How to Winterize Hot Water Heaters
Hot water heaters are responsible for delivering hot water throughout your entire home. Every time you take a shower or wash the dishes, your hot water heater is helping you. Whether your system is electric or fuel-powered, it provides you and your loved ones with warm water throughout your home. such an important part of your home should be serviced regularly, right?
Imagine losing your access to hot water when you need it most! During the winter months, when temperatures drop, and storms are likely, it’s important to make sure that your appliances are working in top shape. A step in this process that you may want to consider is winterizing your hot water heater. Here are a few things you should know about how your hot water heater works, and how you can prepare it for the upcoming winter season.
How Hot Water Heaters Works
In order to properly winterize the water heater in your home, you need to know what kind of system you have in place. Here are the different types of hot water heaters that may be providing your home with hot water:
- Storage tank heaters are the most common water heating systems that are at work in most modern homes. They run on either electricity or fuel; electric heaters will connect to your home service panel and fuel powered will have vents to rid of the exhaust. Both systems work to deliver hot water throughout your home by way of its piping system. For example, when you turn on your shower, hot water is pumped through from your water heater.
- Tankless hot water heaters distribute hot water throughout your home as it’s used, rather than in bulk with a storage tank. As your water boiler heats water, the water heats a coil of pipe that delivers hot water to your taps.
- Heat pumps use electricity to shift heat around, rather than heating areas directly. They can be purchased as standalone models, or they can be added to existing models to increase productivity.
- Solar heaters use the suns energy to heat stored water. While they can prove to be very cost efficient in the long run, they typically require a backup system in the event that the sun isn’t out for a long period of time. Location of solar equipment is also important, it must be placed in a spot with maximum exposure to the sun, like your roof.
- Condensing heaters are used with gas heating systems. A tank is in the place like an average water heater, but a condensing system captures hot exhaust gasses. Traditionally, they would be expelled through a flue but instead, they are gathered to continue heating the water.
How Winter May Affect it
Cold weather can take a toll on certain systems in your home, especially those in place that are intended to provide heat. If your water heater takes more time to heat, or if it shuts down completely, not only will you be without hot water, but your home could face damage as well, like freezing pipes.
Say your heater is set to heat water to 120 degrees. If it’s working properly, it will always heat your water to that specific temperature. However, if it’s working in colder temperatures because the weather outside is freezing, it may take a considerable amount of time longer to reach the desired temperature. Hot water usage tends to increase in the colder months as well; warm showers or baths may be used to compensate for the cooler weather outside. If your water heater is due for servicing or you suspect that it may not be working as well as it should contact a local professional to come take a look.
What Homeowners Can Do
While contacting a professional is always a smart choice, there are steps that you can take on your own to winterize the tank or tankless water heater in your home:
- Locate your water shut-off valve and turn it off. This could be located inside or outside of your home, but it’s important that you know it’s location. After shutting off the water supply, unplug your water heater, or turn of the fuel source powering it. Be sure to see that the pilot light has gone out and that the knob is in the off position.
- Once the heater is turned off, you can drain the remaining water in the tank using a bucket or hose leading to a designated drainage area. Open faucets and fixtures throughout your house, including outside hose connections. Water will drain on its own and eventually stop altogether.
- Pipes leading to and from your water heater can be wrapped for insulation purposes. Blankets are made to specifically protect and insulate the heaters themselves; it can be wrapped around the exterior. This step is optional but recommended for use before freezing temperatures have passed.
- Different protection methods will be necessary for solar heaters, and a professional should be contacted to ensure that they aren’t damaged.
Now that you know how different waters work in your home, you’re ready to prepare them for the cold winter months that are headed your way.
Call Milltown Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning and Drain Cleaning today for more information on hot water heaters!