According to the U.S. Department of Energy, water heating accounts for about 18% of your home\’s energy use. That means having a functioning water heater is important, especially as the winter months approach, and neglecting your appliance can cost countless dollars in the long run.

Most households utilize their water heater daily for a number of tasks, such as showering or doing laundry. However, it can be one of the most neglected, ignored tools in your home.

The average water heater will last between 8-12 years, but maintenance must be kept up with to keep them running. So, how do you avoid an issue before it’s too late?

Here’s what you should do to ensure your water heater is in tip-top shape all year long and no surprise ice-cold showers or mishaps are in your near future.

Check on your Pressure Valve

Whether you have an electric or gas water heater, they all include a temperature and pressure relief valve for safety. That’s because water heaters have the ability to over pressurize and eventually burst. To perform a check on yours, ensure you are first equipped with the proper tools: gloves, goggles, and clothing to protect your skin. Before you do anything, shut off the power to the water heater, or shut off the gas entirely. Then, you can grab a bucket, slide it under the pressure valve pipe, and open the lever. Hot water should flow out, and if it doesn’t, you’ll need to replace your valve!

Watch the Temperature

Having your water heater running too hot or too cold can hike up your energy costs, so setting it to the ideal temperature is vital. The U.S Department of Energy recommends a temperature of 120 degrees, despite the average manufacturer setting them to 140 degrees. A temperature difference of just 20 degrees can cause burns or scalding to the average consumer, meaning staying at the suggested heat is extremely important. The thermostat is located in different spots for gas and electric water heaters, so consult your owner’s manual for your particular model and perform the adjustment safely.

Drain your Water Heater Tank Often

One of the biggest reasons that water heaters break down or explode is from sediment buildup. Draining your unit several times a year can expand the life of your tank by years and protect you and your home. To perform a drain, start by turning off the water supply, screwing a simple garden hose onto the drainpipe, and letting the water run into a bucket for a minute. The water should run clear if properly cleaned, so if the water is murky, quickly open the water supply valve to stir up the remaining debris and perform the drain again until clear.

Inspect your “Sacrificial” Anode Rod

Another huge issue that can plague water heaters is internal rusting. Inside your tank is a 3 to5 foot rod that collects the rust and prevents it from corroding the walls. But it too can corrode, so it needs to be looked at often. It’s recommended that you check your anode rod every 2-3 years and replace it every 4-5 years. If you have a water softener, you should cut the years between inspections and replacements in half. Keeping up with this simple task can extend the life of your heater even further.

Insulate the Exterior of your Water Heater

Despite the internal temperature of your water heater being high, the elements where you live can damage your appliance if you aren’t careful. For instance, if you live in a cold climate, your tank may break down quicker than the typical container. Adding insulation around the pipes and heater itself can protect it from any weather it may be exposed to and prevent leaks due to deterioration. As always, make sure you perform this job wearing the proper safety gear.

Need a new water heater or assistance inspecting yours? B&D Industries can help. Contact us to learn more about our mission to provide excellent service delivery and exceptional customer experience. We’re changing the industry – one project and one relationship at a time.