When it comes to winter weather, residents in the greater Detroit area have seen it all. We’ve survived blizzards, Arctic blasts, and freezing fog. We’re also no strangers to the headaches that come with frigid weather – like frozen pipes, water line problems, and thermostat issues (to name a few).

Your water heater is another household appliance that you need to keep a closer eye on when temperatures plummet. It has to work harder than usual because it takes much longer for it to warm water that’s colder because of outdoor conditions.

If you need water heater repair services in Macomb County, call Stadler Plumbing & Heating. Our team of trusted and knowledgeable professionals has been serving residents throughout Detroit and neighboring towns for almost four decades. Call us today to schedule an appointment at 586-803-1200 or contact us online.

How Does a Water Heater Work?

When you turn on your faucet or shower, cold water from your plumbing system enters the water heater. Depending on what type of water heater you have (gas, electric, or tankless), the water is warmed up by a heat source below the tank. The heated water rises to the top of the tank, is pumped out to the faucet and, voilà, you have hot water! 

If you have a gas or electric water heater, unused water will remain in the tank where it’s kept heated (you can control the temperature with a thermostat). This allows you to have hot water on demand after that initial heating period. Most water heaters have a safety valve that prevents excessive buildup by releasing pressure when needed.

Are There Different Types of Water Heaters?

Different households have different needs, so there are several types of water heaters available to homeowners:

Gas Water Heater

You may have guessed from the name – a gas water heater is fueled by gas and has a burner that sits below the tank to warm the cold water.

  • Pro: If you experience a power outage during a storm, you can rest assured that you will still have access to hot water. 
  • Con: Anytime you introduce a gas-fueled appliance to your home, you have to take potential safety hazards such as a gas leak or carbon monoxide exposure into consideration

Electric Water Heater

Electric water heaters are very similar to their gas counterparts, except they rely on electricity to fuel the burner that heats water.

  • Pro: You don’t have to deal with the dangers associated with having gas in the home. You can go about your day without the threat of a gas or carbon monoxide leak.
  • Con: You may see an uptick in your energy expenses. Electric water heaters are often more expensive to operate compared to gas appliances, especially in areas where electricity rates are high.

Tankless Water Heaters

If you’re pressed for space or concerned about water waste, think about switching to a tankless water heater. Instead of a tank with a burner beneath, tankless units have a heat exchanger. Cold water is instantly warmed as it flows through the exchanger, but the trick is that it only heats up what you need. 

  • Pro: Tankless units are better for energy efficiency since they only heat water as needed. You can eliminate standby heat losses due to keeping a large volume of water hot in a storage tank.
  • Con: Some homeowners experience the “cold water sandwich” effect. This is when warm water suddenly gets cold before heating up again. It’s more common in electric tankless heaters.

Signs That Your Water Heater Is Failing

original infographic on signs of water heater issues

When a household appliance is faltering, it usually doesn’t do so suddenly or silently. If your water heater has an unexpected change in the way it functions or behaves, there may be a problem. Keep an eye out for the following signs:

  • The water heater is making new sounds like rumbling or popping. 
  • The water is discolored.
  • It takes too long for the water to get warm.
  • The water doesn’t stay hot for long.
  • You can’t produce hot water at all.
  • The water is scalding hot even when you turn it down.
  • The water has an odd smell.
  • If you have a gas heater, the pilot light doesn’t stay lit.
  • There is water collecting around the heater.
  • There are visible signs of new damage like rust.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How long does a water heater last?

A: On average, water heaters can last between 10 to 15 years. Tankless heaters can last a little longer, at nearly 20 years with proper maintenance.

Q: What size water heater do I need for my home?

A: Water heaters range in size from 20 gallons to more than 50 gallons. What size you need will be impacted by how many people live in your house, peak water usage, and the type of water heater you have. One of our licensed plumbers can help you determine the right size for your needs.

Q: How can I improve the efficiency of my water heater?

A: Minerals and sediment can gather at the bottom of the water heater tank after a while and that can prolong the heating process. Flush the tank periodically to remove buildup.

Q: How much does a water heater cost?

A: The cost of a water heater can vary based on the type and size needed. Call and speak to one of our customer representatives for more information.

Q: Can I install a water heater myself?

A: You should always turn to a professional plumber to install a water heater. An improperly installed water heater, especially a gas unit, is a major safety hazard. It’s also important to note that you may void your warranty if you don’t have it installed by a licensed professional.

When Your Water Heater Is on the Fritz, Call Stadler Plumbing & Heating

Hot water is an essential part of everyday life. Don’t let a problematic water heater slow you down…get in touch with Stadler Plumbing & Heating today! There isn’t anything more important to us than seeing our customers happy. Reach out to us online with any questions or give us a call at 586-803-1200 if you’re ready to schedule.