Happy New Year! It feels like yesterday we were wiping sweat from our foreheads, yet here we are in the chill of January again. This time of year we always have an increase in customers looking for advice and supplies to fix their hot water heaters. It’s no surprise that our water usage goes up in the winter months. We are spending more time indoors, we have more guests, and we want those hot showers to last forever. We need our hot water heater to work.
Why do our hot water heaters always seem to fail us during the winter months? There may be several reasons for this. It could be the water heater hasn’t been working properly for months, but we didn’t notice it because we weren’t using as much hot water. The water coming out of the ground is a lot colder now which requires our water heaters to work harder because the starting temperature is much lower. Symptoms of hot water heater problems could be higher utility bills, taking longer to get hot water, running out of hot water faster than usual, and a noisy water heater.
An electric water heater has several parts that can fail over time. The most common culprit is a failed heating element. An electric heater has two different elements, one at the top of the tank and one at the bottom. If you notice that you’re running out of hot water faster than you used to or you have much less hot water than usual, it’s probably the lower element that needs replacing. If you don’t have any hot water or the water doesn’t get as hot as the setting on your thermostat, it’s probably the upper. Before you attempt anything on your water heater, always turn off both the water and electricity before you start.
The thermostat on the water heater can also cause some of these same problems. It can also be at fault if your water becomes too hot, resulting in rather painful showers or even serious burns. A faulty thermostat can also trip the high-limit switch. Testing your thermostat is easy with a screwdriver and multimeter.
Another very common problem is sediment in the tank. Excessive sediment can cause a lot of damage like leaking water, heating elements failing, noisy heaters, and can definitely shorten the lifespan of your water heater. You can easily prevent all this from happening by flushing your heater roughly once a year.
All of these problems are ones that you can easily handle yourself. If you have any questions or aren’t sure how to take on a task like this, remember that at Randy’s, we don’t mind your questions. We don’t mind them at all! I do have one question for you though. Shouldn’t hot water heaters be called cold water heaters instead?