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When to Insulate the Water Heater

Prepare the Hot Water Tank for Winter

The plumbing system takes a hard hit in winter, and the water heater is no exception. Whether a tankless water heater, gas water heater, or electric water heater, professionals want to ensure that homeowners have all the information they need to decide if and how to insulate their water heater. Continue reading to find out why insulation is so important, how to know if a water heater needs insulation, and the different insulation options available. 

Insulation is Important: Here’s Why

heaterWhen winter comes, everything gets colder, including the water coming through the piping system and into the home. The colder water inevitably takes longer to heat up because of the colder starting point and the colder temperatures around the water heater if located in a chilly garage or basement. The water heater must work harder to warm the water, and then it also suffers standby heat loss. 

Standby heat loss refers to the heat lost from the warm water inside the tank when not in use. When a tank isn’t insulated, it can’t hold onto the warm temperature of the water for as long and must also work harder to keep the water warm. Therefore, the water heater not only has to work harder to heat the colder water, but it also has to reheat the water inside the tank each time it’s used, leading to higher utility bills. 

Insulation helps homeowners:

  • Get warmer water faster and keep it longer
  • Reduce water heating costs on utility bills
  • Reduce standby heat loss
  • Fewer breakdowns and repair bills 

How to Tell if Insulation is Needed

Telltale signs indicate to homeowners when it’s necessary to insulate a water heater. It’s important to consider a water heater's age when determining whether it needs insulation. Most modern water heaters are designed with good insulation and likely don’t need additional insulation. However, if the unit isn’t new, homeowners may want to examine its current R-value and consider adding insulation if the rating is below 24. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation and, therefore, the less energy the water heater will need to heat water. 

If homeowners decide to insulate their old water heater, be sure to follow proper safety protocols and select insulation materials with a high enough R-value for efficient heating. Additionally, properly sealing any gaps or cracks will further improve the efficiency of a water heater.  In short, a good rule to follow is that if the water heater is more than ten years old or has an R-value lower than 24, it likely needs insulation. 

Different Types of Insulation

insulationWhen it comes to insulating water heaters, there are several different methods and materials available. Fiberglass insulation is the most common material, which helps keep the tank from losing too much heat. It can be wrapped around the outside of the tank and secured with tape or straps. Another popular option for insulating water heaters is mineral wool, made from recycled materials like glass, slate, and rock. This type of insulation has a higher R-value than fiberglass, meaning it does a better job of preventing heat from escaping. Additionally, mineral wool can be cut to fit the exact size of the tank for maximum efficiency. 

Other options for insulating water heaters include spray foam insulation, which is sprayed directly onto the tank and has a high R-value for excellent heat retention. Another option is reflective foil insulation. Finally, there are water heater blankets made of many materials, including polyester or fiberglass, that can be wrapped around the outside of the tank. These blankets provide an extra layer of insulation and also help protect the tank from moisture, making them a great choice for areas with high humidity. 

No matter which type of insulation someone chooses, it’s essential to ensure that it is properly installed and maintained to ensure optimal performance. Additionally, follow all safety guidelines when working with insulation materials. By taking the time to insulate the water heater correctly, homeowners can significantly decrease their energy consumption and save money on their utility bills.

About Sewer Squad Plumbing & Drain Services 

Sewer Squad Plumbing & Drain Services has over 6 years of local experience serving Oshawa, ON, and the surrounding areas. They provide upfront pricing, industry-leading warranties, and no overtime charges or after-hour fees. Call them today for plumbing issues in Oshawa, ON.