February 21, 2023
Water pressure, cold showers, frozen pipes – it must be winter
Every year, the Denver area is hit with winter storms that bring freezing temperatures. When exposed to these lower temperatures, water heaters work overtime to keep you and your family warm. To keep your house warm and your water flowing, here are some tips to beat the winter blues from Applewood Plumbing Heating & Electric.
When the water stops, we almost always turn to the water heater first. Before assuming there’s a problem with your water heater, check your pipes. Jaime Rodriguez, Master Plumber with Applewood Plumbing Heating & Electric notes any pipes with outside exposure are susceptible to freezing. Check where the pipes enter and leave the house as these areas are more likely to freeze. If these sections aren’t frozen, contact a licensed plumber to assess the problem.
If everything is fine with your pipes, check the water heater. Double-check to make sure that the heater is plugged in and the power is on. If the power has recently gone out for an extended period, your heater may have frozen due to lack of water movement. Also, how old is your water heater? According to Rodriguez, most water heaters last 10-12 years. He recommends having the water heater inspected annually as preventive maintenance. This reduces the risk of gas or water leaks, and the shut-off valve can be tested as well.
The pilot light of a gas water heater is vital. When this light is not lit, your water will remain cold. Pilot lights are often at the root of water heater issues. Do a visual check to see if your pilot light is out. Depending on the water heater, you may need to remove or open the door to view the burner chamber. If you see a flame, the pilot light is lit. If there is no flame, you should call a qualified technician. They can relight the pilot light and test for any potential leaks, and make sure the flame is burning correctly.
One of the best ways to preserve and protect your water heater and pipes is to insulate both. When temperatures drop, heat from the pipes dissipates, leaving your ready-to-access hot water not ready. Getting a fitted tank cover or using fiberglass insulation can be helpful to protect your heater. Likewise, heat tape can also help protect your pipes during frigid months.
Drain your Water Heater
Applewood recommends flushing sediment from your water heater annually. This can be done by a technician who can also check for gas and water leaks at the same time.
Maintain an Uninterrupted Power Source
It’s important to make sure your water heater is plugged in to ensure its freeze protection system can operate. If you live in an area that experiences frequent power outages, consider purchasing a battery backup in case of an emergency.
Low Water Pressure
Low water pressure is another problem that can occur during the winter months. This is when you turn on a faucet to discover the water pressure is much weaker than expected. Low water pressure can be a result of frozen pipes. If the pipes are frozen, this will significantly impact on the amount of water you are receiving, if any at all.
To check water pressure, run both cold and hot water through all the faucets and showerheads. If you only experience low water pressure with the hot water, the problem may be the result of a damaged water heater. It is possible that you may experience low water pressure in all the faucets or in just one. If the low pressure is in one area, the aerator or faucet may be clogged. If low water pressure is found in more than one location, this could be a failed pressure regulator. If the issue is not resolved, Applewood encourages you to contact your local municipality, who can test to be sure their water meters are working efficiently and that there isn’t an issue within the main system causing low water pressure.
Call a Professional
If there is a problem, reach out to a licensed plumber to survey the issue. A damaged water heater or frozen pipes can quickly mount into costly repairs for your home. Licensed plumbers are trained to use the proper tools, quickly assess potential causes and how to safely repair the issue.