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Hot Water Heater Repair: When to Call a Technician

Space heating takes up the largest energy expense in every home especially during winter. Secondary to this is water heating, which is equally important if you are looking for added comfort. You are lucky if you’ve never experienced taking a cold shower early in the morning. If your home has a reliable water heating system, you’ll have hot water each time you turn the tap or shower.

Most homes around the country have tank-type water heaters. It is by far the most commonly used water heating system with proven reliability. Tank-type heaters are either powered by gas or electricity, depending on which is readily available in your area or whichever is less expensive. But in recent years, many homeowners began to take notice of the benefits of tankless water heaters.

Tankless water heaters or instantaneous water heaters, heat water on demand. You don’t have to make space for a bulky water tank because the system is relatively compact. Additionally, a tankless water heater is also more energy-efficient. Some models have over 90% energy-efficiency rating which translates to real money saved on both water and energy.

However, regardless of how advanced your water heating system is, there is always a possibility you will encounter issues down the line. While water heaters have a life span of at least 10 years, it does not mean you won’t have to make the necessary maintenance checks to ensure that it is running at peak efficiency. Unfortunately, many homeowners fail to care for their water heating systems until it is time to call a technician for hot water heater repair.

Electric water heater repair: Common problems to watch out for

Troubleshooting problems with a water heater is something every homeowner can do. Some problems may appear simple, while others require immediate attention from a professional technician. Here are some of the most common issues with electric water heaters.

• Water leaking from the top of the tank. Water leaking from the top may be due to loose pipes, defective pressure valve, or leak coming from the inlet valve. Either way, this problem is easy enough to fix when you call a technician for hot water heater repair.

• Water coming out from the bottom of the tank. If the bottom of the tank leaks, it is either a simple condensation or pressure issue, or you may need to replace the unit. Have a technician check the source of the leak to provide the appropriate solution.

• There is no hot water or there is not enough hot water. For electric water heaters, the first thing you need to check is the power source. If the power source is working, you may need to replace the heating element. If there is hot water but not enough supply, it is likely an issue with the thermostat. For electric water heaters, you’ll find the thermostat on the side of the tank at the back of an access panel. Although the thermostat is factory pre-set, you may need to raise the temperature slightly during winter.

• It takes too long for water to reheat. This is one of the disadvantages of electric water heaters. Although it is normal for electric heaters to take longer in reheating a tank full of water, it may not be so if it takes a lot longer than usual. Call a technician because you may need hot water heater repair or replace some parts such as the heating element.

• Strange noises coming from the heater. It is normal for water heaters to make some noise while in use. But anytime the noise becomes too loud or too frequent, call a technician to check for any problems.

• Hot water pressure is too low. In some cases, you may not need hot water heater repair when the pressure is too low. It may be due to some issues with older plumbing which you’ll need to replace.

Other problems you can encounter with an electric water heater are dirty or rusty water, or hot water has foul odor. Whenever any of these happen, don’t take chances with trying to fix the problem yourself. To avoid causing further damage, call a professional heating technician to expertly assess your water heater for any hot water heater repair needs.

Tankless water heater repair: Issues you may encounter

Now that we have discussed common problems encountered with a tank-type electric water heater, let’s proceed with identifying the common problems homeowners encounter if they have an on-demand water heater.

• Mineral or sediment build-up. Even if you have a tankless water heater, mineral build-up may still be an issue. When calcium and magnesium from hard water collects inside the heater, it can cause damage to some vital parts. Experts always recommend that whether you have a tank-type or tankless water heater, you need to flush the system at least twice a year. You can also prevent mineral build-up by using water softener.

• Overloaded system. If there is high demand for hot water in your home, the heater may not be able to provide enough hot water. A system overload may damage the unit and lead to costly hot water heater repair. If you are unable to limit simultaneous hot water demand, consider adding point-of-use heaters or upgrading your unit to a higher capacity.

• Cold water sandwich. This problem is quite frequent with tankless hot water heaters. But you don’t need to panic right way or call a technician for hot water heater repair. It is normal for the heater to take a few seconds to heat water especially when there is simultaneous use. The only way to prevent a hot water sandwich is to wait for cold water to pass before jumping in to use the shower.

• Failed ignition. A problem with ignition may be caused by several issues. First, you need to check if there is power or gas supply. Then, you need to check if the gas valve is open. If none of these resolved the problem, the issue could be more serious. Call a hot water heater repair technician right away to check the unit.

In some instances, it is possible to experience problems with water pressure if you have a tankless water heater. This is often the case if the heater is powered by electricity. Gas-powered tankless water heaters have better water pressure.

Maintenance tips to avoid water heater repair

Regardless of the type of water heater you have in your home, it is only sensible to call a hot water heater repair technician whenever you encounter a problem. While a technician has the expertise to resolve problems with plumbing and heating, it is also the homeowner’s responsibility to properly care for their water heaters to avoid unnecessary repairs and problems.

Here are some maintenance tips every homeowner should know and do to avoid frequent hot water heater repair calls.

• The first step is to understand the type of water heater you have. Is it gas, electric, tank-type, or tankless? Each model has specific strengths and weaknesses. When you know how your water heater works, you’ll know what to check when there is a problem.

• Keep all manufacturer’s manuals and read instructions carefully anytime you want to perform some simple maintenance tasks.

• Always keep close attention to your home’s hot water supply. If you notice unusual drops in the supply, or whenever it takes a lot longer than usual for water to heat to the right temperature, it may be time to check your heater for problems.

• Know where the vital components are. For example, you should know where the thermostat is, the release valve, the water shut-off valve, as well as the power source. Knowing where these parts are will help you troubleshoot issues.

• Always wear protective gear like gloves and goggles anytime you are working on your water heater.

• Whether you have a tank-type heater or tankless water heater, you need to drain and flush the unit regularly to remove debris, sediment, and mineral build-up. The manufacturer manual should contain the steps on how to drain and flush a water heater. You can also buy a cleaning compound specifically formulated to remove calcium and magnesium deposits from water heaters.

• If you have a tank-type water heater, you need to check the anode rod once every few years. If the rod is already covered with mineral deposit or when half of the wires are already exposed, you’ll need to replace the anode rod.

• Aside from the anode rod, you need to regularly check the pressure relief valve. Check if it is not clogged and if it is working properly.

• For gas heaters, regularly check and clean the burner and ports.

• The area around the heater should be clean and free from any debris. Remove any materials and keep at least two feet of clearance.

• Lastly, check the thermostat periodically to make sure it is on the right temperature setting.

Hot water heater repair can be costly and inconvenient. By taking care of your water heater, you can avoid these problems and enjoy consistent hot water at the turn of the tap.

For assistance with water heater installation, repair, and replacement, call Fischer Heating today.

Image Copyright: Luca Bertolli / 123RF Stock Photo



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