heater. It's a rod made up of either magnesium or aluminum and is found at the top of the water heater. The anode rod is what prevents rust and corrosion in your water heater. While these rods typically last up to five years, they should be checked at least once a year.
Keep the Tank Insulated
You should also consider insulating your water heater. Insulation makes it easier for your water heater to heat up and use less energy. You can insulate yours by wrapping foil blankets around it. These are commonly found in most hardware stores and, while this is a simple job, it can save you a lot of money on your heating bills.
Get It Inspected
It's a good idea to get your water heater inspected by a plumber on a yearly basis. They'll be able to check your water heater over and catch any issues that you haven't noticed yet. Finding and fixing these problems early will save you a lot of money in the long run.
You never know how much you rely on your water heater until it stops functioning. If you aren't sure how to prep your water heater for winter, contact an experienced plumber for assistance.
Anita Ginsburg is a freelance writer from Denver, Colo. She studied at Colorado State University and now enjoys writing about health, business, and family. A mother of two wonderful children, she loves traveling with her family whenever she isn't writing. For more information on preparing your water heater, talk to a plumber in your area. You can find her on Twitter @anitaginsburg.