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Stay Green with Regular Water Heater Maintenance

by VitalStorm Content on November 10, 2017

If you own a tank-style hot water heater and it’s overdue for maintenance, it is probably costing you money. Since the hot water heater works around the clock to heat or maintain the temperature of water, relatively small inefficiencies start to add up fast. Not to worry, the experts at Blue Fame Heating & Air Conditioning are here to help! Performing regular maintenance on your water heater is not only simple, but can also help you avoid future repairs, extend the life of your unit, and increase energy efficiency.

Whether you’re performing this maintenance for the first time, or just need a refresher, follow the steps below to keep the water hot (and the energy bill low) this winter.

Be Prepared

Before you get started, it’s a good idea to consider wearing safety gear such as goggles or protective clothing when performing water heater maintenance. Read through each step carefully before starting, and if the procedures are outside your comfort-zone, call a professional technician.

If you’re ready to start, gather supplies and shut down the water heater. Supplies you’ll need include a length of garden hose long enough to a reach a safe draining location and a bucket.

First, shut down the water heater, either using a switch on the unit, or by flipping the breaker off. If your unit is gas or propane powered, shut off the gas to power down the heater. Next, locate and close the water heater’s cold water inlet valve to stop the tank from filling.

Maintenance and Testing

At this point, your tank should be ready for maintenance. Keep in mind that the water stored in the tank will remain hot long after the power off.

Start by flushing the temperature and pressure relief valve. This valve is often located on top of the water heater and is designed to vent the tank if pressure or temperature climbs too high. Position a bucket beneath the valve outlet to catch the water. Carefully open the valve and allow hot water to flow into the bucket for a few seconds. When the valve is closed, make sure no water is leaking from the outlet. If water leaks from the closed valve, it often needs to be replaced, and a call to a professional technician might be in order.

Once you’ve flushed and tested the temperature and pressure relief valve, you’re ready to drain and flush the main tank. Attach the garden hose to the drain spigot located at the bottom of your tank. Run the hose to a safe location. Keep in mind, the water in the tank is hot. When the hose is positioned safely, open the drain valve and then the temperature pressure relief valve to empty the water tank. Once the tank is empty, open the cold-water inlet valve to flush the remaining loose sediment from the tank.

When you’re done flushing the tank, close the drainage and pressure relief valves and allow the tank to begin filling. Before powering on or relighting the pilot, turn on hot water faucets in the home and wait until water (it will be cold or cool) begins to flow from the faucets. This will ensure the tank has filled and is ready to power up. Turning power on in a tank that is not filled could damage the heating elements.

Hot Water Heater Tips

The steps above test the main safety mechanism on your hot water heater, and help clear the inside tank of debris and settlement, which can cause the tank to run inefficiently. Here are a few more tips that can help you save on hot water heater energy costs:

  • Temperature should be set at 120-degrees.
  • Lower temperature or set to “vacation mode” when leaving the house for extended periods of time.
  • If you have an old tank, consider replacement or ask a local technician about tankless water heater options.

Annual DIY maintenance is essential in keeping your water heater working efficiently. But if you ever have any problems with it, the experts at Blue Flame can help. Call us at 206-388-5667 to schedule an appointment today!