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Winterizing your Hot Water Heater

Winterizing Your Hot Water Heater


Baby, it’s cold outside and believe it or not, so is the water that enters your home; it can get up to 25 degrees colder in the winter! This is one big reason to give your hot water heater a little TLC.

Because your water heater works a little harder than normal during the winter, it is particularly important to keep it properly maintained and winterized.

Follow the tips below to provide your water heater the best chance at a long life and to help prevent unexpected cold weather issues:

** Always read the owner’s manual for instructions on how to operate and maintain your water heater. For safety reasons, always shut off electricity / gas before making any adjustments. Recommended tips are used at your own risk. If you are unsure, contact a certified plumber to properly winterize and maintain your hot water heater.


The Department of Energy recommends keeping the tempurature of your hot water heater to 120 degrees which is sufficient for a steamy shower and most hot water needs within the home. Higher temperature settings can produce scalding water or heat loss which can result in higher utility costs. 


It’s the safety feature of your hot water heater ( gas or electric ). The pressure release valve releases pressure if the tempurature becomes too hot, keeping your heater from bursting. You can check it by lifting the lever half way a few times in a row. You should hear a hissing sound and the lever should pop back into place. If not, contact a professional to make sure your valve is working properly.

Insulation is not just for walls, it’s also great for your hot water heater.  ( Especially older tanks ).  Wrap your hot water tank with fiberglass insulation or foil blankets to conserve heat and heat water faster.  It can save you a lot of money in the long run. Be careful not to wrap the top of a gas tank. ( avoid the flue duct ).  If you are not sure how to insult your water heater properly, call a professional for help.

Flushing your water heater will remove sediments that build up in your tank over time. You can flush as often as every few months, but it’s recommended to flush at least every six months. The sediments can deteriorate the life of your tank and make the water hard, reducing efficiency.

  1. Turn off the cold water supply.
  2. Turn off the thermostat / power & shut off gas to the heater. ( heating a tank without water will cause damage )
  3. Connect a drain hose to the bottom of the tank with the other end outside.
  4. Open hot water faucets. ( This will allow the water to drain faster. )
  5. Open the drain valve and let drain. ( Be aware of drain location, children, and water tempurature when draining to prevent injuries or accidents. )
  6. Once emptied, turn on the cold water supply for a few minuets to clean the inside then turn back off.
  7. Remove the drain and insure the valve is free of sediment. Once closed, turn off the faucets and turn the water back on to fill the tank.

See your original owners manual for proper shut off and handling of your water heater to prevent damage. If you are not sure how to flush your water heater properly, call a professional for help