4 Steps To Take When Your Water Heater Stops Working in Winter


By Dave Bangar

4 Steps To Take When Your Water Heater Stops Working in Winter

Reading Time: 3 minutes

How to Fix a Broken Water Heater On Your Own

When it’s the dead of winter, temperatures have dropped down below 0 degrees Celsius, and all you want is to take a long hot bath, a malfunctioning water heater can be a devastating situation to be in.

When this happens, your first instinct will probably be to call a plumber or HVAC technician. However, if you find yourself without a functioning water heater in the winter outside of regular business hours, you may need to take matters into your own hands until a professional can take a look.

In this article, we will provide step-by-step instructions for when your hot water tank breaks during the winter so you can avoid issues like leaks and frozen pipes.

The Risks of Having a Broken Water Heater in the Winter

Having a hot water tank break during the winter can pose significant risks and lead to costly damage to your home if left unaddressed.

This includes:

  • Loss of hot water – Without hot water, everyday tasks like bathing, washing dishes, and doing laundry won’t be possible, making life more uncomfortable and inconvenient.
  • Water damage – If your water heater is leaking water, it can damage your walls, floors, and nearby possessions and lead to mould growth.
  • Increased Energy Bills: A broken hot water tank has to work harder and use more energy to try and maintain a desirable temperature, resulting in higher energy bills.
  • Cold indoor temperatures – Some homes use hot water for radiant floor heating or as part of their central heating systems. A broken hot water tank can disrupt these heating systems, causing indoor temperatures to drop and increasing the risk of frozen pipes.

What to Do If Your Water Heater Breaks During the Winter

If you find yourself in a position where your water heater has stopped working during the winter, don’t panic. In many cases, the issue can easily be resolved without help from a plumber or HVAC specialist. Below, we have listed a few steps you can take to help troubleshoot the issue and hopefully resolve it quickly on your own.

Check the Power Supply

First, check to make sure that the water heater is receiving power. If your water heater is gas-powered, check the pilot light to make sure it is lit. If it isn’t lit, follow your tank’s manufacturer’s instructions for relighting the pilot light.

If you have an electric heater, ensure the thermostat is set correctly and check the circuit breaker. If the thermostat is glitching and isn’t set to at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit, try resetting it. If you suspect it’s a breaker issue, flip the breaker to reset it.

If your electric water heater still isn’t working after these steps, try restarting it by shutting the heater off, waiting a few minutes, and turning it back on again. If your hot water hasn’t returned after 30 minutes, contact an HVAC technician.

Check For Leaks

Quite often, when a water heater malfunctions, it can leak and cause serious water damage. Do a visual inspection around the area where your water heater is and look for any signs of leaks. If you notice that the tank is leaking, turn off the water supply immediately and call a plumber or HVAC specialist.

Check for Error Codes

If you have a newer water heater, it may have a digital display that will show an error code if the tank is malfunctioning. If you see an error code on the display, check your manual to find out what it means and troubleshoot accordingly.

Call a Plumber

If you are unable to get your water heater back up and running, we recommend contacting a licensed plumber or HVAC specialist to take a look. Water heaters can be complex systems, and attempting any major repairs on your own can be dangerous and may even void your warranties.

At My Plumber Kelowna, we have a team of trained plumbers and HVAC professionals who can determine what is causing your water heater to malfunction and make the appropriate repairs. If your water heater needs replacing, we can help with that too! We’ll use our expertise to help you choose the perfect water heating system for your home and lifestyle and even install it for you. 

Call us today at 250-601-0000 or fill out a form on our website and we will be in touch ASAP.

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