M2=H2: W is for Water Heater

You very likely have a water heater. It quietly does its thing, and as long as you have toasty warm water, you really don’t even think about it. But did you know that you should perform regular maintenance on you water heater? If you do these steps, your water heater will last longer and save you money.

Water Heater
Gas-Powered Water Heater with Insulated Jacket

TEMPERATURE: Exactly how hot should the dial be set on your water heater? While it’s up to you to a degree, the maximum temperature should not exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Hotter than 120 degrees could cause scalding. Keep in mind that while a lower temperature will save fuel and electric costs, a higher temperature will kill pathogens which might be in the water.

If you are looking for cost saving without lowering the temperature, you might consider buying an insulated jacket to install on your heater. This will prevent heat loss and in turn save you money.

WATER: The water entering your home will naturally have minerals and sediments in it, to some degree. These minerals and sediments will eventually migrate to the bottom of your water heater. If you have hard water, the deposits will build up more quickly. If you do not remove the sediments, your water heater’s efficiency will decrease and some of the particles may contribute to your tank rusting through. It is much wiser to drain your tank once every year to remove these deposits.

CLEANING: First, be cautious. Your water heater will either run on gas or electricity and contains very hot water and steam. Before you do anything else, you must turn off the gas valve or the electricity at the circuit breaker. Next, look for the water shut-off valve, which is normally on the top of the heater. Close to that valve is also the pressure release valve. Both should be labeled. Finally, find the water drain, which is near the bottom of the tank. This drain should have threads to attach a hose.

Turn off the gas or electricity. The direction to shut off the gas valve should be clearly marked on your unit. Before you begin to drain the tank, you will need a hose, a bucket and gloves to protect your hands. First, turn off the water valve. In most cases, right is off and left is on. Next, attach the hose to the threads on the water drain. Place the other end of the hose in your bucket, or stretch it to the outdoors if it’s long enough.

To drain the tank, turn the valve on the water drain to open. At first, water will rush out, but in a few minutes, will slow. This is because a vacuum has been created by the water leaving the tank. Open the pressure release valve, and water will continue to drain. The initial water will be dirty – this is good! We want that sediment out!

After 20-30 minutes, the water should be completely drained. Before you close the water drain, turn on the water shut-off valve to flush any remaining sediment from the tank. When the water runs clear, turn off the water drain and close the pressure release valve. Allow the tank to refill, but do not turn on your gas or electric until it is full. An empty tank will damage the heating element.

Finally, turn on your gas or electric to begin heating the water once more. That’s it ’til next year!


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