A chill is returning to the autumn air in New Jersey. It’s time for some home maintenance jobs to get ready for the winter. Don’t neglect your water heater on your list of to-dos. By following a few simple tips, you can help it to work efficiently and save you money on your energy costs.
Most experts recommend setting the thermostat on your water heater to 120°F to prevent scalding. During the winter months, if you find your water isn't quite hot enough, adjusting it by just a few degrees should do the trick.
Keep in mind, however, that reducing the temperature by 10° could lower your energy costs by as much as 5%.
A great way to prevent heat loss and keep your energy costs in check is to add a layer of insulation to your hot water tank and pipes. You can purchase a foil insulating blanket and 3/8" self-adhesive foam pipe insulation at most home-improvement stores. Cut the blanket around the valves, pipes, and thermostat on your water heater and wrap it around the outside of your tank, sealing it using foil tape.
Slide the foam insulation on as much pipe as you can reach. Peel the tape off and squeeze the foam together to seal it.
The rod is an aluminum or magnesium shaft that is inserted into the tank that, by attracting the corrosive elements in the water and allowing itself to rust first, helps to prolong the life of your tank.
With the power and water supply off, drain several gallons from the tank using the drain valve located near the bottom. Unscrew the hex head of the rod located on top of the tank using a one 1/16-inch socket. Retrieve the rod. If it has rusted to less than ½ inch in diameter, it's time for a new one.
You can purchase a replacement anode rod at most hardware and home-improvement stores or from a local professional plumber. Wrap Teflon tape around the threads and tighten the new rod securely in place.
The water that comes into your home has minerals and grit they can accumulate and settle at the bottom of your hot water tank, making it less energy efficient. To clear out that sediment, attach a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of your tank placing the other end into a floor drain or outside. With the power and water supply off, open a hot water tap nearby and open the drain valve.
Once the tank is empty, turn the water supply back on to stir up the sediment at the bottom of the tank and close it once again. Repeat this step until the water comes out clear and free of sand and grit. You can then turn the water supply back on and turn the water heater back on, once it is partially refilled.
By completing these relatively simple steps, you will be reducing your energy consumption throughout the winter months and prolonging the life of your water heater.