Your water heater works hard all year round to make sure your family can take hot showers, rinse caked-on food off of pots and pans in the dishwasher and wash your clothes at any temperature you choose.
During the winter, however, the water heater works even harder. Cold weather means it has to spend extra energy to heat water. Extra showers, laundry and dirty dishes during the holiday season mean it has to heat more tanks of water to keep up.
So, don’t ignore it. Like any appliance, your water heater needs attention and maintenance to stay in good working condition.
Take a look. Most homeowners don’t look at their water heaters until there’s a problem, but a glance every now and then could keep those problems at bay. If the outside of the tank is rusting, if water is leaking from it or if you see rusty water stains on the floor surrounding it, call a plumber right away.
Reset the temperature. It’s easier than you think to accidentally raise or lower the temperature setting on a water heater, just by knocking it with a mop while you’re cleaning the floor, for example. Verify that the appliance is set to 120 degrees. You’ll notice a difference in the water temperature in the shower if it’s too low or too high.
Insulate electric water heaters. Insulating the pipes and tanks will keep heat inside the tank and prevent it from escaping into the air. Consider investing in an inexpensive water heater blanket, usually made from foil or fiberglass. It will help the tank maintain a consistent temperature. A tip: Leave it on year-round.
Call for service. An annual “flush” will remove sediment and minerals that can build up in the tank and reduce the heater’s efficiency and lifespan.