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Welcome to the Campeau Heating Blog!

Looking for professional heating, cooling and air quality advice? Our experts share helpful news, tips and tricks every other week! 
Advice from the Professionals
January 2023

My Water Heater Broke Down In The Middle Of Winter! What Now?

Cold water due to broken Superflue Water Heater.

My Water Heater Broke Down In The Middle Of Winter! What Now?

A broken water heater in January? That could mean no hot water in your shower, taps or washing machine! 

That sounds like a frigid disaster! Not to mention highly inconvenient for your household. 

After all, nobody wants a cold shower in the middle of winter! 

If this is your current situation, keep reading for your next steps. While calling a professional might be necessary, the problem may be less serious than you think.

It could even be something you can fix on your own!

But before you start tinkering away, you’ll need to diagnose the water heater problem. We’ve listed some of the top issues below so you can troubleshoot your system properly.

Please note: this article focuses on gas and electric storage water heater issues. Are you looking for information about a broken tankless water heater? Call our technicians!


First Things First, Diagnosing The Water Heater Problem 

Now, before we go into the less serious issues, let us preface this conversation with this: 

If your hot water heater is leaking, that is a sure sign to call a technician and take immediate action.

A leak can cause water damage in your basement and even a potential explosion. So if you notice even the tiniest leak, here’s what you should do: 

Emergency Next Steps

  1. Turn off the power to your tank
  2. Turn off the cold water supply to the tank.
  3. Take a picture of the situation (you’ll need this to make an insurance claim).
  4. Drain the water.
  5. Call your HVAC technician.

Click here for more non-DIY-related water heater issues. 

If, however, your water heater only has a minor issue, there are lots of quick, DIY fixes that you can do! 

Below are some common water heater issues. Click the one you’re experiencing to find out how to fix it yourself!


DIY Hot Water Heater Repairs!

Many hot water heater problems are actually easy to troubleshoot and fix on your own. If you’re lucky, you can get your water heater back up and running in about 5 minutes! 

Below are the three top water heater issues and an easy DIY solution for each.

Need support? Please don’t hesitate to give us a shout! Our Campeau Heating team can help troubleshoot the issue and provide a solution fast.


No Hot Water

Many homeowners make urgent no-hot-water calls as soon as possible. 

And no wonder! A chilly shower on a cold winter day is the last thing anyone wants to experience.

But before you make a call, you may want to do some troubleshooting of your own. The problem could be simpler than you think!

If you don’t have any hot water, there are a few possible reasons why: 

  1. Your water heater may not have power. 
  2. One of the heating elements could have failed.
  3. The limit switch may have tripped.

How To Fix It:

To fix your water heater, the first thing you’ll want to do is ensure it’s connected to power. 

Then, check for a tripped breaker. If it has tripped, switch it off and back on again. 

If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to reset the high-temperature limit on the heater. Your unit’s instruction manual should have directions for this step. But if not, give us a quick call! We can walk you through the process over the phone. 


Not Enough Hot Water

Is your hot water running out too fast? This issue is typically easy to diagnose, being one of two possibilities: 

  1. Your unit isn’t big enough for your household. It can’t keep up with the demand!

This is a common problem for large families. Even a family of two may require a larger tank, depending on how much hot water they use during the day. 

  1. One or both heating elements on your unit may have failed. 

If your water is typically more lukewarm than hot, you may have a defective upper heating element. 

If you run out of hot water too fast, you may have a defective lower heating element. 

How To Fix It:

If your tank is too small for your home, there’s an easy solution. However, it may be costly. An inadequately sized tank means you’ll need to

a) Buy a larger tank or 

b) Switch to a tankless unit.

If one or both of your heating elements has failed, call your HVAC technician for a repair. They’ll have the equipment and parts necessary to repair the unit. 

But wait! Before you call, we recommend checking your unit’s warranty. Your warranty may cover the repairs/replacement parts for your specific issue.


The Water Is Too Hot

It seems odd to complain about water being too hot if the alternative problem is no heat at all. But regardless, this is another issue you may experience with a broken water heater. 

And thankfully, fixing it is easy!

Water that’s too hot is typically a telltale sign that your heater’s thermostat is too high. 

How To Fix It:

Before you check the thermostat, turn off the heater’s circuit breaker. 

Next, remove the access panel, insulation and plastic safety guard from the heating elements. Using a non-contact voltage tester, you can safely confirm the power is off. Don’t touch the wires or terminals until you’re 100% sure! 

Next, check the thermostat settings on both heating elements. It should be around 120 degrees Fahrenheit. 

If you need to adjust this setting, remember to keep both the same!

