Avoid Getting Stuck Without Hot Water This Winter!

3 Signs the Water Heater Is Close To Failure

As winter approaches and the weather in south-central Texas turns from pleasantly brisk to chillingly cold, the importance of a working water heater is not lost on San Antonio homeowners. Sure, cold showers may be a popular and refreshing health hack, but most people probably don't want that to be their only option - especially in the colder months. Unfortunately, that's when most water heater breakdowns tend to occur. 

But the good news is that water heaters seldom fail without warning - the trick is to spot the signs before it's too late and the home is left without hot water. So this article will share a few of the most common signs that a hot water heater is going out!


Problems with Water Temperature

Water temperature issues are among the most obvious signs of water heater trouble. Such issues include temperature fluctuations, running out of hot water, or lacking hot water. Sometimes, the problem may be a faulty thermostat or broken heating element. The cost of replacing these parts varies, but if the unit is very old, it may be more cost-effective to replace the entire unit.

Another possibility is that the water heater is undersized or outdated and can't keep up with the household's hot water demands. This is surprisingly common in growing families or older homes with aging water heaters. If this is the case, the solution may be to upgrade to a larger hot water tank unit or install a tankless water heater that rapidly heats water on demand.


The Unit Is Leakingleaks

Another common sign of a failing water heater is evidence of leaks on or around the unit. A water heater leak often results from smaller issues, such as a loose connection, damaged/corroded pipe, or faulty valve (the temperature & pressure relief valve is a common culprit). Fortunately, these are relatively quick and easy fixes for a professional plumber.

But if the water heater's storage tank is leaking, that's a different story. This can occur if the tank has become cracked or corroded due to inadequate maintenance - failing to regularly flush sediment buildup or replace the anode rod (a corrosion prevention device inside the tank) are the two most common causes of such leaks. A leaking hot water tank generally cannot be repaired, so homeowners will likely have to replace the entire unit.

Old Age/Wear and Tear

In addition to the specific issues described above, it may also be time for a water heater replacement if the unit is very old or in constant need of repairs. Traditional water heaters have a life expectancy of about 10-15 years or 15-20 for tankless water heaters (depending on how well they've been maintained).

If the water heater is over 10 years old (or 15 for tankless) but gets annual professional service visits and is still functioning normally, there's probably nothing to worry about. But if it's getting into that age range and frequently requires repairs, it will probably make more financial sense to replace it rather than shelling out for repairs and parts every year - not to mention that such a unit is more likely to break down completely.

If homeowners notice any of these signs, they would do well to contact their plumber to diagnose the issue rather than trying to repair it themselves. Professional water heater technicians can pinpoint the exact cause and make expert recommendations on whether to repair or replace the unit. They can also work with the homeowners to determine what type and size of water heater to choose based on the household's specific needs - if it comes to that!

About A&A Plumbing

Since opening its doors in 2007, A&A Plumbing has quickly become one of San Antonio's most trusted and highly-rated plumbers. As a family-owned business focused on personal attention, unbeatable workmanship, and stellar customer service, they have been honored with ServiceTitan's "Titan of the Year" finalist award and a 5-star rating on Home Advisor. They offer competitive up-front pricing, financing, and a money-saving membership program, so don't hesitate to call A&A today for water heater repair in San Antonio, TX!

Step-by-Step Response To Unexpected Winter Weather

How To Repair Damage From Frozen Pipes

Winter storms are no laughing matter. Severe weather can wreak havoc on homes anywhere, and the costs of the damage can make the repair process miserable. A common issue with wintery weather is frozen pipes. Plumbers receive calls about the frozen messes left behind by winter storms regularly during the colder months of the year. 

But homeowners don’t always have to wait for a plumber to arrive to start fixing the problem. There are simple, basic protocols every homeowner should follow to address any wintery pipe problems.

Pipe Thawing Basics

If a pipe freezes, homeowners should call a plumber to address the situation fully. But, homeowners can do their part to find the frozen pipe and begin remedying the issue. 

  • Locate: The first step to assist the plumber will be to locate the suspicious pipe. Check for sinks that won’t turn on and frost or excessive condensation appearing on exposed pipes or walls. These are sure signs of a frozen pipe.
  • Prepare: First and foremost, turn off the water supply. The last thing anyone wants is a torrential wave of water pouring through a frozen pipe. Frozen pipes will need an outlet for the water as it begins to thaw. Homeowners should ensure the faucet to the corresponding sink or shower is turned on, regardless of if the water is coming out.
  • Thawing Techniques: Once the pipes and faucets are prepped, thawing can commence. There are a couple of tools that one can find in the home to use for thawing. Homeowners can try placing a space heater near the frozen pipe or place heated towels on the exposed areas of the pipe. Dedicated DIYers can set up shop by the pipe with a hairdryer to get at the frozen water, too. 
  • Thawing Don’ts: Thawing pipes can take time. It is not unheard of for the process to take an entire day. One should NEVER use an open flame to try and melt a frozen pipe. Open flames can damage pipes and set fire to homes. 

Burst Pipe Response Basics

When a frozen pipe hasn’t been caught in time, it will often burst. The result is an expensive and sometimes long repair process. Homeowners can lower the damage costs by following these steps.

  • Shut Off Water: The second a burst pipe is suspected, homeowners should shut off the water supply in the home. This will prevent any excessive flooding in the home.
  • Call a Plumber: Homeowners should contact an emergency plumber the moment the pipe bursts. Burst pipes can introduce sewage and hazardous materials into a home along with water, and plumbers are trained to handle those situations. 
  • Clean & Clear the Room: If water has started flooding a room, one should clean up as much as possible with sponges and towels to prevent water damage. They should also clear out any furniture, decorations, or belongings to assist the plumber and provide ample workspace. 

Professional plumbers should always take care of the repairs of a burst pipe. No one should try to fix the issue with a DIY solution, which can just make things worse.

Tips To Avoid Frozen Pipesletters

Homeowners can take some steps to prevent frozen pipes and pipe bursts. 

  • Trickle Water: Running a trickle of water through the pipes 24/7 may seem excessive, but it is one surefire way to prevent frozen pipes. A tiny trickle is enough to keep water from staying stagnant in pipes.
  • Insulate Exposed Pipes: Exposed pipes are more likely to freeze than those in walls surrounded by insulation. Exposed pipes can be insulated using foam pipe insulation. The insulation can be bought at a local hardware store. 
  • Leave the Heat On: Homeowners shouldn't let their thermostat drop below 55 degrees during the winter months, even if the home is vacant for a vacation or trip. Lower indoor temperatures are more prone to freezing and burst pipes. 

Following these simple steps can help solve frozen and burst pipe issues and prevent them from happening in the future.

About A & A Plumbing

At A & A Plumbing, the safety and comfort of our clients come first. The family-owned and operated business is built on taking care of San Antonio, TX. From expert technicians to top-of-the-line technology, the team at A & A Plumbing has the supplies and skills to handle any plumbing situation. Their team is ready to handle plumbing emergencies quickly and affordably. Call now for burst pipe services!