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Monday, December 1, 2014

The Go-to Guide to Water Heaters: Repair or Replace?

When your water heater quits or doesn't seem to produce enough hot water, it can be quite frustrating for the whole family. Rather than scour the Internet for answers about repairing or replacing water heaters, let us help you out with this go-to guide. Here's all you really need to know about common water heater problems and how to handle them.

If your water heater is suddenly not providing you with enough hot water, then the first thing to check is whether the unit is getting power, if electric, or that the gas is not off,  if it is a gas-fired unit. If it's on but not able to heat the water to the right temperature you can check to see if the thermostat has been inadvertently bumped to a lower setting. If it has, this is an easy fix by readjusting the control to a safe temperature.

Be very aware of just how hot you set the thermostat, it can be very dangerous to set it too high. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends setting water heaters to a safe limit of 49°C (120°F). Water heated at anything close to 60°C (140°F) poses a severe scalding hazard, especially to children and the elderly.

Water heaters usually break down because a part inside them stops gets damaged or the tank itself leaks. In addition, water heaters may also quit working effectively if supply lines that connect to them, or the tank itself, is clogged with minerals or rust. Both of these issues require a professional to diagnose properly.

If you are suddenly experiencing low water pressure throughout your home, it's possible that the pressure reducing water valve controlling the pressure from your city supply line has failed. More likely, someone has accidentally moved the handle on the water shut off valve. You can easily check that this valve is completely open yourself. The least problematic and newer valves are the lever type ball valves. You can recognize these by a straight lever instead of a round handle. When fully opened, the handle runs parallel to the pipe.

However, if you are experiencing low pressure only at your hot water faucets, this is likely caused by mineral buildup in the lines coming from the heater. A common cause of mineral buildup in the lines from your water heater is from a faulty anode inside.

The anode protects the inside of the heater and your lines by the process of electrolysis. This is an important part of your water heater which helps it last longer. If the anode rod stops working, it causes decomposition of the interior lining and mineral buildup will start to do damage to your plumbing. So, if the rod has dissolved to the point where it doesn't work properly, it likely has to be replaced by a professional.

Leaks are the most common problem that customers will call a plumber for. You'll usually notice a leak around the bottom of the water heater. This can be due to a crack in the tank whereby a replacement is going to be necessary. Sometimes however, you may not have to replace the entire heater, but calling in a professional will remove all doubt.

Water heaters are not extremely complicated, however, they are essential to the comfort of your family. While some problems may be able to be resolved by the average homeowner, this is not always the case. The best thing to do, in most situations, is to call in a professional to take a look.

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