Friday, February 17, 2006

Keeping Your Hot Water Heater in Top Shape

Keeping the hot water heater in tip top condition may not be on anyone’s list of favorite things to do, but it is important to take proper care of this important appliance. The water heater is one of the top energy consumers in any home, and keeping it in great shape can have an important impact on your energy bills. In addition, keeping the water heater in good shape will help keep it from breaking down in the middle of your next shower.

Some tips for keeping your hot water heater running smoothly:

Ø Set the thermostat of the hot water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit if you do not also have a dishwasher. If you do have a dishwasher in the home, check the manual that came with the water heater for the proper thermostat setting.
Ø Drain the tank of the hot water heater about three or four times a year. This is essential if you have hard water, but it is important even if you have a water softener installed.
Ø Make sure your water heater is not losing heat. Feel the side of the heater. If it feels hot to the touch, you may want to wrap it with an insulating blanket of Fiberglass. These hot water heater blankets are available at most home improvement stores. If you do use such a blanket, be sure never to cover the top of the heater. The hot water heater needs air circulation in order to operate safely and efficiently.
Ø Look for the plate on the hot water heater that states how many gallons of water it can heat per hour. If the heater seems to be slow, like if you are not getting additional hot water within 15 minutes of running out, the water heater may be having problems. Start looking for a solution before the problem gets worse.
Ø If you are going to be away for more than a couple of days, turn off the hot water heater. This will help to preserve the life of the water heater and save on your energy bills.
Ø If you have a gas hot water heater, take care never to block the air flow going to the burner in the bottom. If you do so the pilot flame will not be able to get enough oxygen, and the pilot light will go out.

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