Water heaters are truly “out of sight, out of mind” until something goes wrong. Maybe you’re trying to clean up after dinner and there’s no hot water to wash those greasy dishes. Or your grandchildren or children are in serious need of a bath but the only water filling the bathtub is cold! When there’s no hot water for your home, this is a priority repair.
Signs Your Water Heater Needs Attention
Some reasons for hot water failure are simple and only need an inexpensive repair to put things right. Of course, at the other end of the scale is the need for complete replacement of the water heater. Below are some of the main situations you might run into with your water heater and what the repair is like.
1. A Leak Is Coming From the Top of The Water Heater
This type of leak usually comes from one of the nipples on the top of the appliance. Nipples are the connections where the incoming cold and outgoing hot water pipes enter the water heater. You may see rusty leakage on the top of the water heater or running down the side.
These parts can corrode quickly if they are not made from the right metals which is why we always use quality parts. A few dollars more could mean years more service.
You might be able to see that this part is corroded by looking on top of your water heater. Is there rusty or coppery (bright blue) corrosion right near the copper pipes connecting with your heater? Or is there rusty leakage around it?
Repairing this leak can be tricky because corrosion often means the nipple is hard to remove. It’s best left to a professional plumber.
2. The Hot Water Heater Stops Heating Water; The Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit
This problem could simply be a failed thermocouple. A thermocouple is a safety feature that prevents explosions and fires. Part of the thermocouple sits in the path of the pilot light. The small flame (the size of a lighter) heats the thermocouple and sends a very tiny electric current to the controller.
If the thermocouple fails, it stops producing this tiny voltage. You’ll stop having hot water. There are other causes for pilot light failure but this is a common one we see and it’s not very expensive.
3. The Hot Water Heater Has Reached the End of Its Life, is Rusting Out, Rumbling or Leaking
Water heaters can be expected to last eight to ten years. If it’s rusting inside, you may notice rusty water coming just from the hot water supply. If your water heater has not reached the end of its life, there can be other reasons for this.
Your appliance could also be rumbling or popping as it heats water. This is because of a buildup of sediment inside. If this sediment has been allowed to harden instead of being flushed out regularly, then your water heater needs to be replaced.
Leaking is another sign that replacement may be needed. There are a number of places from which water can leak without it indicating a serious problem. If we rule out leaks in any of those areas and we still have too much moisture, then we’re probably looking at a cracked or corroded tank inside. That means replacement.
Remember that pressure builds up inside a water heater as the water heats. That’s why there’s a pressure valve to release this pressure if it gets too high. But after years of heating, it’s easy for a tank to develop cracks.
4. The Gas Valve Has Failed
This control mounted on the outside of the tank contains the thermostat and pilot light control. Replacing this unit is a pretty sophisticated job and is fairly expensive. It requires draining the tank and shutting off the flow of gas.
When making the decision to replace a gas valve, look at the age of the water heater. If you only have a few years left on its life, you are better off replacing the entire appliance.
5. Water Is Dripping Inside the Hot Water Heater Where the Flame Is
This kind of leak results from that hardened sediment at the bottom of the tank. It means the water heater has rusted inside. The only answer is replacement of the water heater, preferably before the bottom of the tank rusts through completely! That would cause a major leak.
How Rocketman Plumbing Can Help
The right thing to do is get an inspection and diagnosis of any water heater problem as soon as you notice little leaks or malfunctions. Then you can avoid big failures!
Our team is expert in diagnosing your water heater problems so we can keep your costs down. If it’s time to replace your water heater, we’ll help you choose one that is energy efficient. Whenever you need help with your water heater to keep life at home comfortable, call us. Day or night, weekends or holidays. We’re fast and reliable. In the Albuquerque area, call: 505-243-1227.