Water heaters can be broadly classified into gas water heaters and electric water heaters. These relatively low maintenance and efficient appliances are easy to operate and very safe for home use. They may develop some snags with wear and tear; these include leaks, sediment deposits, problems with parts etc that are most often repairable.
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Understanding the Water Heater
In order to be able to fix problems in your home water heater, understanding the basics of this appliance is very essential. These heaters have a storage tank and heating is by two electrical heating filaments or by a flame in electrical and gas heaters respectively. These devices are of the plug-in and use design and require maintenance and cleaning depending upon the quality of water.
Some problems that may arise in electric water heaters include a blown fuse, leaks in water tank, faulty heating element, sediments etc that all lead to inadequate heating or complete breakdown. A step-by-step check on the possible problem areas is to be done once the main power supply to the heater has been switched off.
In the case of gas water heaters, the problems that are likely to occur include, worn out thermocouple leading to problems with the burner, leaks, sediments etc. Again not enough hot water is the first sign of a problem, check and attempt repairs only when gas supply is turned off.
Simple repairs can be attempted with all the safety precautions in place and the right kind of tools. Here’s how to attempt some of them
Leaks can be either in the inlet pipe or in the insulated outlet pipe. The other areas where leaks occur include the pressure relief valve or the tank itself.
The reason for this problem could just be a blown fuse or a faulty thermocouple. Once these problems have been ruled out, check the heating element or burner for problems. Sometimes these may be coated or clogged with sediments that lead to faulty heating as well. Cleaning these with non-corrosive solutions will fix the problem. In places where the water supplied is high in mineral and salt content, there is a tendency for scale formation inside the storage tank. This needs to be cleaned annually in order to ensure proper functioning of the heater. Flush the tank with a de-scaling agent and drain the water out before reuse.
This problem arises due to bacteria build up due to a faulty anode rod. Flushing the tank can help, if not replace the anode rod.
Most of the water heater repairs can be attempted at home with basic skill. However, replacing the pressure relief valve, changing the tank due to leaks or even pipes may require the help of a handyman.
James is a full time freelancer who has written many home improvement and interior design articles. He recommends Cali’s Choice Plumbing & Restoration Company for all water heater problems.