Preparing for winter doesn't just entail taking winter clothes out of storage. The appliances you use also need to be prepped in order for them to work well throughout winter and survive the cold. Your water heater, an important appliance for the winter, especially needs attention if you do not want to run out of hot water for bathing, cooking, cleaning, and other purposes. If your water heater is not ready for the cold winter, you are running the risk of damaging it. So to avoid inconveniences that can be brought about by the absence of a water heater, you would do well to make sure of a few things.
Though water heaters themselves do not freeze in the winter, the same cannot be said for house pipes. External house pipes connected to your water heater need to be insulated against the cold. This way, water won't freeze on the way to and from the water heater. You can avoid overworking your water heater by avoiding frozen water in the pipes. You can use aluminum foil as a quick fix, though it would be better to use foam insulation. You can also use heat tape.
Another way to keep water from freezing in your pipes is to circulate water constantly, especially on days or nights of lower temperature. The constantly running water will have fewer chances to settle and freeze. Keeping your water running, of course, can cost more money and use up more energy, but it is worth it in the long run. However, it is a small expense and inconvenience that can be brought about by damaged pipes.
Even before you install your water heater, you should be thinking of how it would fare in the winter. This means that you should be careful and selective about where you put your water heater. Ideally, your water heater should be in a part of your house that has more heat. You should avoid putting your water heater in the garage, as it would be colder, especially in the winter. If your water heater is in a warmer place, it is less likely to sustain damage from very low temperatures.
As time goes by, sediment from water can collect in your water heater. This sediment can negatively impact your water heater's performance, affect the quality and acidity of heated water, and even help corrode the inside of your water heater. You would do well to regularly get rid of the collected sediment at least once every year. You can have a professional like http://www.plumbersinguildford.co.uk drain the sediment out of your water heater if you are unsure of how to proceed.
You also need to make sure that you have enough fuel to keep your water heater and other appliances running. Insufficient fuel will negatively impact your water heater's performance. Check your meter and try to estimate if you will have enough fuel for all of your appliances all winter. You can also ask your gas company if your household consumption exceeds your meter.