While a leak from your hot water heater can turn your basement into an ocean, dealing with the damage is no day at the beach. Some simple maintenance can help prevent disasters like this – and improve the longevity of your water heater. Follow these tips to keep your water heater is in tip-top shape.
It’s important to check the pressure relief valve on a regular basis. To do this, turn off the electricity or gas to the water heater and shut off the appliance’s cold-water inlet. Set a bucket below the valve to catch water. Next, pull the trip lever on the valve. Listen for a slight rush of air and look for water vapor coming out of the pressure valve. If neither of these happen, it’s time to drain the tank and replace the valve.
Out with the old in with the new
As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to flush the water tank every time you check the pressure relief valve. After you’ve checked the valve, connect a garden house to the tank’s drain valve and set up the other end of the hose to drain somewhere that can handle scalding hot water. With the pressure relief valve still open, open the drain valve and let the tank drain all the way- this lets out all the grimy sediment that can clog your water lines and decrease your appliance’s efficiency! Once the tank is drained, you can close the tank drain valve and disconnect the hose. Next, open all the hot water spigots in the house and turn the cold water supply to the tank back on. Close each hot water spigot as water beings to flow from it. Once they’re all closed, you can switch back on the electricity or gas to the water heater.
It’s helpful to insulate your cold water pipe, especially in the summer months! This helps prevent condensation around the pipes as the temperature outside rises. Buy some 3/8 inch thick, self-sticking, foam pipe insulation from your favorite hardware store, ensuring the diameter matches the diameter of your pipe. Slide the foam over the pipe and squeeze to close the insulation. Measure to see if the pipe is 6 inches or less from the flue. If so, cover it with 1-inch-thick unfaced fiberglass pipe wrap.