It’s easy to take your water heater for granted…until you turn the shower head on and get drenched in an ice-cold rain of droplets. Although that’s not such a nice start to your day, you’ve got bigger problems to think about when the hot water stops flowing. Knowing what steps to take when problems happen is one thing, but proper maintenance is also a key to sidestepping many common water heater problems. Read on to get the low-down on this workhorse appliance, including maintenance tips and your replacement options should your old appliance bite the dust.
Proper Care for Your Heater
HouseLogic reveals that most water heater models are designed to last 15 years or more. With that in mind, a few key maintenance tips can help keep your unit working in peak condition throughout its lifetime. Reducing its temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit cuts back on the risk of someone being scalded and gives you the added benefit of lowering your energy costs by up to 5 percent. Secondly, you must maintain at least two feet of clearance around your appliance. Thirdly, draining the tank two to three times during the year removes any sediment and debris
Besides these basics, HouseLogic offers other useful tips for safe and efficient operation. If you feel capable of testing the temperature relief valve on your own, you can do so by quickly discharging it two or three times in a row. You may also opt to insulate older units with a fiberglass jacket, but take care to avoid the materials coming in contact with the flue. Finally, try adjusting the thermostat to vacation mode when you’re away from home for more than a few days. This keeps the pilot light on without heating its contents.
Know Your Replacement Options
HouseLogic explains that standard, high-efficiency, tankless, and solar versions provide water for an entire household. Meanwhile, point-of-use models augment available hot water for specific supply areas, such as a kitchen sink. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating water comprises about 18 percent of total energy usage in most American households. That works out to between $400 and $600 per family and makes up the second largest expenditure of energy in each home. With such a significant chunk of your budget devoted to this essential function, it doesn’t hurt to check into energy-smart options:
- High-efficiency (HE) heaters, which come in both gas and electric editions
- Solar tanks, which rely on a thermal collector to bring your water to temperature
- Tankless, which only heat what you need on an on-demand basis
HE models let you use between 10 and 20 percent less energy, especially if you select a version that’s certified by ENERGY STAR and that has an Energy Factor (EF) of 0.67 or greater. Solar-powered editions are ideal for warm climates and last around five years longer than other types, but come with a price tag in the $8,000 to $10,000 range. Tankless units offer efficiency by not heating stored water, but may not be robust enough to supply a high-demand household. You water heater services professionals can recommend the best type to install in your home.
Don’t Get Left Out in the Cold
Hot water heaters are wonderful conveniences inside our homes but can present a litany of problems when they fail to function properly. Without a steady supply of heated water, life comes to a screeching halt. It’s vital to learn was in which you can keep your current unit operation and productive throughout its lifespan. With gas versions as well as electric models available, you’ve got more options from which to choose should you need to replace your current appliance. An unwanted cold shower can be a nuisance, but it also allows you to choose a more energy-smart unit for your home.