How To Install An Insulation Blanket On A Water Heater Tank

One of the best ways of preventing energy loss from an existing water heater is to insulate it with a blanket. Before you purchase an insulation kit, you may want to perform the simple test explained below.  

The Test

Before you start, confirm that your water heater tank needs to be insulated. A simple way of doing this is to place your hands on the exterior surface of the tank. If it is warm to your touch, then you need to insulate it. If it is cool, then you may not save much energy by insulating it. Most new water heaters will feel cold to the touch since they are well insulated from the factory.

The Requirements

  • Marker
  • Electrical tape
  • Insulating blanket
  • Safety gear (a pair of gloves and gas mask are adequate)

Step 1: Turn Off the Water Heater

Always turn off the water heater before you begin any work on it. The process of turning off the water heater depends on its energy source. For a gas water heater:

  • Locate the gas supply line above, behind or to the side of the heater. Follow this line from the heater to the supply valve.
  • Turn the valve handle clockwise until it no longer turns (this should be when it is perpendicular to the gas line).
  • Locate the water supply line above the water heater and turn it clockwise until it stops.

For an electric water heater, switch off the circuit breaker at the electric panel and then follow the last step above to turn off the water supply.

Step 2: Measure and Cut Blanket

To fit the blanket properly on the tank, first measure your tank from the top to bottom, and then use the measurements to cut the blanket. For a gas water heater, leave the top open so that you do not block the gas vents since such a blockage can lead to a fire outbreak from the exhaust gases. For an electric heater, you can cover both the sides and the top.

For both types of water heaters, ensure that your insulating blanket does not go over the access panels at the sides of the tank. The easiest way to do this is to position the blanket temporarily on the tank (you can use the electrical tape for this) and mark the access areas (such as burner or relieve valve sections). Next, take down the blanket and cut off these sections.

Step 3: Install the Blanket

You are now ready to install the blanket. All you have to do is to wrap it around the tank and tape it into place using the accompanying tape. Make sure all the cut-out area are lined-up with their corresponding structures. Lastly, just turn on the water supply line, turn the water heater back on and you are done.

According to The Dollar Stretcher, proper insulation of the tank can reduce your tank's energy losses by between 25% and 45%. This means if you cannot handle the project efficiently on your own, then you are better off with a professional plumbing installer for maximum energy savings.