Are you tired of your hot water heater breaking down every few years? Are you looking for ways to extend the life of this essential appliance in your home? Look no further! In this article, we will provide you with some valuable tips and tricks to help prolong the lifespan of your hot water heater. By following these simple yet effective strategies, you can save both time and money by avoiding frequent repairs or early replacements. So, let's dive in and discover how to keep your hot water heater running smoothly for many years to come!
How to Extend the Life of Your Hot Water Heater
Your hot water heater is one of the most expensive appliances in your home. It’s important to do everything you can to extend its lifespan.
Fortunately, there are several easy and inexpensive ways to do just that! Some are even one-time tasks. They include: insulating pipes, installing an expansion tank, examining the anode rod and getting annual maintenance.
Insulate Your Pipes
A water heater plays a vital role in your household, so it’s important to do what you can to extend its lifespan. By using the tips outlined here, including installing an expansion tank, doing regular maintenance, examining gas lines and pressure relief valves, installing a water softener, checking the anode rod, insulating pipes, and turning down the temperature, you can greatly increase your heater’s lifespan and reduce energy waste.
Pipe insulation is an easy, inexpensive way to save energy and prevent water damage. For the best results, choose pre-slit polyethylene foam pipe insulation, which can be found at most home improvement warehouses or hardware stores. Ensure that the sleeve matches your water pipes’ diameters, and then wrap it around each section of pipe. Ensure that the seam faces down, and use an acrylic black tape or tie wire to secure the insulation about every foot.
When cold water pipes are insulated, the temperature of your house stays warmer and your energy bills stay lower. This also helps prevent frozen pipes and condensation, which can lead to expensive repairs and property damage. Typically, you can insulate the first 3 feet of both hot and cold water pipe from the water heater, and the cost is relatively inexpensive.
If you have a gas water heater, remember to keep the insulation at least 6 inches from the flue. If your water heater is closer than this, consider using fiberglass pipe wrap without a facing instead. Always wear gloves when handling insulation, and use a headlamp or flashlight if working in a crawl space or dark area.
Install an Expansion Tank
An expansion tank can help protect your home from burst pipes by taking the pressure off other parts of your hot water system. This helps prevent other areas from getting overworked and corroded, extending your heater’s lifespan.
A water expansion tank is a small, cylindrical tank that’s divided into 2 sides by a rubber diaphragm. One side is connected to the hot water piping and contains water (h2O), while the other side has air under pressure and usually has a Schrader valve used for adding and checking the pressure. When the hot water expands, it pushes the pressurized air out through the valve at the top.
Water expansion tanks are especially important for water heaters with closed systems that don’t allow for backflow into the water main. Because the system has nowhere to go when it expands, frequent changes in water pressure can put a lot of stress on your water heater, leading to wear and tear that can shorten its lifespan.
To install a tank, start by finding an appropriate spot to place it. It’s important that it is located within a few feet of your water heater, and that you have an open path for the cold-water supply pipe. Next, attach a tee-fitting to the dielectric union on your water heater and then link it to the tank with copper piping. To ensure the tank gets enough pressure, use a pressure gauge to match the air pressure in the tank with the water pressure in your home. Lastly, connect the top of the tank to the tee-fitting using sweat-soldering or push-fit links. Check the connections regularly for corrosion or leaks. Ideally, you’ll also want to add a pressure relief valve to the tank so it can protect against dangerous backpressures.
Install a Water Softener
Adding a water softener to your home is a great way to extend the life of your hot water heater. Hard water creates scale build-up that clogs pipes and shortens the lifespan of appliances like coffee makers, dishwashers, and your hot water heater. A water softener filters out hard minerals and keeps your entire plumbing system clean, including the water heater itself. The best place to install a water softener is upstream of your water heater, so the water softened isn’t hitting your hot water tank.
A professional will need to install the water softener for you, but the job shouldn’t be too complicated. First, you’ll need to install a bypass valve on the water line running into your home from the outside. You’ll also need to attach a hose that carries the discharge water from your softener to a drain, tub, standpipe or sump about an inch and a half above the surface of the ground. Hose clamps will be included in the installation kit to help you secure the hose connections.
You should only soften the water you need to, so don’t connect your water softener to showers, sinks or laundry hookups. Toilets, hose bibs, basement sinks and other cold water taps don’t need to be softened.
Taking steps to improve the condition of your hot water heater will help you get more use out of it, while saving you money on energy costs and cutting down on unnecessary repairs. If you’re looking for a new water heater, make sure to choose a model that has a longer warranty and a higher construction quality to reduce the risk of costly breakdowns that could disrupt your business or household routine.
Turn Down the Temperature
The average water heater is set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which can be dangerous for infants, children and older adults. Not only is it a fire hazard but it also wastes energy and can cost you a lot of money. The Department of Energy recommends a temperature setting of 120 degrees. Turning your water heater down will save you money and improve your family’s safety.
Most newer electric water heaters offer a dial on the bottom that you can adjust to find the happy medium for your family. Older gas units require a few extra steps to make the adjustment. You will need to shut off power to the unit at the circuit breaker and remove the thermostat access panel. This will expose the thermostat and allow you to use a screwdriver to adjust the temperature. Once you have found the ideal temperature, turn the water, power and gas back on.
If you have a family with sensitive skin or hair, you may want to consider turning your water down even further. Hot water that is too hot evaporates, which can leave behind dry, flaky skin and brittle hair. By turning down the temperature just a few degrees, you can make your skin and hair healthier.
Lowering your water temperature takes a few minutes and will save you money for years to come. It can also extend the life of your water heater by reducing energy costs and by decreasing the amount of mineral buildup that occurs over time. If you have any questions, contact a professional plumbing service for more information and help with your home’s heating and cooling needs. They can also provide a water heater inspection to identify any issues that need to be addressed immediately.
Get an Annual Maintenance
While the average life of a water heater is eight to twelve years, neglecting maintenance can make it wear out sooner than expected. In some cases, you may even find yourself having to pay for an early replacement. Taking the proper steps to extend the lifespan of your water heater will not only save you money but also time and hassle.
Another great thing that you can do to prolong the life of your water heater is to add a water softener and filtration system to your home. This will help to remove the calcium, minerals, and sediment build-up that can cause your water heater to corrode more quickly.
Your water heater will also work more efficiently if you flush it on a regular basis. The anode rod is a metal rod inside of your water heater tank that attracts corrosion and prevents it from destroying your unit. This rod will eventually corrode itself, but if you replace it every year, you can increase the life of your water heater by up to six times.
In addition to flushing, annual maintenance also includes testing your gas safety valve and checking the exhaust stack on a fuel-fired water heater to ensure that it is free of rust, corrosion, or obstructions. This is important because if your water heater fails to vent properly, it could release toxic gases into your home and create a fire hazard. Having an annual tune-up done by a qualified technician can help you avoid these issues.
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