Why Water Heaters Need Insulation in the Winter

Get Your Hot Water Heater Ready for Winter

Homeowners may need to insulate their water heaters in the winter to prevent heat loss and keep utility bills low. The water heater is one of the most important pieces of home hardware because it provides the home with hot water for bathing, cleaning, and other essential tasks. During the winter, cold temperatures may put extra strain on the water heater, which causes energy bills to rise. 

This blog post discusses why homeowners should add insulating water heaters to their winter to-do list. Preparing the water heater for the coldest months of the year will help homeowners save money and even improve the water heater’s lifespan. Failing to insulate the water heater can lead to unnecessary spending on energy bills and increase the home’s carbon footprint. 

Why is Water Heater Insulation Important?heater

Water heaters are often located in the home’s basement or garage, where the temperatures may fall below freezing during the winter. Because the air and water entering the water heater are colder than normal in the winter, it takes more energy for the water heater to heat and keeps the water warm. Both electric water heaters and gas water heaters can benefit from an extra layer of insulation during the cold winter months. 

The benefits of insulating a water heater in the winter include improved efficiency, saving money on utility bills, decreased wear and tear on the unit, and having more hot water when it is needed. The hot water tank contains gallons of water pre-heated to be available whenever the homeowners need it. While the water sits in the tank, it can lose some of its heat. This is called standby heat loss, and insulation can also help decrease it.

Do All Water Heaters Need Added Insulation?

There are multiple factors for homeowners to consider when considering whether or not they need to insulate their water heater. New water heaters are engineered with better insulation than older models. The older the water heater is, the more likely it is to need insulation, especially in the winter. Aging water heaters can also be less efficient overall, and adding insulation can help. 

The R-value of the water heater is a unit of measurement used to indicate how well-insulated the hot water tank is. The higher the R-value, the better the hot water heater is insulated. If the R-value of the water heater is less than 24, the homeowners should insulate it to promote more efficient performance. The R-value is often listed on the manufacturer’s sticker or manual. 

How to Insulate a Water Heater

insulationTwo common water heater insulation methods are water heater blankets and reflective foil. Water heater blankets are typically made from fiberglass, mineral wool, or vinyl foam and tightly wrap around the water tank. The water heater blanket keeps water warm by helping to reduce the water’s heat loss. It is important to ensure water heater blankets are securely fastened and fit tightly around the water tank for optimal insulation efficiency. 

Reflective foil is another popular material used for water heater insulation. Reflective foil can be found in various sizes and shapes and works by reflecting heat back into the water tank. It is important to ensure reflective foil insulation is installed correctly and sealed with no gaps for the best performance. Homeowners should consult a qualified professional if unsure which water heater insulation material best suits their needs. 

About Water Heaters Only, Inc.

Water Heaters Only, Inc. is a family-owned and operated company that has been serving Phoenix, AZ, and the surrounding areas for over five decades. They provide flat rate pricing, same-day service, and financing. Call them today for water heater services in Phoenix, AZ

Learning About Water Heaters

The Basics of Water Heaters

A conventional water heater with a tank is a household appliance that retains and heats water, keeping it at a consistently elevated temperature to be ready for use. Its main function is to keep water heated, and it’s also used to maintain a steady and constant hot water supply for daily tasks such as showering, bathing, washing dishes, and washing clothes. This blog will discuss the water heater basics homeowners should know.

Different Kinds of Water Heaters

types of water heatersGas Water Heaters

Gas water heaters are nice for homeowners who want to keep their energy bills low while maintaining a constant supply of heated water. These units provide homeowners with an insulated tank where water is stored and heated until needed. Gas water heater tanks can be purchased to work with liquid propane or natural gas, which is how the water is heated.

Electric Water Heaters

Electric water heaters work in a similar way as gas water heaters. They come in an insulated tank but instead use electricity to heat the water stored inside. While gas water heaters are better at keeping energy costs low, electric water heaters are more efficient because they use less energy and release less waste into the environment.

Tankless Water Heaters

Tankless water heaters can come in either gas or electric. Unlike tank heaters, tankless heaters do not have a tank to store and heat water. Instead, they heat water on demand, instantly when needed. For example, when a faucet is turned on, cold water moves through a heat exchanger in the unit to provide the fixture with hot water instead of pulling from the water kept warm in a tank. This is why tankless water heaters are the most efficient and lead to lower utility bills.

Water Heater Maintenance

There are some simple maintenance tasks that water heater tanks require that homeowners can do on their own such as draining the tank and washing out the sediment, checking the anode rod, checking the valves, and adjusting the temperature. However, a professional can be brought in to do these tasks for homeowners who do not have the time, energy, or experience to maintain a water heater themselves.

For homeowners who wish to try these maintenance steps on their own, here are the steps to doing each one:

Testing the TPR Valve

To check the TPR valve, homeowners should follow these steps:

  • Make sure that the power and cold-water supply valve are turned off.
  • Put a bucket underneath the pipe connected to the TPR valve – the valve can be found either on the top or the side of the tank.
  • Pull up on the valve’s tab to allow water out, then let go.

Tanks that continue to let water flow out after the valve tab has been let go of will need a replacement valve.

Checking the Anode Rod

To check the anode rod, homeowners should follow these steps:

  • Attach a hose to the tank’s drain and allow a few gallons of water to flow out
  • Use a one 1/16-inch socket to attach to the rod’s hex head located at the top of the heater or underneath its top plate
  • Unscrew the rod and observe

If the anode rod is less than ½ inch thick or is covered in calcium, it’s time to buy a new one. Before installing the new anode rod, ensure that its threads are wrapped in Teflon tape. It can then be placed back into the tank and tightened.

Flush Water Heater

To drain the tank and wash out the sediment, follow these steps:

  • Drain out the remainder of the water inside the tank, draining it into a bucket
  • Briefly open the cold-water supply valve to stir up the sediment
  • Drain and repeat

Once the water flowing out of the hose is clean, the drain cock can be closed, the tank can be refilled, and the power can be switched back on.

Repairing the Water Heater

professionals should perform repairsSometimes water heaters fail, especially if they are old and worn out. When this happens, homeowners may be at a loss on what to do. Unfortunately, sometimes these heaters will need to be replaced, but sometimes they may be able to be repaired.

There are a few signs that homeowners should look out for when it comes to a failing water heater. If any of the following symptoms are noticed, a professional should be contacted immediately to prevent further damage.

Signs of a faulty water heater include:

  • Discolored water
  • Water has an odor
  • Tank is leaking
  • Odd noises during the heating process
  • Hot water runs out too quickly
  • Water does not reach a good temperature
  • No hot water at all

About Water Heaters Only, Inc.

Water Heaters Only, Inc. is a family-owned and operated business with over 50 years of experience serving Phoenix, AZ, and the surrounding areas. They provide flat rate pricing and same-day service, plus they are available 24 hours a day. Call them today for water heater services in Phoenix, AZ.