Water Heater 101: Water Heater Maintenance Tips

Water Heater TipsWater heaters are wonderful. They provide hot water right to our faucets whenever we need it. But there are a few things you can do to make sure your water heater is safe, energy efficient, and lasts for years. The team at Herrmann Services has put together this list of helpful water heater tips and tricks to help you and your family live better, safer, and more affordably.   

Insulate Your Water Heater

Because your water heater stores hot water 24/7, much of the heat can escape through the walls or the tank unless they are insulated. This loss is called standby loss since it is heat lost while the heater is standing by for use. Insulating your water heater can reduce standby heat loss by 25% to 50% which translates to savings of 4% to 9% on your water heating bill. These blankets, made of special insulation, are also sometimes called water heater jackets or sweaters and can be found at home improvement stores. To see if your tank is a good candidate for a jacket, just touch it. It should not feel warm. If it does then the tank is not well insulated and a good candidate for this easy project. Check its label to see if it has an R-value of at least 24. If not, you should insulate your tank.

Look for a blanket with an R-5 to R-10 rating. Insulating blankets are easy to install and inexpensive – roughly $20. When dressing your tank for saving energy, be careful not to block the thermostat on an electric water heater or the air inlet and exhaust on a gas unit.

Insulate the Pipes

Insulated hot water pipes can raise the effective hot water temperature at your shower head or faucet by 2°F to 4°F over the same water heater setting if the pipes were not insulated. You don’t need to insulate all the hot water piping, only the first 5 to 10 feet from the water heater. Insulating the hot water pipe means you won’t have to wait as long for it to heat up, which will save energy, water, and money.

Set It for a Safe Temperature

If the temperature on your water heater is set too high, the water can scald someone. This is especially important if you have small children in your home who may accidentally turn on just the hot water tap. On residential tanks, the settings are normally warm, hot, very hot or something similar to that. There is much variation on what these settings mean, but the safe temperature is 120 degrees at the tap. If your water heater doesn’t have exact settings, you can test the temperature with a meat or candy thermometer to see what it is when it comes out of the faucet.

Water Heater Maintenance

Your water heater requires very little maintenance. However, silt or sediment will build up a the bottom of the tank over time. This sediment makes your water heater less efficient because it settles on the bottom where the heating element is and insulates the water from the heat. Your water heater should be drained once a year to keep sediment from accumulating. If you have an annual tune-up, your plumber should drain it then as well as check for proper wiring and venting, and check the anode rod which prevents corrosion inside the tank. It may need to be replaced if it has dwindled to less than a half inch thick or is covered with calcium deposits.

Safety Tips You Should Follow

Know how to turn off the water and gas or power supply. This is important in the event of an emergency, if your water heater is leaking, or you smell gas. There should be a gas valve or a disconnect switch within a few feet of the water heater. It’s also a good idea to know where your main gas shut-off valve is if your water heater is gas or which breaker controls the water heater if it is electric.

Clear the area around your water heater. There are several reasons why it’s a good idea to give your water heater some space.

  • A gas water heater needs a good supply of oxygen to burn the gas. If a water heater can’t get enough oxygen, it can affect the efficiency of the unit as well as cause damage to the burner chamber and other water heater parts. It can even cause carbon monoxide leaks.
  • If the unit starts to leak, everything around it will get wet. You may not even notice if the area around it is hidden from view.
  • Storing items too close to the water heater can be a fire hazard.

Signs of Trouble to Look For

  • If you noticed any black residue, soot or charred metal, this is a sign you may be having combustion issues and you should have the unit serviced by a professional.
  • If you ever smell gas, turn off the gas supply and contact a professional.
  • For electric water heaters, look for any signs of leaking such as rust streaks or residue around the upper and lower panels covering the electrical components on the tank.

If you need help with your water heater, or need a new water heater installed, call the team at Herrmann Services at (513) 737-8423 or contact us online.

The One Lesson Holiday Guests Will Teach You about Your Water Heater

Your home runs pretty much seamlessly every day. The furnace keeps you warm. Your washer and dryer keep producing clean clothes. Your toilets flush properly and your TV transmits the shows you love to watch. That’s how it should be! But what happens when you overload the system? This is the time of year when many families discover that having too many people in their home causes some not-so-ordinary problems.

The Water Heater SurprisePlumber Cincinnati

Traditional water heaters have a set capacity. They can hold and heat 30, 40, or even 50 gallons of water depending on which size you own. They do a great job servicing the occupants of your home. However, they can only provide a limited amount of water in a set amount of time. Then, they must refill and reheat the water which can take an hour or more. When there are additional people showering and bathing consecutively, the hot water runs out! Now, you’ve got guests who either can’t take a shower or worse, are caught in the shower when the hot water runs out. Yikes! Not good.

Related Read: Tankless vs Traditional Water Heaters

The Tankless Solution

The above scenario is exactly why we get lots of requests for tankless water heaters after the holidays. The beauty of a tankless water heater is that you get endless hot water. Because the water is superheated on demand, instead of pulled from a tank of preheated water, you can use as much as you want with no restrictions. As long as you have cold water…you have hot water.

Never Run Out of Hot Water

If you’ve ever waited to do a load of laundry in hot water because you were planning to fill a whirlpool tub for a nice long bath, you could use a tankless water heater. With a tankless water heater, you’ll never worry about having enough hot water again. The tankless water heater costs more upfront, but it also saves you money on energy bills because unlike a traditional water heater, which has to keep gallons of water hot 24/7, it only uses energy when hot water is in demand (when the faucet is on).

If you’d like to find out more about tankless water heaters, give us a call at (513) 737-8423 or contact us online. The Herrmann plumbing pros will be happy to answer all of your questions.