The Biggest Water Heater Mistake You Never Want To Make

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The Biggest Water Heater Mistake You Never Want To Make

A properly working water heater is a critical part of your home’s plumbing infrastructure. Sometimes pricey to keep up and repair, a good water heater is well worth the investment. We can totally understand wanting to DIY your water heater installation, but please don’t. There are important reasons why calling a professional plumbing company for the purchase and installation of a water heater will save you money in the long run, but we will wrap up with those.

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Let’s first talk about DIY work we do recommend on already installed water heaters. These can save some cash and who doesn’t love a little weekend home repair work to feel super accomplished?

As for service maintenance on your water heater, we give that DIY project two thumbs up! Perform this service about once a year. Here’s what you do:

1. Check your Temperature-Pressure-Release (TPR) Valve

Shut off the water supply valve and power to the water heater unit. Next, look for the TPR valve on the side or top of the tank. Place a bucket underneath before lifting the tab to let some water out. If the water keeps flowing after you let go, you need to replace it.

Replacing a TPR isn’t too difficult, but we recommend stopping here to get a licensed plumber involved. The TPR serves the very important function of making sure the tank pressure doesn’t get too high, causing your water heater to explode. Like in this Mythbusters episode!

2. Check the Anode Rod

 

First, drain a few gallons of water out of the tank. Use a regular garden hose attached to the tank’s drain to do so. Next, use a 1 1/16-inch socket wrench to remove the anode rod from the top of the water heater. We are looking at the thickness of the rod and for calcium buildup. If the rod is less than ½-inch thick or coated in calcium, we want to replace.

Replacing an anode rod is simple to do on your own. Just buy a new one at a home improvement store, wrap the threads with Teflon tape, and put it back in the tank as you found the old one. Make sure to tighten securely.

3. Rinse Out Sediment

This is probably the most important step for improving the lifespan of your water heater. Since we have already started draining the tank, let’s go all the way and empty it. Once empty, add a bit of cold water by opening that supply valve we turned off in step one. Repeat this procedure until the water runs clear. After closing the drain completely, you can reopen the supply valve you turned off in the first step to refill. Now you’re ready to turn the power back on.

It’s very important to do this step no less than once per year. Sediment left for too long begins to corrode the bottom of the tank. If it’s been several years since you last drained your tank, it’s actually better to leave it alone and get whatever life you have left out of the tank. A corroded tank will create hotspots that are sure to kill your water heater almost immediately.

Optional Steps For Energy Savings

 

1. Check Your Temperature

On the side of your tank you’ll see a temperature dial. The recommended temperature for a residential water heater is 120 degrees. Some may want to turn it up to help taps farther away from the water heater get hotter faster. Others may want to lower it for energy savings. To change the temperature, unscrew the cover and either use the knob or a flathead screwdriver to adjust the dial.

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But we strongly suggest not straying away too much from 120 degrees! If you go higher, there’s a chance of voiding the warranty on the water heater. Going lower puts you at risk for Legionnaires disease.

Tip: If you’re going to be away from home for more than three days, it’s best to either turn your water heater off or put it in “vacation” mode if that option’s available. This saves energy and reduces the risk of a malfunction that could cause flooding while you’re away.

2. Insulation

Insulating your water heater and hot water pipes can create real energy savings. Also, because the water heater isn’t working as hard, it can prolong the life of the water heater. Start by purchasing 3/8-inch foam pipe insulation and an insulating blanket at a home improvement store. The foam pipe insulation should already have a slit in it, making it easy to fit over the pipes. Peel the tape off the inside and squeeze it around the pipe to adhere. Cut to size as needed. From the vent, be sure to leave at least six inches of space before starting the insulation for safety purposes.

 

Insulating the heater is a matter of cutting the insulating blanket to size and wrapping it around the side of the tank. The blanket itself will look like a love-child of foil and bubble wrap. Be sure to cut out access to the pipes, TPR valve and thermostat. You don’t want to cover these important tools. Use foil tape to secure the blanket in place.

The One Mistake You Don’t Want to Make

 

Water heaters are one of the few products left that have a huge quality difference between professional grade and consumer grade. The water heaters that we have access to buy as licensed professionals are of a higher quality – and have more options – than what’s at home improvement stores. Those stores’ best models are the base models for what we have access to.

Offering the best quality of water heater, along with serious safety and code concerns, are why we urge customers to not try a DIY install (or supply) of their own water heaters. For roughly the same price, All Clear Plumbing can give a water heater rated to last about twice as long as what is available through home improvement stores. We’re talking about 7 vs. 15 when it comes to years of service. Plus, you don’t have to worry about getting the sizing, supply lines, expansion tanks, sweating copper, venting and everything else right.

 

When You Need a Water Heater Installed

 

If your water heater is on its last leg or has quit on you completely, give All Clear Plumbing a call at 864-979-7059. Our prices are fair and our work quality is impeccable. Let our licensed, qualified team of plumbers take care of this home improvement hassle for you. Hot showers and clean dishes are right around the corner!

Article Author: Anja Smith

Managing Partner

Anja Smith is the author behind the All Clear Plumbing blog. She also writes regularly for Plumber Magazine, TradeBizToolbox.com, and on Medium