Let’s Talk About Water Heaters

As we are getting into winter, you may start having issues with your water heater. Leaks and other issues are common this time of year because your water heater works harder in the winter, and here’s why:

Standing Heat Loss: Most water heaters are set up in a garage or basement, which isn’t kept heated on a regular basis. Colder air circulating around the tank of the water heater means the heat inside the tank will escape faster. This forces your water heater to run longer to replace the lost heat, which increases your cost for gas or electricity.

Colder Water Entering The Tank: The fresh water entering your home is colder at this time of year, so it will take more energy for the water heater to warm it up as it enters the tank.

Increased hot water use: You are much more likely to use more hot water during the cold months. Ever taken a long, hot shower or bath just to warm up?

All these add up to more energy use, and put more wear and tear on your water heater. Sediment build-up from hard water doesn’t help things either. Water heaters are a major investment, so periodic maintenance is a good idea. One of the best things you can do to maintain your water heater is flush it at least once a year. Some areas should be done twice annually.

The problem with flushing, is the drain valve that comes with your water heater does not perform well for flushing. The drain valves that come with water heaters only open up about half-way because of their design, with usually an opening only about 1/4″ which can fill up with sediment and create a clog. We install a 3/4″ ball valve on new water heaters, and can install them on existing water heaters as long as we are able to drain the tank.

Why you should flush your water heater once or twice a year:

As sediment starts to build up on the inside a gas water heater, it insulates the water from the burners. This forces the water heater to eventually overheat the water. As water heats, it expands. So the hotter the water gets, the more pressure builds up inside the tank—until it begins to leak, (common) or worse, explode (rare). The T&P valve usually opens up if it gets too much pressure or too hot unless it is stuck with hard water deposits. If that happens, then you get the explosion. If you have an expansion tank installed, it can only expand so much. When the T&P valve does open up, it usually needs replaced because it gets “stuck” open or will continually leak due to the same hard water deposits. With electric water heaters the sediment build up will burn out the lower element, and then the upper element as it overworks to try and maintain the set temperature of the tank, and can also cause leaks and/or an explosion.

If your water heater pops and cracks while it is heating up, you have a sediment problem. If you aren’t getting as much hot water as you think you should be getting, you have a sediment problem, and if an electric water heater, probably burned out element(s) as well.

Give us a call at 208-713-3170 or fill out our contact formand we can install a flush valve on your water heater and give it a good flush!

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