As the weather turns colder, the change in temperature in not only the air but also the ground water may cause problems for your water heater (yes, even in California!). One big issue that people see during the winter months is running out of hot water sooner than normal. That is typically a result of the water entering the water heater being colder than in the summer months. Colder water means that the water heater may take longer to get the water up to the desired temperature. This may also affect the recovery rate of the water heater after all the hot water has been used up.
The first step to solving this problem is to turn up the thermostat on your water heater. Typically, the thermostat is set at 120F by the manufacturer; however, that may not be hot enough during the winter time. It is recommended that you only turn up your thermostat a little at a time, if at all possible. Once you have turned up the thermostat, check the temperature at a faucet that is farthest from the water heater. When turning up the temperature setting on your water heater, do not go above 140F as anything above that could be dangerous and lead to scalding.
Another recommendation is to make sure the pipes are insulated at the water heater. Whenever we do an installation, we always make sure to insulate both the hot and cold lines going into and out of the water heater. It’s also a good idea to insulate the pipes running underneath the home as well. Since hot water sometimes has to travel a good distance through those pipes, the colder air temperature of winter can cool the hot water down considerably, so insulation is often a good idea.
One other possible remedy concerns water heaters located in outside closets or even garages. While it’s impossible to keep the air in those areas from being cold, you can at least make sure that any drafts or leaks are stopped so at least the ambient air around the water heater doesn’t drop any more than necessary. It used to be that people would wrap their water heater with an insulation blanket, but today’s water heaters are already insulated due to the higher efficiency standards that manufacturers are now using.
Finally, no matter what you do, your water heater will work just a little harder during the winter months and this can put a strain on an older water heater, so it’s a good idea to know the age of your water heater. You can find that out by looking at the rating plate on your water heater and getting the serial number. That will tell you the age of the water heater, though each manufacturer has a different system so give us a call if you need any help deciphering the age from the serial number. If you would like, you check out our blog on ratings plates for more information as well: https://waterheaters-sandiego.com/water-heater-rating-plates-importance/. You can call us at 925-945-6619 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and we will be happy to help in any way we can including setting up an appointment to have one of our technicians come out to make sure your there are no obvious issues with your water heater and check the age of the water heater as well.