Tips and Tricks to Maintaining Your Water Heater

Winters in Massachusetts are notoriously brutal. The last thing you want to deal with during these cold months is waking up to a frigid shower in the morning. Follow these tips to keep to keep your water heater running at its best for years to come.

Insulate the Pipes and Heater

This may not be necessary on newer units, as many come insulted (check that user manual), but this can really help on an older unit. A fiberglass jacket wrapped around the heater itself and additional insulation around the pipes can be a nice boost to heating efficiency. A big upside, is that this task only needs to be done once

Set the Temperature

Adjust that thermostat to 120 degrees. Every 10 degrees the temp gets lowered saves about 5% in energy costs and helps reduce chances of getting scalded. Bonus, this adjustment is another one and done maintenance tip.

Examine the Sacrificial Anode Rod

This is one of the more involved tips, but only needs to be done about every three years. Loosen and remove the hex head screw and give the rod a good once over. It needs replacing if you can see more than 6” of the core wire, There is visible calcium on the rod, or the rod itself is less than ½” thick.

Test the Temperature Release Valve

This can be done on an annual basis. Simply discharge the valve two or three times to be sure it’s working, and be sure to check for any small leaks.

Drain the Tank to Remove Sediment

At least once a year, drain a quarter of the tank to remove sediment and keep things flowing. Be sure to shut off the power and close the cold water supply valve. Attach a garden hose to the drain valve and drain water out of the tank until it’s visibly clear. Remember the water will be hot, so avoid immediately dumping it into the yard to avoid killing your grass.

Water not clearing? You may need to flush the tank. To do this, turn down the temp and totally drain the water. After it’s empty, turn the water back on and continue to drain for a bit, flushing out any remaining debris.

Following these tips will go a long ways in keeping your water heater operating at its best and keep you in warm water through the frigid Massachusetts winters.