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I know that pipes can freeze in the winter, but can the frigid temperatures also do damage to water heaters?

Yes. Cold temperatures can cause the metal on your water heater to expand and contract, potentially causing damage, and eventually leaks. This could happen more often if you have an older water heater or if the unit is placed in an unheated area of the home. However, there are other things that could factor in, such as how well your unit has been maintained and the overall quality of your water. For instance, the more sediment in your water, the harder your water heater will need to work.

Sometimes a leaky water heater goes unnoticed, which could result in damage to your walls and floors. Regular winter plumbing maintenance is important. Frequently check around and under your water heater to make sure there's no water leaking from the unit.

Can we do anything to prevent damage and leaks during the winter months?

You should inspect your water heater throughout the year, not just during the winter. Look for any bending, protruding or cracks in the metal tank and other components. You also can do some troubleshooting. Have you noticed the water taking an unusually long time to get hot? Or does the hot water supply run out too fast? This could be the beginning of a bigger issue.

Are there things we can do ourselves if we start to see problems with the water heater?

There are some possible fixes you could try, such as turning up your water heater’s thermostat, adding insulation or flushing your hot water tank. However, plumbing can be complicated. If you’re unsure what to do, call a professional plumber like Roto-Rooter to inspect the tank. Our service technicians can determine if a water heater repair or replacement is the best option.

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