Winter affects your home in several different ways. One thing that many people need to consider is the impact that cold weather has on their water heaters. With this in mind, here are some of the typical water heater issues that you may experience during the winter and how you can overcome them.
Water Never Gets Hot Enough
Even though your heating frequently runs during the winter, your pipes will always stay colder than in the summer. This can cause the water temperature to drop by around 10 degrees from when it leaves the water heater until it flows out of your faucet. Of course, if you’re using a lot of hot water at one time, the pipes will eventually warm up and begin to overcome this issue. Nonetheless, it is still common for your water to always feel warmer during the winter.
If you usually keep your unit set to 120 degrees, you will want to bump it to 130 degrees once winter sets in. This will help to overcome the heat loss from cold pipes and ensure that your water is always warm enough.
Longer Lag Time
Lag time is how long it takes from turning on your faucet or shower until hot water finally starts flowing out of the fixture. The fact that your pipes are colder in the winter means that you will always have a longer lag time, and this is true for both traditional and tankless units. Longer lag times also contribute to increased waste since you will need to let the water run for longer before it gets hot.
Unfortunately, there really isn’t much you can do about this issue. If it is something you’re concerned about, the only real option is to install a hot water recirculating system. These systems use a sensor that measures the temperature inside the hot water line at the fixture that is furthest away from the water heater. Whenever the temperature drops below a set limit, the sensor activates a pump that draws water from the water heater and circulates it throughout your pipes. This ensures that the water inside the lines is always hotter so that you have very little lag time.
Higher Energy Costs
The water that comes into your house will always be slightly colder during the winter than in the summer. It is common for the water temperature to drop by around 25 degrees during the winter, and this means that your water heater will have to work harder and run for longer to fully heat the water. As a result, your water heater will always use more energy during the winter and cost more to run.
This problem is most pronounced with a traditional water heater since this type of unit needs to reheat to keep the water inside its tank hot continuously. That being said, even tankless water heaters will usually use slightly more energy during the winter since the water coming into the unit is still colder.
The best way to minimize this effect is to have your water heater professionally maintained each fall. Maintenance will help to ensure that the unit is working as efficiently as possible and that it doesn’t have any issues that could impact its performance.
Another issue is that many water heaters are located in basements, attics, or other places that typically stay a lot colder than the rest of the home. The colder the temperature is around the water heater, the harder it will have to work and the more often it will need to run to reheat the water inside its tank. You can help to overcome this issue by making sure that your water heater is well insulated and also by wrapping your water lines in pipe insulation to help keep the pipes and the water inside them warmer.
Longer Recovery Times
Recovery time refers to how long it takes for a traditional water heater to reheat after you’ve used up all of the stored hot water. The fact the water coming into the tank is colder means that the recovery time will always be longer in the winter. Having the unit maintained can help to reduce the recovery time by ensuring that it is heating efficiently and effectively, but otherwise, there isn’t much else you can do about this issue. The only real option is to upgrade to a tankless water heater since these units instantly heat the water whenever needed instead of storing hot water in a tank.
If you need to have your water heater inspected, maintained, or repaired, Medcalf Heating & Cooling is here to help. We service and install all types of water heaters including traditional and tankless units. We also work on boilers, air conditioners, furnaces, refrigeration systems, ductwork, and indoor air quality equipment for both residential and commercial HVAC systems. Give us a call today if you need any water heater or HVAC service in the Terre Haute area.