Can Water Heaters be Repaired?
It’s always there. It always gave you what you needed and wanted. How could it just quit without any warning? What are we talking about? The water heater, that appliance that sits in a closet, in the basement, or in the laundry room, quietly doing its job of heating the water… until now. Do you have to replace it, or can water heaters be repaired?
Wait a minute, are we saying that water heater repairs are possible? Most people think when a water heater isn’t working, replacement is the only option, but that isn’t true. Yes, sometimes, some water heater repairs are possible.
So, now you ask, “Should I repair or replace my water heater?”, and we’ll tell you that it all depends on what the problem is and the water heater age. If your water heater is 10 years old or more, and the water heater is not heating, yes, replacement is your best option. The average lifespan for a good water heater on a good water quality system is 8 to 12 years old. So, by 8 years old, water heater repair is futile.
Who do you call for water heater repair?
A plumber is the person you need to call for water heater repairs. Or, if you’re handy with basic tools, there are some water heater repairs you can do yourself. Like, some things you can do yourself when your water heater that isn’t heating the water. Here are 5 common issues and possible DIY fixes:
1. No Power
If you have an electric water heater, it could be a tripped circuit breaker or the circuit-style safety switch on the water heater thermostat. Check the plug from the water heater first, make sure it is securely plugged in, then check the circuit breaker and the safety switch.
For a gas-powered water heater, it could be the pilot is out or the gas is off. The pilot light can be relit after making sure there is gas getting to the water heater. If there is electric or gas power to the water heater, then you’ll need a professional water heater repair service, or it may be time to buy a new water heater.
This can be a little more challenging to determine because a thermostat isn’t as likely to fail. But this is something you can check yourself when your water heater quits heating water. Some water heaters have 1 thermostat and heating element, some have 2 thermostats and 2 heating elements.
If you have a single-element water heater and the thermostat or element goes out, there is no hot water. If you have the two-element type of water heater and the top thermostat and element go out, you won’t get any hot water.
There is a reset button on the outside of the water heater, the high-limit switch. If the water exceeds 180 degrees, it will shut off the water heater. If that is the case, then the thermostat needs to be replaced. Test this yourself by depressing that reset button. If it pops back out or shuts the electricity off by throwing a circuit breaker, it needs to be replaced.
For a water heater that is less than 8 to 10 years old, there are videos online that will walk you through the process of replacing the thermostat. Or you can call a professional plumber for a water heater repair job.
Are water heater elements universal? There are three types of water heater elements. Before starting a water heater repair, you should confirm with local codes which of the three types to get and if it should be 120 voltage or 240 voltage. The three types of water heater elements are:
- Bolt in
- Clamp in
- Screw in
3. Pilot Light
On a gas water heater, in addition to the gas being turned off or the pilot light going out, it could be the thermocouple. The thermocouple enables the pilot light to stay on, and the pilot light enables the thermocouple to keep hot. This generates a small electrical current that holds the gas valve open. When the pilot light goes out, that gas valve closes and prevents gas from getting to the burners that make the water hot. It is also a safety feature and keeps the gas from building up with no place to, like the pilot light.
If the thermocouple goes bad, it will turn the pilot light off. Sometimes the gas valve on the water heater goes out. Either of these is a simple replacement by following online videos, or you can call a plumber for water heater repair.
4. Temperature and Pressure-Relief Valve
The TPR (temperature and pressure-relief, is a safety feature on every water heater. Its job is to relieve any excess pressure from the water heater tank if the water temperature inside overheats. If this valve isn’t working, your water heater could explode. A leaking TPR valve is not to be ignored!
Replacing the TPR valve is a simple water heater repair, again, follow online video instructions or call for a water heater repair with a plumber. Experts recommend testing your TPR valve once a year to make sure it is in proper working order.
5. Water Pressure
A water heater will quit working when the water pressure is too low or non-existent. Sometimes, the water pressure can be an issue because the TPR valve opens when the pressure or water temperature is too high.
Another cause can be the main water supply if there isn’t a safety valve to the water connection. Or if your water supplier has a leak, either the city line or your well water line.
A quick water heater repair could be as simple as the water line fitting has come loose, which you can tighten yourself. Check the thermostat setting too, if it has been lowered too much, that will lower the water pressure.
6. Noisy Water Heater
If your water heater makes noises like crackling, gurgling, hissing, or sizzling this is typically from sediment build-up inside the tank. This can be prevented by flushing your water heater annually by draining the tank. If you haven’t ever flushed the tank, a water heater repair probably isn’t possible. But try flushing it, it may help, if not, a new water heater is needed.
Can you repair a leaking hot water heater?
A leaking water heater repair may be possible, depending on where it is leaking. If the tank is leaking from the top where water connections are, make sure they are tight. If they are, you can replace the connections. If the water heater is leaking from the drain valve located at the bottom of the water tank, this can be replaced too. If it is the tank itself leaking, this is not a water heater repair issue. You’ll need to replace the unit.
A Final Word
So, now if you’re wondering, “What water heater do I need?”, you should replace an electric water heater with an electric one and gas with gas. You can talk to a plumber about going with a tankless unit, which will require some changes to the water lines and the electrical and gas connections, making the installation more expensive. Or you can replace it with the tank-style water heater, using this as a guideline to the size you need:
- One-to-two-person household: 30-to-40-gallon size
- Two-to-three-person household: 40-to-50-gallon size
- Three-to-four-person household: 50-to-60-gallon size
- Five or more person household: 60-to-80-gallon size.
Regardless of what you decide to do, we can help you! If you need a plumber to help with water heater repair, give us a call at (770) 672-0095 today!