Leaks and broken heating elements usually indicate it’s time for a Hot Water Heater Repair Morris County. But some problems, like a faulty thermocouple or gas control valve, can be more inexpensively repaired.
Whether your water heater is electric or gas, the first step to diagnosing the problem is turning off the water supply and gas. This will prevent potential water damage from occurring while allowing the professional to work safely.
The thermostat is a simple but important component in your hot water heater. It controls the temperature of the water in your tank, so if it’s not working properly, your hot water will be cooler than you want, or worse, not work at all.
A failed thermostat can be caused by corrosion, age, or just wear and tear, so it’s a good idea to replace it whenever you notice it going bad. The process of replacing the thermostat is fairly simple, but make sure to shut off power to the heater at your circuit breaker and post a sign telling others not to turn it back on while you’re working. You’ll also want to drain the water heater tank to remove any sediment that has built up inside, then disconnect all of the wires from the thermostat (following your labels for reference) and remove the thermostat itself. After installing the new one, reattach the mounting clip and reconnect the wires using the labels you made as a guide. Before restoring power to the heater, check the manufacturer’s recommended temperature setting (usually 120 degrees) and reinstall the access panel and insulation.
Another common problem with a hot water heater is that it simply doesn’t produce enough hot water. This may be the result of a simple temperature dial misreading or because your water heater is just undersized for your home. If this is the case, replacing it with a larger unit should solve your problem.
If you’ve determined that the thermostat and heating element are both working correctly, the reason for your hot water shortage may be a dip tube that has sprung a leak. This is a small pipe that transfers cool water from the top of the tank down to the bottom, where it’s reheated by the lower heating element. If the dip tube is leaking, it will allow cool water to mix with the hot water, which can reduce the overall water temperature. Replacing the dip tube isn’t difficult, but it will require shutting off and draining the heater tank, so you should only attempt this if you have prior experience doing electrical work.
The anode rod is a long metal rod that runs down the center of the water heater tank. It’s usually made of magnesium, aluminum, or a combination of the two, wrapped around a steel wire core. It’s designed to corrode so that it protects the underlying steel water heater tank from corrosion.
Anode rods need to be replaced periodically to avoid destroying the steel tank lining. The best way to keep track of when the rod should be replaced is to inspect it regularly. Depending on the quality of your water, it’s generally a good idea to swap out the rod for one that’s made from zinc. This will help combat the sulfur bacteria that causes rotten egg smells in the water, and it’ll help to lower your water temperature.
To replace the anode rod, shut off the power and gas to the water heater. Then, drain several gallons of water from the tank to prevent flooding while you’re working. Use an impact wrench to loosen the hex head at the bottom of the rod, and then unscrew it by hand (Photo 1). The hex head may be covered with a plastic cap. Remove the cap and loosen the hex head with the impact wrench, but don’t tighten it too far. You need to achieve metal-to-metal contact, which is referred to as sacrificial protection, so the anode rod can do its job without damaging the tank.
The replacement anode rod should be the same length as the old one. It can be purchased from a home improvement store or plumbing supply. The type of anode rod you choose should be based on your water quality, and it can be made from either magnesium or a zinc-aluminum alloy.
Neglecting to replace the anode rod is probably one of the worst things you can do for your hot water heater, and it’s a very expensive mistake. Once the anode rod has completely corroded, the water heater will try to corrode the steel tank walls, which can lead to leaks and even explosions. Keeping up with anode rod replacements will prevent this from happening, and it’s an inexpensive, easy maintenance task.
The dip tube is a piece of metal in a water heater that holds the cold water line up so it doesn’t drain off the bottom of the tank. It also helps keep the incoming cold water from mixing with the hot water at the top of the tank. If the dip tube goes bad, you’ll get lukewarm showers. It’s easy to check the dip tube for problems. Just look for it sticking out of the top of the water heater. You can grab it with a pair of pliers or you can use a wooden dowel to hook in the metal ring that sits inside the top of the dip tube.
If the tube breaks off or is removed from the dip port, you’ll likely have a few weeks of lukewarm water until it gets fixed. Most modern water heaters are equipped with non-metallic tubes made of cross-linked polyethylene (PEX). These last much longer than the metallic ones used before. They don’t rust like the metal ones do and they don’t accelerate rusting of the steel tank.
In some cases, plumbers will accidentally cut the dip tube off during a repair or replacement job. It’s rare, but it does happen. Sometimes, a plumber will even install the dip tube in the wrong port on the top of the water heater. This can create a siphon which will drain the element or elements of your hot water heater.
To check the dip tube for a problem, just feel (carefully) the temperature of the water coming out of the hot water pipe. If it’s lukewarm, there may be some cross-contamination in your system and the dip tube is probably to blame.
If the dip tube is ok, you can replace it by unscrewing the nipple for the cold water supply on the top of the water heater. Use a wrench to loosen it, and then remove it with your hand. The new dip tube should have a new pipe nipple attached to it, so you’ll need to replace that as well. Once you’ve replaced the dip tube and put it back in place, you can re-connect the cold water line, restore power to your water heater and then turn on the water.
Located on the top of the tank, this pipe transfers cool water to the bottom of the tank so it can be reheated. Over time, this tube can wear out or even spring a leak. When this occurs, cold water can mix in with hot water and reduce the overall temperature of the water. This small part is another relatively inexpensive component that typically requires only a simple repair.
Also known as a T&P valve or P-Valve, the pressure relief valve is responsible for releasing excess pressure from the water heater’s tank. A properly working T&P valve will open when water or steam reaches unsafe levels. If the valve fails to do so, excess pressure can build until it reaches the breaking point of the tank itself and bursts. The result can be a violent explosion that sends the tank and its contents flying through the air and into your home, potentially causing major damage.
While many different types of PRVs are available, they all generally consist of a conventional direct spring-loaded design with internal components held in a position that creates an internal seal to prevent flow. When the pressure in a system rises above a preset limit, the valve opens by either a rotary or piston action and vents excess pressure to another section of the system or into the environment. Once the pressure in a system returns to a safe level, the valve closes.
The best way to test your water heater’s PRV is to place a bucket under the discharge tube and lift up on the lever. If the valve releases water into the bucket, it’s functioning as intended. If it doesn’t, or if the valve has a tendency to get “stuck” in an open position, it will need to be replaced.
Unlike the dip tube, which can be tightened by a homeowner, a leaking PRV should only be repaired by a professional. This is another one of those small parts that can be easily overlooked, but which can cause a lot of trouble when it starts to fail. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have your hot water heater’s pressure valve tested and replaced at least twice per year, ideally when you’re flushing the tank to remove sediment build-up.