Pro Plumber Tips: How to Solve Problems with Your Hot Water Heater
Out of sight, out of mind, you likely don’t think about your hot water heater very often. However, while it’s often overlooked, your hot water heater is most likely the appliance your household relies on the most. When it starts acting up, making strange sounds, leaking, or doing something out of the ordinary, these are signals that your reliable source of hot water could be in distress or at risk.
Our expert plumbers have heard our client's questions and concerns and have taken the time to put together the following list of tips on how to solve issues with your water heater. Read on to discover how to identify and solve problems that could lead to your water heating tank being unfit for duty.
Our Plumbers List of Common Hot Water Heater Problems
As experts in our field, our plumbers have encountered virtually every issue you could have with a hot water heating system of any make or model.
Some of the most common issues we encounter include:
- Problems with temperature pressure and relief valve
- Water pressure that is too high or too low
- Under and overheating
- Tank leaks
- Plumbing connection leaks
- Heating element issues
- Gasket failure
- Past the manufacturers recommended lifespan
- …and more
We know you're counting on a fully functional water heater to help keep your energy expenses reasonable. You're also probably looking forward to having a nice warm shower to start your day. Without addressing the above issues, your household could be at risk for all sorts of undesirable outcomes, including loss of hot water, mold, energy inefficiency, Legionella exposure, and more.
What steps can you take to address these problems? We're glad you asked.
Water Heater Repair
When your hot water heater is on the fritz, don’t immediately jump to replacement as the only option. Your heater can likely be repaired, so in an effort to save you time and money, we've taken the time to compile the following common water heater repairs:
Evaluating Valve Conditions
If your water heater emits strange noises like tapping, screeching, and knocking, there's a good chance the culprit is a valve that needs to be adjusted or replaced.
If a value issue is suspected, an experienced plumbing contractor would check the shut-off and water-line valves and inspect the tank for sediment buildup.
Adjusting Water Pressure for Water Heaters
Are you experiencing issues with water pressure in your shower or sink? There's no need to try and adapt to insufficient pressure or risk burst pipes with water pressure that’s too high.
We recommend checking your water tank to ensure that pressure valves are fully open. If these valves are open and working correctly, you can try locating your home's water pressure valve and adjusting it from there.
It is essential to use caution when doing this to avoid over-pressurizing your system, which can cause significant damage. Ideally, 45 psi is typically what you're aiming for. Water pressure should never be 60+ psi.
If adjusting water pressure doesn't make a difference, the problem could lie within your pipes. If you're handy, you could consider tackling the job of checking your pipes to ensure corrosion isn't the culprit for restricted water flow.
However, if you're not comfortable taking on these inspections, repairs, and adjustments on your own, a licensed plumber will be able to identify and resolve issues quickly.
Addressing Water Heater Temperature Problems
When facing water heater temperature problems, you should first check to ensure your tank isn't leaking. If no leaks are detected, you should check the unit's thermostat to ensure it hasn't been knocked to an undesirable setting accidentally. If water temperature doesn't respond to thermostat controls, your thermostat itself could be causing the issue, and replacing this component should solve the problem.
Suppose the issue isn't with your thermostat itself. In that case, we recommend inspecting your water heating elements to ensure there’s no sediment blocking its ability to produce sufficient heat and checking your temperature pressure valve to ensure it's set correctly.
Responding to Water Tank Leaks
You may only notice if your water tank leaks when you realize your shower isn't as warm and enjoyable as it used to be. A leak can be as minor as a few drops of water found leaking from connected pipes to as major as a pool of water lying beneath the unit.
The resolutions are simple if the problem results from loose values or improper plumbing connections. Tightening valves and correcting pipe connection issues are straightforward solutions that will stop water in its tracks.
However, you'll have more significant problems to deal with if the issue is found to be a result of a corroded tank. If this is the case, you'll need to replace your water heater as soon as possible.
Replacing Heating Elements
Over time, sediment buildup on heating elements within your water heater can cause this part of the unit to malfunction or burn out completely. You may notice that your water will only get to a lukewarm state or that the tank’s circuit breaker is regularly tripping.
In this case, the resolution is an affordable and easy fix, but it will require draining the entire tank to replace both the top and bottom elements.
Replacing Water Heater Gaskets
Faulty gaskets can lead to trouble with leaks and are relatively painless to fix once you've located the problem. The trick is to ensure you've purchased the right size and type of gasket for the job. An experienced plumber can assist you in finding exactly what you need to complete this type of repair.
Lifespan: When to Replace Your Water Heater
Did you know the average lifespan of a hot water heater is only 8 to 12 years? With that in mind, it's a good idea to check your tank to see when it was installed. Usually, there is a serial number located on your tank. Getting in touch with the manufacturer with this serial number should give you a good idea of the approximate age of your system.
Once a system reaches the end of its life, it's at risk of malfunction that could see your home exposed to issues with water damage and more.
When to Call an Emergency Plumber
There are many jobs you feel comfortable tackling around the house, but plumbing may not always be one of them. To ensure you remain out of harm's way, connect with an emergency plumber to help you troubleshoot complex challenges. Only you can determine your comfort level with do-it-yourself repairs versus professional plumbing services. However, we recommend erring on the side of caution to keep yourself and your home in the best shape possible.
Lion's Plumbing and Heating is a long-time plumbing solutions provider with a solid reputation for putting our clients first. Let us help you overcome any challenge by ensuring your home water heating system is up to par with current safety standards and expectations.
Reach us at (240) 793-0198 to reserve a risk-free consultation
Did this article help you narrow down the cause of your hot water woes? If so, we'd like to know which problem you faced and how you resolved it. Let us know in the comments section below!