How to Save on Hot Water Heater Repair Charges

Every so often we get a call for a hot water heater repair that could have been avoided. When something goes wrong, you don’t have to pick up the phon...

Every so often we get a call for a hot water heater repair that could have been avoided.

When something goes wrong, you don’t have to pick up the phone right away to call a Colorado Springs plumber. You can do some basic troubleshooting yourself, and depending on the problem, even make a simple repair or two.

Performing a little DIY hot water heater maintenace can save you a lot of money, especially over the life of your hot water heater. 

Here are a few common problems people run into with their water heaters and how to troubleshoot and possibly fix the problem.

No Hot Water

By far the hot water heater repair call we get the most often is related to no hot water.  

These calls are usually urgent, as you can image.

There’s nothing worse than wanting to take a hot shower and get your day started, only to discover the water is freezing and will not heat up.

If you have a gas hot water heater there can be several reasons why you don’t have hot water. Among them are: the pilot light is out, faulty gas thermocouple, faulty gas control valve.

If either the gas thermocouple or control valve are faulty, then they probably need to be replaced. Go ahead and replace them if you are comfortable making the repair.

A pilot light that is out will need to be relit. This can be done in 6 steps:

  1. Turn the gas regulator valve to the “Off” position then wait about 5 minutes. The location might vary, so consult the owner’s manual to find the valve.

  2. Locate the gas burner under the water heater. You’ll probably have to remove an access cover. You might need a flashlight to see the gas burner.

  3. Turn the gas regulator valve knob to the “Pilot” position. Press down and hold. The gas should start flowing to the gas burner.

  4. Many water heaters have an electric starter. The button should be labeled “Ignition” or something similar and is usually red or black. 

  5. While holding the knob down, push the button. You’ll hear a clicking noise. If you do not have an electric starter, hold a flame to the pilot burner. Use a long necked lighter, like what you use to start your barbeque grill.

  6. Once the pilot burner is lit, keep holding down the knob for another minute or so. This will ensure that the thermocouple safety sensor detects the heat and knows the pilot light is lit.

Finally, once the pilot light stays on, turn the knob to the “On” position. You’ll hear a “whoosh” noise. This means the main burner has ignited.

Hot Water Not Staying Hot

If you’re getting hot water, but it’s not staying hot long enough, there can be two possible problems.

The first is that you might be using more hot water than the heater can produce. If this is the case, then you’ll either have to cut back on your hot water consumption (take shorter showers), or get a new hot water heater installed with more capacity. Unfortunately, unless you want to cut back on your consumption, you’re left with making a big purchase.

Secondly, there might be a problem with the hot water heater’s thermostat. A thermostat regulates the temperature of the water in your appliance. An easy way to see if the thermostat is working is to check the thermostat setting vs. the actual water temperature. They shouldn’t be too far apart. If the thermostat is broken, you might need to call in a local Colorado Springs plumbing company since this repair is beyond the skills of a typical home owner.

Water Too Hot or Not Hot Enough

We get this hot water heater complaint often, and it's one of the easiest for the home owner to rectify.

The first thing you should do is check the temperature setting on your hot water heater.  Most hot water heater manufacturers recommend setting the temperature to 120 degrees.

Here is a nice water heater guide where you will find water heater temperature recommendations plus, how to check and adjust your temperature on both gas and electric
residential storage water heaters. to 

If tweaking the temperature settings doesn't fix the problem, then it could be yet another symptom of a faulty thermostat.

For example, if your water is too hot, the heating element might be constantly on, letting the water heat up to very high temperatures. Or, the heating element is switching off when it shouldn’t be, not letting the water become properly heated. In either case, the thermostat will probably need to be replaced.

On the other hand, the problem might just be that the thermostat setting has been changed. It’s recommended to set the thermostat to about 120 degrees.

Hot Water Tank is Leaking

A leaking hot water tank can be a serious problem. Depending on the size of the leak, you risk flooding damage. Even a small leak can cause water damage to the area around the tank over time. Further, your water bill might spike as a result of the hot water heater needing to use more water.

That said, the first step is to see where the leak is coming from. Check around the hot water tank (watch out for hot surfaces!) and see if you notice any obvious leaking. Places to check include the plumbing fittings, hoses and pipes. Also, be sure to check the drain area to look for any signs of water.

If the water is leaking from one of the plumbing fittings, hoses or pipes, then they will need to be replaced. Depending on your level of comfort you can do this yourself, but we'd recommend you at least call a plumber in your area for a quote.

Don’t Make Any Repairs You’re Not Comfortable With

Hot water heaters use a combination of heating elements, electricity (usually around 220 volts) and gas. All three can cause serious injuries if one is not careful. Always play it safe if you’re not 100% confident when attempting a hot water heater repair and call an HVAC technician for help.

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