Annual preventive maintenance on your hot water heater will extend its life, increase its efficiency and help keep your energy costs down. While here are some water heater maintenance steps that you can do yourself, such as ensuring that the temperature is set to an efficient level, and insulating the pipes, you also should consider having an HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) professional service your water heater annually.
A professional HVAC contractor will conduct a thorough, multiple-point inspection during your water heater maintenance visit:
- Checking the temperature pressure relief valve, which releases pressure in your hot water heater. Your HVAC professional will shut off the power, and the cold water supply and lift up the valve to release some water. If water continues to flow once the technician releases the valve, your contractor should replace it.
- Inspecting the anode rod, which keeps your hot-water heater tank from rusting. Your contractor will drain a few gallons of water from the tank to access the rod. If it’s coated with minerals or if the rod’s diameter is less than a half-inch thick, your contractor should install a new one.
- Draining sediment from your tank. Sediment can reduce your system’s efficiency and shorten its life. Your HVAC professional will drain and rinse the tank to remove the sediment.
- Setting the temperature, which ideally should be 120 degrees. Higher settings increase the risk for scalding, and promote corrosion and mineral buildup. You can change the temperature setting yourself, as most hot-water heaters have a dial on the front, but some systems may require the use of a flathead screwdriver to change the setting.
- Insulating the pipes. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, insulating your hot water heater’s pipes can save you up to 9 percent in water heating costs. You can do this yourself by covering the hot and cold water pipes with self-sticking foam pipe insulation as far down the pipe as you can reach. To save even more money, insulate the heater itself with an insulating blanket, which you can find at most home-improvement stores. Cut the blanket to fit around the pipes and controls, and seal it with foil tape.
For more expert advice on water heater maintenance, please contact the experts at Rinaldi’s Air Conditioning. We’ve proudly served customers in the central Florida area for 42 years, and can help you with all of your home-comfort needs.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Orlando, Florida and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about water heater maintenance and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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