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Preparing Water Heater For Winter

It’s no secret that we are fortunate to live in the great state of Texas. And one of the many fortunate aspects of living in the Texas is our mild winters.  Preparing our homes for winter is rarely an ordeal. At least, that used to be the case. Recent have winters have shown us how vulnerable our homes are to more extreme conditions that we need to ensure they’re ready for anything. There are a lot of great ways to winterize your home and its systems. Our website is full of tips! You can get your AC unit cleaned, your systems tuned up, among other things. We want to ensure that your home is prepared to keep you safe and warm, that it can handle extreme conditions without breaking under the pressure, and that you maintain manageable energy costs year-round. One of best ways you can do all of this is water heater and plumbing maintenance.

First and foremost, as always, we would like to iterate that DIY is always a risk. Without the proper knowledge, experience, and equipment, you can create potentially dangerous circumstance for yourself, your family, and your home. Never underestimate the kind of costs those damages can entail. These tips can be done by yourself, but we would almost always suggest professional services such as Dr. Rescue.

The problems we address are primarily about heating and plumbing efficiency as pipe bursts due to frozen pipes is not a common issue those of us here in warm Houston. However, as we’ve said, recent winters have shown us anything can happen and the conditions that lead to frozen and bursting pipes are becoming more common.

  1. The easiest way to ensure your water heater is operating efficiently is to set the heater’s thermostat at 120 degrees. This is the standard for a reason. At this temperature, it can operate efficiently and safely without wasting you energy and money. Check the temperature, if it’s higher, turn it down. Higher than 120 is not only dangerous, children especially can easily burn themselves, but it is also useless and wasteful. Setting the temperature higher, especially when the outside conditions are colder, will affect the water heater cycle, causing to consume more energy. Turning it down will save money and be safer.
  1. We always suggest regular maintenance for all your HVAC and plumbing systems as it takes care of many of the issues you would be likely to encounter. One of the processes that regular maintenance would include is checking the TPR valve and draining and flushing out your water tank. The TPR valve regulate pressure in the tank. If it isn’t working properly, it can affect the functionality of the tank and even become dangerous. As for the tank, over time, sediment builds up within your tank, accumulating and settling at the bottom. A dirty tank hampers the system from heating water efficiently and it can reduce the life span of the water heater. The tank should be drained about once a year to remove the accumulation of mineral and waste deposits. Otherwise, your heater works overtime to work. This can be dangerous, but we have a post about the process if you’re set on doing it yourself.

Another tried and true method for plumbing maintenance is pipe insulation. This one is commonly done DIY styles. Some easy insulation materials such as foam can be purchased and placed in any spot through which cold or hot water flows. We also suggest insulating pipes in other places of the house that you can reach easily. Might as well! Some simple insulation methods can help prevent freezing and will also help reduce the transfer of heat. Insulation has also been known to increase water temperature by a few degrees, so your saving your heater energy on that front. The main concern here in Texas is efficiency but again, bursting frozen pipes is becoming a bigger issue so this is still helpful for that.

A slightly less likely but still very possible solution is that your water heater is too old and needs replacement. Even if still works, may be spending too much and using too much energy to get it to work. Water heaters last about 10 years, give or take depending on the maintenance it received over the years. If you’re finding that your problems don’t go way despite everything you’ve tried, it may be time to replace it.

Here are some other things you can be on the lookout for that affect the efficiency of your pipes and heater. You can inspect for rust and corrosion. Corroded pipes make bursts and leaks more likely. In fact, rust might be a sign of an existing leak that you want dealt with asap. You’ll see this more commonly closer to the water heater. You can also keep an ear open for water hammer, or the sound of pipes banging around. This can cause damage to your pipes and lead to an eventual burst.

When in doubt our best and most useful advice we can give you is this: CALL PROFESSIONAL PLUMBING SERVICES. At Dr. Rescue, our experts and trained and qualified to find and solve your problem efficiently and properly. Improper work can and most likely will cause you more expensive issues down the road and can put you and your family at risk. We operate with integrity, prioritize your safety, and have your best interests in mind so you know we will do the job right every single time.

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