Prevent cold-weather damage to your water heater

Arctic temperatures this winter could affect your plumbing in unexpected ways. You probably already know the dangers of frozen pipes, but frigid conditions can also cause problems where you least expect it: in your water heater. Cold temperatures can cause the metal to expand and contract, and if you have an older water heater kept in a cold or unheated location, leaks and cracks could be the result. Don't get stuck taking cold showers this winter; read on to find out how to prevent a breakdown before it occurs.

What Could Go Wrong? Not only does a leaky water heater not perform up to par, it could cause serious damage in other parts of your home depending on the placement and severity of the leak. If the leak goes unnoticed it could eventually result in significant water damage to your walls and floors. Make a point of checking under and around your water heater during winter months to make sure there's no water seep.

How Do I Prevent the Problem? Forewarned is forearmed. Rust in your water is one indicator that your heater might need attention. You can also visually inspect your water heater and look for any bending, bulging, cracks or imperfections in the metal tank and other components. If you’re unsure, have a professional plumber come make a check of the unit. Your plumber can determine if it’s in need of repairs that may help to extend its lifespan, or if it’s time to consider buying a new one.

What About Tankless Water Heaters? Tankless water heaters are becoming increasingly popular because they provide instant hot water to your faucets and save on energy costs. However, they do carry their own dangers in extremely cold temperatures, especially outdoor models. Most tankless heaters should have freeze protection, but if they are exposed to extreme cold, they need to be drained. Follow the manufacturer instructions to shut down your tankless heater and completely drain it of water so it doesn't freeze, which can damage the unit. A plumber can perform this task for you. 

Do I Need a New Water Heater? If your water heater is more than a decade old, replacing it may be more cost-effective than a repair. Some problems, like a leak coming from the tank itself, should not be fixed and mean it's time to go shopping. The good news is that high-efficiency water heaters like Energy Star-certified models can actually save you money in utility costs in the long run.

Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® is always here to help. Call local Benjamin Franklin® and one of our experienced professionals will examine your water heater, perform any necessary maintenance and ensure it's in safe working order.

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