Can you repair a hot water heater?

water heater in a garage

Get comfortable water when you want

What is the water heating? It is a way for heat to transfer by using an energy source that heats water higher than its original temperature. The typical uses for hot water are for bathing, cleaning, cooking, and in some parts, space heating. We’re so accustomed to having hot water when we want it, when the water heater dies, we seek water heater repair promptly.

When did this appliance come into our lives that have become crucial in our daily lives? It took over a century, starting back in 1868, and many contributors to get us to where we have water heaters in every household. The first residential use water heater named “Geyser” after a gushing hot spring in Iceland and was heated by natural gas.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t any form of ventilation of the gas vapors, such as the flue we have today, so it wasn’t safe for home use.  An engineer would contribute next by designing a storage tank and other safety features, making it an automatic gas run unit. Many more additions and design changes would come during the 1990s, making it one of the best inventions for homes today.

Today, when a water heater is not working, we go into a panic state of mind. Or if our water heater is leaking, we grow concerned if it can be repaired, or will we need to buy a new one.  For a new homeowner, or has never experienced a water heater failure, there are many questions to be answered.

What would cause a hot water heater to stop working?

There isn’t much worse than being the last one to get in the shower only to have ice cold water hit you. There can be a wide range of things that cause an electric water heater to quit. Here are troubleshooting steps you can use to determine what could be wrong, before calling for a water heater repair service. Start by turning off the power at the circuit breaker that is connected to the heater unit.

  • Check the Pilot Light:  This is a common problem and is easy to fix without calling a professional water heater repair service. Following the directions in the owner’s manual, follow the instructions on how to re-light it.
  • Gas Leak: A gas hot water heater could have a leak in the gas line, which you should be able to detect by an odor like, a rotten egg smell. Just as with a roof repair, this is one of those times that a professional water heater repair is a must, gas is dangerous and only an experienced and qualified person should repair or replace a gas line.
  • The Heating Element: If the water doesn’t get hot enough or you don’t get enough for that awesome morning shower, the heating element needs replacing. For a handy homeowner, you can do this yourself by following instruction videos on the internet. Or schedule a professional water heater repair service call.
  • The Thermostat: If you’re getting a little hot water, it can sometimes be the thermostat that needs to be adjusted up. Or if the water gets too hot, adjust it down. If that doesn’t fix it, the thermostat needs to be replaced.  Again, this is something a handy homeowner can do with instructions on the internet or schedule a water heater repair appointment with a professional service.
  • Sediment Buildup In Tank: Even in North America, the water has contaminants that build up in a water heater tank and hardens at the bottom. This reduces the amount of water the tank holds and heats. This sediment buildup can be minimized by a regular schedule of water heater cleaning.

Other ways to help lessen this buildup is to add a water softening agent and lower the temperature to 130. When the tank has become rusty over time, that buildup cannot be removed. This requires more than just water heater repair. This means you need to purchase and arrange a new water heater and installation.

How many years does a water heater last?

Every appliance or device you buy for your home will need repairing or replacing at some point. With water heaters, the general rule and guideline are eight to twelve years for a water heater with a tank. With a regular schedule of maintenance, you can extend that average lifespan.

However, if your water heater has recently reached a 10-year anniversary, you should be watching it closely for any of the problems we’ve described above. As you shop for a new water heater, consider these the following two considerations so you choose the best one for your home and family:

  • Do you want to buy a tank or tankless water heater? What will it take to switch from a tank-style to a tankless water heater system?  There is electrical, water, and gas line if applicable that require retrofitting or replaced to go with a tankless style.
  • Do you need a larger tank capacity with your new water heater? Did the old one supply enough hot water when it was at its prime working condition? Or did you have to time bathing and laundering around the water heating?

What are the signs your hot water heater is going out?

If you are like most homeowners, you spend little time thinking about your water heater, much less think about if it is about to quit working. If you’re observant though, there are a few signs that will give you the hint you may shop for a new water heater, or at the very least, scheduling a water heater repair appointment.

  • Age – If you’re about to celebrate your water heater’s 10th birthday, prepare the budget for a replacement soon.
  • Water Puddles – If you notice puddles of water around the water heater or notice water coming from the bottom, it’s self-explanatory – your water heater is leaking. However, before you have that old one yanked out and replaced, check the water lines running to it and the connections at the water heater, meaning a basic water heater repair call could be all you need.
  • Noisey – Does your water sound like it is full of angry hobgoblins knocking on the walls of the tank? This is caused by sediment built up in the tank and has it hardened, and the water heater must work harder to heat water. Cleaning the tank can help, sometimes though, it’s too far gone with rust in that buildup and a water heater replacement is needed.
  • Water rusted – If the water your bath or kitchen is coming on rusted looking, this is a good sign that your water heater tank has rusted inside, or the water pipes going to and from the water heater have rusted. A professional water heater repair service all can determine which it is and if it isn’t the tank, replacing the pipes will usually take care of that rusty water.
  • Not Getting Hot or Staying Hot – Are your showers getting shorter because the water gets cold faster? This could be the water heater can’t keep up with the demands anymore and you need to replace it.  Or it could the thermostat need to be adjusted. Try the thermostat first and if that doesn’t help, you can have a water heater repair service come to check the unit, but chances are, you need a new one.

How do I reset my water heater?

If your water heater isn’t producing hot water, sometimes a quick reset will fix it. Use the following steps and see if this saves you a water heater repair service call:

  1. Disconnect the electricity to the heater.
  2. Remove the cover plates.
  3. Remove the insulation pad. 
  4. Locate the red reset button and press the button firmly.
  5. Wait to hear the button click.  

After you hear the click, return the panel cover and plug the water heater back in.  If you’re still not getting hot water, or you don’t hear it heating water, make that phone call.

close up on a water heater

How long does it take to flush a water heater?

Not long at all and definitely worth doing to extend the life of your water heater. It is the size of the tank and the water pressure your home has will dictate how long it takes to drain the unit. The average fifty-gallon tank and the good steady water pressure will usually take five minutes. 

The water heater isn’t an appliance that we “work” with every day like the refrigerator, stove, microwave, etc. However, it works for us every day and depending on a household size the activity within that household, it can work hard.  Taking the time to perform maintenance like draining the tank at least once a year can extend the lifespan and will make your water get hot faster and longer. For your water heater service needs in Marietta, GA, call 404-475-3009 today!