Why Doesn't Your Water Heater Work As Well In Winter?

You may have noticed that your hot water heater doesn't seem to work as well in winter. It's not your imagination: this is a problem that many people face when temperatures outside drop. Knowing how to avoid this problem can help you stay warmer during showers and baths in winter.

Why doesn't your water heater work as well in winter?

Many water heaters are positioned in parts of the house that are uninsulated, like the garage or the basement. These places can get very cold in winter. As the air temperature around the water heater drops, the water heater must work harder to do its job. In newer water heaters, this may make little difference in the performance of the unit. In older water heaters, this can have a noticeable impact on the temperature of the hot water in the house. If the water heater is very inefficient and the temperatures outside are very cold, the water in the house may start to feel less warm.

What can you do to prevent this problem?

There are many things that you can do to improve the performance of the water heater, including:

  • Insulate the unit. Purchase a water heater blanket for your water heater. This will help protect the tank from the cold air outside while locking in warmth from the heater at the same time.
  • Turn up the temperature on the hot water heater. Turning up the temperature on the hot water tank will prompt it to work harder to heat the water. If you choose to turn up the temperature on the unit, write a reminder in your calendar to turn the temperature back down when the warmer weather comes. Permanently leaving the temperature on a higher setting can cause the unit to burn out prematurely.
  • Have the hot water heater inspected by a plumber. Skilled plumbers can look at your heater and tell you whether or not repair service or replacement is necessary for better performance.
  • Drain the sediment from the bottom of the water heater. Over time, minerals can collect in the bottom of the hot water tank. These minerals can block the heating elements from the water in the tank, causing the tank to be inefficient.

What's the procedure to follow if you want to have the hot water tank drained?

To drain the sediment from the unit, start by turning off the power to the heater. Connect a hose to the spigot at the bottom of the tank and run the hose to a drain in your house. Turn off the cold water supply to the tank, then open a hot water faucet in the house to prevent a vacuum from forming. Open the spigot at the bottom of the tank and allow water to drain from the tank. The water may appear dirty at first. When the water runs clean, this means that the minerals have been drained from the bottom of the tank. Close the spigot at the bottom of the tank, turn off the hot water faucet and turn back on the cold water supply to the tank. When you're finished, restore power to the heater.

For more information about how to maintain your hot water heater in winter, talk to  plumber like those at Stephens Plumbing And Heating Inc.