What is the most common problem with water heaters?

close-up of a hose being attached to a water heater

The water heater was invented somewhere between 1868 and 1889, it depends on who you ask. But like most things we take for granted today, the water heater wasn’t available to every until the 1940s. Today, we take the water heater for granted and when it isn’t working, we don’t hesitate to have a water heater repair or replacement – same day if possible! 

For something that we don’t display in the living room or carry with us to show off, it is an invaluable part of our homes today. There probably isn’t a day that goes by that you don’t depend on your water being heated for something. From bathing to cooking to doing laundry, we need a water heater in our home. Many people don’t realize that a water heater can be repaired. 

Can you repair a water heater?

Sometimes, yes, water heater repairs are possible. It will depend on the problem and the age of the water heater. In many cases, a professional plumber can replace certain parts and get a few more years from a water heater. 

When is water heater repair an emergency?

A water heater leaking gas is a definite emergency. You should shut the gas off to the water heater and call a plumber immediately for water heater repair. 

A water heater leaking water from the water line and valve is typically not an emergency if you can tighten the connection. If you cannot tighten the connection or the water heater is leaking from the tank, that would be considered a water heater repair emergency. 

What are the signs of a water heater going bad?

 The more you know about the parts in a water heater, the better you’ll be able to diagnose problems. You’ll also know whether you can fix the matter yourself or if you need somebody that know how to fix a broken water heater, aka, a professional plumber. The following are signs that your water is going out and which is the better option – water heater repair or replacement. 

Water Leaking

This is the most common water heater problem because at some point, they all will begin to have a water leak. Why? Because they are made of metal and water is not friends with metal. It causes them to corrode and rust, develop fractures and microscopic cracks in the tank. 

However, the tank isn’t the only part of a water heater that can begin leaking water. Water leaking from the top of the tank could be that the water connections need tightening. Check the cold-water inlet pipes and hot water outlet pipes are solidly connected and aren’t loose or rattling. 

If water is leaking at the bottom, it is probably condensation, and that water repair is done simply by turning the thermostat up. Water that is spilling out of the overflow pipe or PRV (pressure relief valve), a water heater repair is possible. 

No Hot Water

“Why is my water heater not getting hot?” This is a common complaint that plumbers are called to fix. If the tank appears to be full of water but isn’t getting hot, checking the power source should be the first step. An electric water heater could have a thrown breaker and a gas water heater may be a pilot light problem. Both are water heater repairs you can do yourself. If the breaker isn’t thrown or the pilot light won’t stay lit, you need to call a professional plumber. 

Strange Odor in the Water

If there is a strange odor coming from the hot water, it is probably a bacterium building up, and turning the thermostat up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit will usually kill it. Never use the water when it is at 140 degrees, it can scald the skin. Wait an hour or longer and let that heated water kill the bacteria then turn the thermostat down and wait 4 to 6 hours before using it. If this didn’t get rid of the odor, you need to call a plumber for a professional water heater repair service.

Taking Too Long to Reheat

If your water heater is starting to take longer and longer to heat the water, try moving the thermostat up higher. If that doesn’t help, it could be either a dirty burner orifice or dirt vent flue that isn’t letting the gas flow. Simply clean these two parts and you’ll have a water repair done! If that doesn’t fix the problem, you may need to replace your water heater with a larger capacity. 

Low Hot Water Pressure

A common problem in older homes is the water pressure because the plumbing pipes installed were ½” size and today the standard is ¾” size plumbing. The allows a greater water throughput, and the only water heater repair that will fix that problem is replumbing the entire house. 

In newer homes, a water heater repair for this problem is to check the sink aerators aren’t clogged. The water inlet valve can be accidentally closed may be the problem. 

Too Hot or Too Cold

If your water heater has inconsistent water temperature and you’ve moved the thermostat with no success, it could be the thermostat is going out. A water heater repair for this problem is to clean or replace the thermocouple. 

What is the average life of a water heater?

A water heater can last between 8 to 12 years on average. The brand and quality of the water heater are a factor, the quality of the water where you live is a bigger factor, and if you follow routine maintenance of flushing the tank periodically will factor into the lifespan. If you need water heater repairs by the 8th year, replacing it is recommended. 

water heating in a storage room

In Closing – Who do you call to repair a water heater?

A professional plumber is the person to call for any water heater repairs or replacement. If you don’t a plumber you use, you can find several with an internet search. Advise them of the problem that you’re having, and they can give you an estimate of a possible water heater repair.