Water Heater Repair vs Replacement
A water heater is an appliance we take for granted every day. They can quit working with no warning. Many times, the water heater will give you hints that it is about to quit. If you don’t know what those indicators are though, you could experience either of the situations we’ve described. For a water heater repair or replacement, there are many questions, and we have answers to some of them here. With these answers, we intend to provide our readers with enough information to make informed decisions in water heater repairs and more.
What would cause a hot water heater to stop working?
There is a variety of things that can lead to the water heater to stop working. Here we have provided a list of those things for both electric water heaters and gas water heaters that may or may not necessitate water heater repair or replacement:
An Electric Water Heater
- Circuit Breaker Tripped – like all major appliances, the water heater requires a dedicated circuit. It is easily spotted in the circuit box because it will be flipped the opposite direction of the other breakers. Simply flip the breaker back in the on position to reset it. If it trips back to off, you should contact an electrician.
- Faulty Heating Element – this is the most common problem when electric water heaters stop working and will need to be replaced.
- Faulty Thermostat – there are two thermostats in an electric water heater. The upper unit controls the two heating elements inside the tank and if you’re not getting any hot water at all, this is often the culprit. If the water isn’t hot enough, this thermostat could be the culprit. In either case, a water heater repair is simply to replace the faulty unit is your solution.
Those are the three main causes when a water heater stops working that may require water heater repair or even replacement. Some other possible causes could be:
- Accidental Grounding – something could be laying across the wiring connections, disrupting the power to the water heater.
- Tripped Reset Button – an electric water heater will have a reset button. For a variety of reasons, that button could fail or simply was triggered and shut off the heating unit inside. You can simply push the reset button and if the water heater stays on, great! But if it repeatedly trips off, the button itself could be the problem, or it could indicate something more serious.
- Wire Short – a direct short can be caused by wiring that is frayed or scratching other surfaces. This should be replaced immediately by an experienced electrician.
- Water Leak – this is an obvious issue as we described in a possible scenario earlier. Sometimes this can be remedied by tightening connections, but if that doesn’t stop the leak, you’ll need to replace your water heater.
- Breaker or Fuse is Undersized – this can be fixed by replacing the breaker or fuse with higher amperage.
- Breaker Too Weak – as circuit breakers age, they may begin to fail. This is a simple repair by replacing the breaker.
A Gas Water Heater
Problems that may require water heater repair for a gas unit versus an electric unit are different. A gas water heater will require extra precautions when checking for problems and making repairs. We recommend it for a do-it-yourself gas water heater repair that you should be 100% confident in what to do and your abilities to carry through. Otherwise, calling a professional plumber is the best option.
Before making that phone call to a plumber, here are some things you can check:
- Gas Supply
- Pilot Light
- Gas Line
- Pilot Orifice
- Supply line
- Gas Control Valve
What are the signs your hot water heater is going out?
As we just covered, many factors that could be wrong and determining if a water heater repair is possible or if a replacement is necessary. Signs that your water heater is headed for possible failure are:
A water heater that has popping or rumbling sounds is an indicator water heater repair is needed. This usually happens because the annual flushing we recommended above wasn’t done, and there is a build-up of minerals and sediments creating air pockets in the tank. If it has just started making these noises, flushing may stop it and prolong the need for water heater repair or replacement.
When the water has a cloudy appearance, or if it smells or tastes like metal, water heater repair won’t fix this problem. This shows the minerals that have settled in the water’s bottom heater tank are now in the pipes. Over time, the faucets will become clogged, slowing the flow down and turning the water coming out to an orange or red.
Pressure Relief Valve
This valve is in place to release pressure if the water heater temperature reaches a dangerous level. Any build-up or corrosion in the water heater tank or the waterlines to the tank can keep the pressure relief valve from opening. When it comes to checking the pressure relief valve, there are two key symptoms to check:
- Is it leaking?
- Is the hot water not flowing through the pipe?
To avoid damage and danger by a non-working safety relief valve, call an experienced, licensed plumber immediately. It is possible that water heater repair, but non-experienced hands should not attempt to handle this issue.
Water Tank Leaking
Build-up and corrosion inside the water heater tank can cause it to crack. This is beyond any water heater repair, making replacement necessary. This can often be from the pressure relief valve not working, which can be from sediment in the tank’s bottom, caused by not flushing the tank.
Should I replace my water heater before it fails?
Any water heater that is ten years old or older, replacing the unit should consider it. If there have been any water heater repairs done and you notice any warning signs we’ve discussed, consider a replacement.
How do you know when your water heater needs replacing?
As we discussed in the beginning, the water heater is an essential appliance in every home. If your current model is nearing its life expectancy, or you have had several water heater repairs done, it is time to replace it. We have covered the signs that will tell you when your water heater is headed to possible failure, but we want to review them for you again:
- Hot Water Comes Out Rusty – If the hot water is coming out rusty, this usually shows the water heater is rusted inside and could begin leaking. You can check this by filling 3 or 4 five-gallon buckets and if the water is rusty in all of them, you need a replacement water heater.
- Not Enough Hot Water – If you run out of hot water before you finish your shower, this is the most common sign that a water heater is failing. Sometimes, a water heater repair can fix this, depending on the age of the unit.
- Noisy and Rumbling – As water heaters age, they collect sediment on the bottom of the tanks. Each time the unit heats the water, it also is heating the sediment. Over time, that sediment will harden, and not only is it wasting energy, but that sediment is taking up space where water should be.
- Leaking – Naturally, metal expands as it heats and if your water heater has any cracks or fractures, the water can begin leaking from it. Depending on where your water heater is, it could cause a lot of damage to your home.
How many years does a hot water heater last?
On average, a water heater in a residential setting will last from 6 years to 12 years, sometimes longer. Many factors that can determine that lifespan, such as where the water heater is, the hardness of the water in your house, and if you’ve had any water heater repairs done over the years. Once you have reached that 12-year mark, you probably should start shopping and budgeting for a replacement unit. Keep in mind, a water heater is much like your HVAC system or a gas furnace, annual maintenance is required to extend the longevity. The recommended annual flushing could extend the life of your water heater for a few more years. Need water heater repair in Menifee, CA? Call 833-663-2447 today for quality repair from ONE NATIONAL PLUMBING.