Posts Tagged With: water heater maintenance

Need Hot Water & Heat? Best Practices for Maintaining Your Systems

winterize hot water heater and furnaceIt is easy to forget about your hot water heater and heating system until they stop working. With a little preventative maintenance you can avoid impromptu cold showers and costly repair bills. Make sure to add draining your hot water heater and servicing your HVAC system to you winter preparations.

Flush your hot water heater once a year

Draining your hot water heater once a year will help keep that blessed hot water flowing. Sediment from minerals in the water, or sand and grit coming in through the municipal water lines, can settle at the bottom of the tank and hinder its efficiency. It will cause cracking and popping noises during the heating process. Flushing the tank will help extend its life.

How to drain your hot water heater:

  • Read the manufacturer recommended instructions on the side of the tank for your specific model
  • Turn water supply off
  • Turn off power – if you have a gas water heater, put it on the “pilot” setting, and if you have an electric tank make sure to turn it off at the circuit breaker
  • Let water cool overnight or use extreme caution when removing scalding water
  • Attach hose to drain valve at base of unit, extend hose outside house or into a bucket (use a good quality hose since hot water can cause worn hoses to leak)
  • Open a hot water tap in the house (preferably one on the floor above)
  • Open drain valve and drain some water into a bucket to determine the amount of sediment to be flushed out
  • Turn water supply on briefly to stir up remaining sediment, repeat until water draining out hose is clear
  • Close drain valve, refill tank, and turn on power/ gas to hot water heater (be sure to close the hot water tap you left open)
  • Check the valve opening at bottom of tank to make sure it is closed and there are no leaks

Extend the life of your furnace

The HVAC system in a home accounts for over 50% of total energy costs. Having your unit serviced before winter sets in will help to extend the furnace life, reduce energy bills and improve indoor air quality. The cost of a professionally done system tune-up will run between $70 -$100. Included in this service should be:

  • A check of all electrical connections
  • An examination the unit for fire hazards
  • A test for carbon monoxide leakage
  • An inspection and calibration of the thermostat
  • Lubrication of any moving parts
  • Inspection of the condensation drain to make sure it isn’t blocked

Beware of carbon monoxide leaks

Carbon monoxide leaks from a faulty furnace is dangerous. An estimated 500 people die and 15,000 are taken to the emergency room each year from exposure to this invisible gas. Symptoms are headaches, dizziness and nausea. Installing carbon monoxide and fire detectors in your home could help keep you and your family safe.

Change air filter every month

You can keep your HVAC running efficiently by changing the air filters once a month. It will keep the unit from overheating. Dirty filters worsen air quality and exacerbate allergies and asthma symptoms. Pet dander can also accumulate in dirty filters and spread allergens throughout your home.

Programmable thermostats really save

One way you can help extend the life of your unit (and lower heating bills) is to install a programmable thermostat. It can help save you up to 10% on your energy bills. By setting your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and higher in the summer, you can see a noticeable difference in your bills. Check with your power company to see if there are any rebates available for upgrading your thermostat.

A little preventative maintenance goes a long way

Waking up to a cold house or stepping into a cold shower is no one’s idea of a great way to start to the day. Draining your hot water heater, getting your HVAC serviced, and changing that dirty air filter can help you avoid unwanted repair bills. The goal is to stay warm this winter and with a little preventative maintenance you can do just that. For more helpful DIY tips check out our blog on preparing your home for winter.

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your DIY winterizing projects. From wet/dry vacuums and garden hoses to heaters, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: DIY Projects, Fall Checklist, How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

3 More Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter

Getting your home ready for winter’s weather is a priority for most homeowners, especially in the fall, before the cold stuff starts to fly. We’ve put together three more ways to protect your home and property – then you can cross “winterizing” off your to-do list. Don’t delay!

3 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Winter

1. Tune-Up Your Home Heating System

In addition to preparing your home to keep heat in for the winter (consider linking to part 1 of this blog series), keeping your furnace and other heating equipment clean and in good running condition, helps ensure proper heat output, reducing energy use and heating costs.

  • Check if your utility company offers free or discounted annual checkups of your home’s heating system by qualified technicians, and call early to avoid the rush. Another resource to try is furnace manufacturers or dealers that offer free or discounted inspections.
  • If your furnace needs a new part, by all means get it replaced now – it will not only save your money, but perhaps a little heartache, if the furnace decides to poop out during a winter storm. Plus it’s a lot more cost efficient to replace a part rather than replace the entire furnace.
  • Consider upgrading to a new energy efficient furnace to not only save money, but also increase the value of your home. Typically you’ll save 50% or more and you could qualify for federal tax credit.
  • Clean or replace furnace filters now before the heating season begins and once a month during the heating season. A regular filter maintenance schedule can help increase the need for more energy due to dirty filters, which restrict the airflow.
  • Switching to a permanent or HEPA filter can reduce waste and keep the spread of illness-causing bacteria, mold, viruses and pollen in check.

While you’re at it … if you have ceiling fans installed in the house, get out the ladder and switch the direction of the blades to winter mode, or a clockwise direction, which moves warm air near the ceiling down through the living space.

2. Maintain Your Water Heater

As with any other main system in your house, doing a check-up on your water heater before the winter season can save you time, money and frustration.

  • Turn down the water heater from the factory – set 140 degrees F to 120 degrees or lower, reducing energy costs and preventing any potential scalding or water burns.
  • Flush the tank by turning off power from the fuse box and turning the thermostat to “pilot.” Turn off the cold water supply and attach a hose to the valve drain at the bottom of the heater, running the hose to a bucket or trough. Open the drain value and allow water to flow for five to seven minutes. Let the water stand in the bucket and check for mineral deposits. Continue draining until the water is clear, adding cold water to the heater, if needed. Unhook the hose, close the drain valve, turn on the water supply and let the tank re-fill. Remember to bleed air by opening up the hot water faucet in the house. Once the water is hot, it’s safe to turn the power back on from the fuse box.
  • Replacing a tanked water heater with a tankless water heater can save you this step, save money, and can also qualify you for a tax credit.

3. Get the Fireplace Ready

Whether you have a fuel-burning stove or an insert, make sure your fireplace is in running condition.

  • Examine the doors and gaskets of the wood stove or fireplace insert for a tight seal.
  • Have the chimney cleaned by a professional chimney sweep.
  • Buy wood or fuel in bulk, a supply for at least half of the winter season, if not more.
  • Check grates for damage and replace if needed.
  • Check the pilot and natural gas supply on inserts.

While you’re at it … get out those sweaters and dress warmer for the colder weather. “Personal heaters” such as fleece vests and jackets, long-sleeved shirts and cozy wool or cotton sweaters can add up to four degrees of warmth directly where it’s needed. Who knew?

Expert Advice

Our expert staff is always on hand to help you plan your next winterizing project. From heaters to hoses and everything in-between, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-tos, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

Categories: Fall Checklist, How-To's, Restore and Renovate | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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