Then replace all parts and return power to your unit. 

Note: We totally understand if dealing with your unit's electrical components is nerve-wracking. Just give us a call! We can quickly send a technician to reset your thermostats. 


Water Heater Issues That Need a Professional

AKA don’t try to fix these ones on your own! They present a more dangerous situation for you, your home and your family. 

A leaking pressure relief valve. 

As mentioned above, a leaky hot water tank is dangerous. And a leaking pressure relief valve is equally so. 

A leaky pressure relief valve means there's too much heat and pressure in the tank - leading to a potential explosion!

Follow our emergency next steps outlined above when handling this issue.

Rotten egg smell. 

We’ve talked about the dangers of a rotten egg smell before when breaking down the top 10 furnace warning signs. 

If you read that article, you’ll know that the smell of rotten eggs is actually the smell of mercaptan. It’s a chemical added to natural gas as a safety precaution. 

Homeowners should know that if they begin to smell mercaptan, they should

  1. Turn off the gas immediately (but don’t touch anything that could be the source of the ignition).
  2. Evacuate your home with your family and pets. Keep a safe distance from the house!
  3.  Call 911 or your gas provider's 24-hour emergency line immediately.

Popping or knocking noises.

Are you hearing a popping or knocking noise coming from your water heater? If so, it could be on the verge of breaking down. 

That popping noise is water trapped under sediment buildup. If you catch it early enough, calling a technician could save your system! Your technician can remove the buildup and prevent further damage to your unit. 

Faulty installations.

If your water heater is improperly installed, it could become dangerous. 

For example, if you have a gas water heater with poor gas connections, there’s a high risk of an explosion. 

If you have an electric heater, water corrosion can cause your system to short circuit.

If you have a faulty installation, contact your HVAC technician immediately for further assistance. 


Need a New Unit? Consider our Superflue Water Heater!

Trying to choose the best water heater for your home?

Shop The Superflue Water Heater 

Is your unit beyond repair, over 10 years old or too small for your household? These are all sure signs that it’s time to invest in a new system!

Consider the Superflue Water Heater! 

This water heater has a built-in blower that allows through-the-wall or through-the-roof venting up to 50 feet outdoors! It’s also gas-powered, designed with an ultra-quiet blower and incredibly safe.

The flammable vapour ignition-resistant safety feature provides more protection and peace of mind!


Schedule Your Water Heater Tune-Up-, Installation or Repair With Campeau Heating

At Campeau Heating, our dedicated technicians ensure your safety, comfort and convenience. 

Whether you need a seasonal tune-up, a quick repair or a new unit installation, we’re there for you!

Book a service call with our team today or contact our office at 705-560-2441! We’re happy to help troubleshoot the issue over the phone.

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Winter Power Outage in Sudbury, Ontario? Here's How To Prepare Your Home!

Family experiencing a power outage in Sudbury Ontario.

Winter Power Outage in Sudbury, Ontario? Here's How To Prepare Your Home!

Power outages in Northern Ontario are not unusual. They can occur in every season and typically do so at the most inopportune times.

Winter power outages are just one example!

If you’ve experienced a winter power outage in Sudbury, Ontario, then you know exactly what we’re talking about.

Winter blizzards with high winds and heavy snowfall are the perfect recipe for a blackout. And while we may see it coming, nobody knows precisely when or if the lights will go out.

That’s why it’s crucial to prepare yourself, your family and your home BEFORE an outage.

Does your home rely on the power grid? If so, you’re vulnerable to a power outage's unpredictable and lasting effects. Whether it’s 2 hours or 5 days, power is at the mercy of your local grid team.

That’s why it’s also important to know what you should do DURING an outage! You never know when power might return.

There are many ways to reserve your home’s heat, protect your electronics and ensure your family’s safety while your power is out and AFTER!

This article shares all the winter power outage tips you need to protect your home - before, during and after!


Why Is It Important To Prepare For a Power Outage in Sudbury, Ontario?

As mentioned, power outages are a pretty common occurrence in Ontario. In 2017 alone, there were 177 reported outages in Ontario!

We receive frequent alerts for severe wind, snow and rain storms. And many of those forecast warnings also come with a potential outage advisory.

In fact, many Canadians experienced a severe winter storm right before Christmas. This particular storm left 78,000 households without power!

Many homeowners had to celebrate the season with candlelight and wood-burning fireplaces.

And while many families happily embraced the change of plans, others struggled to learn how to keep their homes warm in such low temperatures.

