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What Kills Old Water Heaters in the Winter?

Published on January 24th, 2018

Water heaters

Repeated expanding and contracting claims the lives of many old water heaters in January in February. How’s your water heater holding up this winter?

It’s unbelievable but true! Old water heaters give out in droves during the winter, especially in January and February. How’s your old water heater faring? Has it gone kaput this month?

Last week we talked about a common problem in the winter, freezing pipes and how to prevent them. Let’s address the reasons for the huge uptick in the demise of old water heaters in January and February. This significant increase in water heater replacements warrants proper attention.

Why Do Old Water Heaters Die by the Droves in January and February?

Whether your water is supplied by well or water tower, there’s still a pipe that’s eight feet down in the earth that delivers it to your house. During the summertime that water comes in at 55 to 60 degrees. But during the dead of winter, once the ground freezes, the temperature of that water coming in can be as low as 40 degrees.

Picture this. The flame underneath the water heater is on heating the water. Colder water is coming in on the other side of the water heater. Your old tank, which is weak or compromised because of its age, expands and contracts. This repeated expanding and contracting caused by extreme differences in temperature are hard on an old tank. A water heater can only take so much of that before it goes KAPUT!

Troubleshooting Problems with Old Water Heaters

If you wake up and discover there is no hot water at the ready, check the condition of your water heater pipes first, ASAP.

In most cases, a pipe leading in or out of the water heater is the problem, not the heater itself. If a pipe going in or out of the water heater is exposed to a wintery draft, the pipe could freeze. Sometimes lines carrying heated water freeze before lines carrying cold water, even when they’re running right alongside each other. This is known as the Mpemba Effect.

When troubleshooting the cause, trace the pipes in and out of the water heater until you locate the freeze. Once you locate the problem, take action. Follow the 4 steps outlined in How Can You Prevent Freezing Pipes and Costly Damage to avoid costly damage.

Once the pipes have been thawed, check to make sure that there are no other ruptured and/or leaking pipes. Then take steps to ensure that the pipes will not freeze again.

Remember, the reason folks experience a lack of hot water isn’t that their old water heaters died. In most cases, a pipe leading in or out of the water heater is frozen. And frozen pipes are something you want to avoid at any cost. If you experience a lack of hot water and discover a ruptured pipe, call Blue Frost Heating & Cooling at (630) 761-9007 today.

But if the cause for the lack of hot water is due to a tired old water heater tank that just couldn’t take it anymore, call us for the purchase and installation of a new water heater today.

For plumbing emergencies after hours or on weekends, you can reach Blue Frost Heating & Cooling at (630) 326-6400.

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