It’s clear why you should take care of your gas hot water heater. Insulation can cut heat loss by up to 45 percent and water heating costs by up to 9 percent. Cleaning the tank of sediment makes it work better and last longer. And making sure that the tank has a working anode rod will help keep the inside from rusting. A new heater is much more expensive to buy than a used rod.
Just follow these maintenance tips for your hot water heater to save money on your hot water.
Check the TPR Valve
- Turn off the power and close the valve that brings in cold water.
- Put a bucket under the pipe connected to the temperature-pressure-release (TPR) valve on the top or side of the tank. (If the pressure in the tank gets too high, this valve will open.)
- Lift the tab on the valve to let some water out, then put it back down. If the water keeps coming out, drain the tank halfway, unscrew the old valve with a pipe wrench, and put in a new one.
Look at the Anode Rod
- Connect a hose to the drain cock and let a few gallons of water out of the tank.
- Now, put a 1 1/16-inch socket on the rod’s hex head on top of the heater (or under the top plate) and unscrew the rod. If it’s less than half an inch thick or covered with calcium, buy a new one, wrap its threads with Teflon tape, put it back in the tank, and tighten it securely. Use this segmented rod if you don’t have much room above the tank.
Empty The Tank And Wash Out The Sludge
- Pour the rest of the water in the tank into the bucket, and then stir up the sediment on the bottom of the tank by briefly opening the cold water supply valve. Drain the water and do it again until the hose comes clean.
- Close the drain valve, put water back in the tank, and turn the power back on.
Change How Hot Or Cold It Is
Find the dial that shows the temperature on the side of the tank and unscrew the cover. Use a flathead screwdriver to set the dial to 120 degrees. You can save up to 5 percent on energy costs for every 10 degrees you lower the temperature.
If you will be gone for more than three days, turn off the water heater or set the thermostat to its lowest setting.
Keep The Pipes Warm
- Buy self-sticking foam pipe insulation that is 3/8 inch thick and the same diameter as the pipes.
- Slide the foam as far as you can over the hot and cold water pipes. When the cold-water pipe is insulated, condensation doesn’t form in the summer.
- Remove the tape and close the insulation by squeezing it. If the pipe is less than 6 inches from the flue, cover it with unfaced fiberglass pipe wrap that is 1 inch thick.
Wrap The Heater In Foam
- Cut the insulating blanket to fit around the pipes, the TPR valve, and the temperature control that sticks out of the tank.
- Wrap the tank’s side and seal any holes with foil tape. Don’t put anything on top of an oil or gas heater.
- Wrap a circle of insulation that is too big around the top of an electric heater and tape its edge to the side of the tank.
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