Dangerous Effects of Power Outages For Homes:

  • No heat (if your system relies on electrical power)
  • No water
  • No lights
  • No refrigeration
  • Electrical damage to devices, appliances and systems.
  • Disconnected at-home medical equipment.

Without power, we must learn how to function as safely and proactively as we can.


How To Prepare Your Home For A Power Outage BEFORE It Occurs

You can never be too prepared when it comes to power outages. Follow these steps below to ensure you’re ready for whatever mother nature throws at you!

Pack An Emergency Kit

The first step in preparing for a power outage is packing an emergency kit. This kit should sustain you and your family for at least 72 hours (three days).

Here are some items to include in your kit:

  • Water
  • Non-perishable food
  • Sleeping bags
  • Toilet paper
  • First aid kit

Check out the City of Greater Sudbury Emergency Kit for a complete list.

Winterize Your Home

Next, prepare your home for the winter season. We call this winterizing!

Each of these steps helps ensure and conserve safe home heating!

Install a Gas Fireplace or Other Non-Electric Heating Unit

If you rely solely on electric heating, your home becomes increasingly vulnerable during a power outage. Essentially, without electricity, you have no heat!

No heat can cause the following damages to your home:

  • Frozen pipes
  • Mould growth
  • Damaged belongings (guitars, pianos, books etc.)
  • Damaged materials (wood flooring, furniture, wallpaper etc.)
  • Cracked boilers or radiators
  • Damaged refrigerant-running appliances

One way to ensure your home has a dependable heat source is by installing a gas fireplace or other non-electric heating units.

Examples include a propane fireplace, a wood-burning furnace or a gas space heater.

Install a Backup Generator

Another way to ensure your home is not left without heat is to invest in a reliable backup generator. Backup generators can power large home appliances - including your home heating system!

Our Campeau Heating team supplies our local homeowners with Kohler generators!

Designed for harsh winters, Kohler generators are the perfect solution for a winter power outage in Sudbury, Ontario.

The cool thing about a whole-home backup generator is its automatic transfer switch (ATS). It allows the generator to automatically turn on during a power failure or brownout.

This means you’re only left in the dark for 10 seconds at most!

Below are some appliances that a whole-home backup generator can power:

  • Furnace Blower
  • Well Pump
  • Sump Pump
  • Refrigerator
  • Freezer
  • Lights
  • 1000 Watt Microwave

Note: Your generator’s capacity may differ according to the electrical requirements of your home appliances.

Turn Up The Heat If You Expect a Power Outage

If you do not have a backup generator, make sure you turn the heat up at the first sign of trouble!

We recommend turning up the heat if you know a winter storm is coming. This can help keep your home warmer for longer!


What To Do DURING a Power Outage

A winter power outage in Sudbury, Ontario, means your home could lose heat very quickly. As mentioned, this puts your family, plumbing, home, and appliances at risk!

You also don’t know how long the power will remain out! This means you have to protect your home from an unpredictable power surge as well. 

Conserve As Much Heat As You Can

The first thing to do when the power goes out is to conserve as much heat as possible.

If you don’t have a backup generator or non-electric heat source, your best bet is to prevent heat from escaping.

Here are some tips for conserving heat:

  • Keep external windows and doors closed
  • Close all interior doors.
  • Block drafts from windows and doorways.
  • Let sunshine heat your home.

Turn Off Your Thermostat and Unplug All Electronics

Once power returns, the initial surge rushing to your home can damage electronics.

A power surge can also cause equal damage to your heating system if the thermostat is on!

To prevent this, we recommend unplugging and/or turning off all electrical devices - including your thermostat!


What To Do AFTER Power Returns

Once power returns, you’ll want to carefully reconnect it to your home. Keep in mind that you should unplug ALL your devices BEFORE power returns.

Don’t Rush To Plug Everything Back In

As mentioned before, once power returns, it can happen very quickly. This puts your electronics in the direct path of a power surge!

This sudden influx of energy can damage or even destroy your electronic devices.

Wait till the power surge has a chance to stabilize before plugging everything back in - about 10-15 minutes.

Reset and Re-Power Your Electronic Devices

Once it’s safe, reset and re-power your electronic devices. This includes your heating system, refrigerator, freezer, oven etc.

Don’t forget to reset and reprogram your thermostat as well!

Inspect Your Heating System

The last step is to inspect your heating system. Ensure it functions well and wasn’t damaged during the outage.

Please note that this step may require a professional! 

Contact our Campeau Heating team for Sudbury furnace repair or maintenance. You can reach us at 705-560-2441 or schedule an appointment online.

For more safety information regarding a power outage in Sudbury, visit the Sudbury Hydro Outage Safety Guide.

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