Can Cold Weather Affect Your Hot Water Heater?

Can Cold Weather Affect Your Hot Water Heater?

Colder weather affects a home’s entire plumbing system, which can cause stress on your water heating system during the winter. When exposed to lower temperatures, your system is put under strain because it must work harder and longer to provide hot water for your home. So, you can avoid damage by understanding how cold weather affects your plumbing and the steps you can take to ensure it functions properly and prevent any heat loss or frozen pipes.

Cold Weather Can Cool or Freeze Your Water Pipes

The cold can negatively impact your pipes and fixtures when temperatures start to drop during that time of year. The water in your pipes and fixtures cools as winter weather becomes colder. It’s common for the temperature of the water running from the hot water heater to your faucets or showerheads to drop by 10 degrees. This happens because the cold temperatures also affect your plumbing fixture. For example, when turning on the kitchen or bathroom water faucets and it doesn’t seem hot enough, many homeowners assume it’s the fault of their water heater; however, it may be from the fixtures being cold.

When you’re unsure what’s causing the issues, we recommend calling Smedley Plumbing.

Other factors that cause your water heating system to work harder during the winter are as follows:

  • Your water heater is usually in the basement, garage, or closet. These areas of your home are generally cooler than the rest of your home, causing your system to cool down and forcing the system to work harder when heating water for your household.
  • Because of the lower temperatures outside, water delivered to the system during the winter months is colder than usual. So, unfortunately, your water heating system will have to work harder to reach the temperature you desire.

During the colder months, your family’s need for hot water increases, which can cause stress to the system, making it work harder and longer to meet your household requirements.

Types of Water Heating Systems

Before learning how cold weather can affect hot water heating systems, it helps to know the different kinds of water heating systems and how they work.

  • Electric water heater: Electric water heaters run on electricity to heat up the water. All homes have electricity, so this would be an easier installation to have in your home. An electric water heater heats water efficiently, is safer than gas, and never needs relighting because there isn’t a pilot light. Electric water heaters due have higher operating costs and will not operate during power outages.
  • Gas water heater: Gas water heaters run off of municipal gas, which not every home has, and may need a gas line installed if they want to go this route. Gas water heaters heat water quickly and are energy efficient, and operate during power outages. However, gas water heaters are less safe than electric models, have a shorter lifespan, and require relighting sometimes.

Tankless water heater: A tankless water heater, otherwise known as an on-demand water heater, doesn’t store water in a tank. The water is heated as it passes through the unit. They can run on electricity, natural gas, or propane.

How Does Cold Weather Affect My Water Heating System?

When your home’s water heating system struggles to meet your family’s hot water needs, it can cause additional wear and tear. Excessive strain frequently results in system problems, necessitating repairs and even failure of your water supply system.

Additionally, it is common to significantly increase your energy and water bills because your system uses more energy when heating your water.


Can Cold Weather Affect Your Hot Water Heater?

Warning Signs Your Water Heating System Needs Maintenance

The simple fact is that no one wants to be without a functioning water heating system. So, it’s a good idea to understand the warning signs of a potential system failure. Ignoring even minor issues with your system can lead to a significant breakdown later. Avoid a breakdown and schedule water heater repair services as soon as you experience these common water heater problems.

The following are warning signs that your water heating system requires repair:

  • A significant increase in your energy bills
  • You notice rust forming on your hot water heater
  • Water is leaking from your system
  • The water temperature in your home fluctuates
  • Loud knocking or banging sounds from your water heating system
  • Your water takes longer to warm up.

Your water temperature does not get as hot as it should

Tips to Avoid a Damaged Water Heating System

Below is a list of tasks you can do to prepare your home for cold weather to help prevent the need for repairs or replacement of your water heating system.

  • Increase the setting on your system’s thermostat
  • Consider switching to a tankless system
  • Schedule professional maintenance
  • Insulate the pipes in your home
  • Replace worn-out faucet aerators and showerheads
  • Use cold water to wash your clothes.
  • Unless the dishwasher is full, avoid running it.


Can Cold Weather Affect Your Hot Water Heater?

Smedley plumbing is your one-stop-shop for all your plumbing needs, with over 20 years of experience mastering the plumbing trade. If your water heating system is experiencing problems due to the cold, don’t hesitate to contact us. A master plumber from Smedly Plumbing will carefully inspect your system and take temperature readings on the fixtures throughout your home. We will identify the problem and present you with our findings, providing you with the best solutions to implement.

Preventative Maintenance

Water heater maintenance is often overlooked. But did you know that regular maintenance can extend the life of your system? You don’t want to be caught off guard by a problem. Preventative maintenance is the best way to avoid a breakdown or a costly fee for replacement, especially when a professional plumber performs the maintenance. Here are some maintenance tips to help you get the most out of your water heating system.

Inspect the TPR Valve

The TPR valve, also known as the temperature-pressure release valve, aids in the removal of water from the water tank if the pressure becomes too high. We recommend checking your TPR valve regularly as part of your regular maintenance. You can check the TPR valve by lifting the tab to drain some of the water, then letting go. If the water flow continues, it’s time to replace the valve.

Examine for Sediment

Sediment, particularly calcium, and rust, is the leading cause of your water heating system failure. Be sure to check for sediment buildup regularly to extend the life of your system. In addition, examine the tank’s exterior and components and replace any parts that show corrosion damage.

Drain and refill the tank

Drain the tank to flush out any sediment buildup as part of your maintenance. We recommend draining your tank at least once a year to prevent sediment buildup inside the tank, which will help your system last longer.

Can Cold Weather Affect Your Hot Water Heater?

Examine the Temperature Gauge

Regular maintenance should include checking the temperature gauge. Your water temperature should never exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit for safety purposes. Aside from safety concerns, lowering the temperature can help you save money on your utility bills. You can expect to save 5% on energy costs for every 10 degrees you lower the temperature.


To protect your system, insulate your plumbing. When the cold weather moves in, your system has to work harder to stabilize the temperature. You can help it by performing regular maintenance and ensuring that your plumbing is properly insulated.

Master Plumbing Services

Having a licensed plumber service your water heating system is always the best bet. Regular maintenance performed by plumbing experts helps your system last longer and saves you money in the long run. So schedule your water heater services right away!

As a plumbing industry leader, Smedley Plumbing uses high-performance equipment and technology to keep your home as comfortable as possible and solve any of your plumbing issues. As a family-owned business, we understand the value of a well-functioning plumbing system. So we give you the Smedley guarantee to provide superior service and a promise to go above and beyond to ensure your family’s hot water needs are met. Contact us to learn more about how we can help.