Residents in San Antonio, TX and nearby cities can see their water heaters experience significant side effects relating to performance and longevity when winters are colder than usual in south-central Texas. Winter storms of recent years have done significant damage to water heaters and pipes in the area, causing plumbers to be busy with water heater repair and other tasks throughout the coldest season. Winter Storm Uri of 2021 even surpassed Hurricane Harvey in terms of insured losses, with over 15 billion recorded.
It is crucial to plan for proper water heater maintenance to avoid unexpected repairs. There are several effects that colder weather can have on this vital appliance.
Can a hot water heater freeze?
One common question that people unfamiliar with the inner workings of water heaters often ask is, can the cold weather actually cause the water inside my heater to freeze?
Tankless water heaters are equipped with ‘freeze protection’ that prevents the unit from freezing and reduces the likelihood of water heater repair in winter, as long as there is an active electrical supply. However, frost can occur when there is a combination of freezing temperatures and extended power outages.
Traditional gas tank-style water heaters do not require electricity to operate. As long as gas is available to the home, the heater should keep the tank at the right temperature. The possibility of water freezing typically only occurs if the gas is turned off for extended periods, or if the heater is an electric-powered tank-style unit.
However, the water lines running to the heater are the most vulnerable to breaks caused by the freeze-thaw process, and you may require a water heater repair service to fix any broken pipes leading to the unit.
What impact does cold weather have on a water heater?
Plumbing is the last thing homeowners should be worrying about in winter when the weather’s cold. A functioning water heater is an essential part of your San Antonio, TX home’s comfort and functionality. Cold weather can cause over-expansion of your pipes, resulting in burst pipes that require a plumber’s attention. Sometimes, smaller leaks can occur that go unchecked and can cause long-term damage.
Cooler weather also forces your water heater to work harder and longer than usual, to get water up to the desired temperature. If you overexert your unit, however, you could end up calling for water heater repair sooner than you’d like.
5 Signs Your Water Heater Isn’t Working
It is important to identify any potential damage during cold snaps and quickly repair it. These are five signs that your water heater requires maintenance or repairs:
A leak is the easiest, most obvious indicator something is wrong. The plumbing around your water heater will expand or contract in cold weather. Cracks in older units can lead to water leaking into your home. This could cause significant structural damage, as well as unsightly damp and mold growth.
High Energy Bills
Water heaters can work harder in colder weather, particularly if they are located outside or in unconditioned areas, such as the garage. A water heater repair could help to reduce your energy bills, especially if you notice bills are rising more than usual and you don’t seem to be getting meaningful performance from your hot water heater.
Heavy rust can indicate an impending leak, especially if it’s an old water heater. Sometimes, rust can transfer to the water itself and cause discolored water flow from your sinks and taps.
Water heaters are supposed to work quietly and efficiently. You may notice your heater making loud, banging or knocking sounds during operation. This could be due to a serious component failure that requires booking a water heater repair service, or it could simply be remediated by removing sediment build-up during an annual maintenance service. The only way to find out is to book a professional plumber to investigate the true cause.
Is your hot water tank running low? Is your water heater not heating up enough? Inefficient water heating can be a sign your heater needs repair or maintenance.
The weather doesn’t care if you have an electric unit or a gas one. Colder temperatures can cause a bundle of annoying symptoms to occur, regardless of heater type!
Hot showers are an integral part of many of our lives, especially during winter. It’s not surprising that San Antonio, TX homeowners are disappointed when their hot water runs out during winter. If frequent, it might be time to call for water heater repair or consider a larger capacity water heater.
To enjoy a relaxing shower in colder seasons, you will need to use more hot water. If your thermostat is faulty or not properly adjusted to compensate for cooler weather, you’ll likely find that your hot water heater isn’t getting up to temperature as it should.
Making temperature adjustments without experience can cause water to boil or pressure to build to dangerous levels inadvertently. It is a good idea to make an appointment with a licensed plumber to safely adjust your hot water heater and prevent a water heater repair caused by inexperienced hands.
Hot water can feel instantaneous during the summer months. Not so, in winter. Naturally, your hot water heats up faster in warm pipes. It’s natural that hot water takes longer to heat up in winter if there’s no pipe insulation in place.
Cold pipes and heaters can also build up sediment. The sediment can absorb heat from the water stored in the heater, reducing its temperature and providing less hot water capacity. This causes your hot water heater to go into overtime to meet demand.
Preventative maintenance is the key to preventing water heater repair in winter. Regular maintenance, such as general inspections, part replacement, and removing sediment will help preserve your water heater. Pipe insulation is another great maintenance tool that can be used to combat the cold. Contact bluefrog Plumbing + Drain + HVAC of San Antonio if you need help preserving your water heater.