While the folks at Top Notch Heating, Cooling, & Plumbing love the fine city of Kansas City, we understand why some of our customers may want to escape to warmer, more tropical locations during the wintertime. After all, the coming months may produce temperatures in the teens (or lower!). If you are going to be away from your home for any extended period of time, you will need to winterize your water heater to prevent it from freezing and possibly breaking—this is part of effective water heater maintenance. The process of winterizing a hot water heater is pretty easy and could save you thousands, but it’s important you follow the steps correctly.
Water Heater Maintenance Steps
Follow these wintertime water heater maintenance steps:
- Unplug your water heater if it is electric or turn off the gas to the heater if it is a gas heater. Check to make sure the pilot light has gone out. Locate the control box at the bottom and front of the heater and turn the knob to the OFF position.
- Locate the incoming water line to your house and turn off the water. The shut-off valve may be at one of two places: it may be on the outside of the house where your exterior hose connection is, or it may be just inside the basement where the water line enters the house. Turn the wheel all the way clockwise to shut it off.
- Locate the drain at the bottom of the tank—it should have a connector that a garden hose can be screwed onto. If you have a floor drain or can direct a garden hose to an outside area where the water from the tank can safely drain, attach a garden hose to the drain. If there is no possible way to drain the tank with a water hose, you will need to use a bucket and drain the tank—one bucket at a time (it’ll be worth it, we promise!).
- Turn the drain on by turning the handle all the way in a counter-clockwise direction. Next, open the air vent at the top of the tank by flipping the lever into an upright position. Depending on the tank you have and how old it is, expect it to take up to 30 minutes for the tank to drain completely.
- Open all the sink faucets in your house, including faucets in the kitchen, the basement, and the bathroom. Leave the faucets open—they should drain a small amount of water and then stop.
- Wrap pipes leading into and out of the top of the heater with insulation and wrap duct tape around the insulation to hold it in place. Finally, place a water heater blanket around the tank. Not only does this contribute to water heater maintenance by extending the life of your heater, it could allow you to save money on your energy bills as well.
If you need help with any of these steps or require some other type of water heater maintenance, contact us. We’ll send a licensed professional your way. Remember, following these steps now could save you thousands of dollars in costly damages later.